Are you having trouble sleeping at night? You toss, turn and try different positions but still to no avail. You even tried counting hundreds of sheep only to realise it is not effective at all.
Getting a good night sleep is good for your health. In fact, numerous studies show that lack of sleep can lead to health issues from common colds to even something serious such as heart diseases and diabetes. You see, when we sleep, the body releases hormones that help repairs and regenerate the cells. On average, a person needs to have 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day.
My acupuncturist, who happens to be a doctor too, stresses that in eastern medicine; we are supposed to be in deep sleep from 11 pm to 3 am. He said that this is the time of the Liver and the Gallbladder which are in charge of balancing hormones, detoxifying the body, facilitating proper digestion and regulating the qi. If these two organs are healthy, they will have the capability to heal the body of any illness. So, it is not just how much sleep you get that matters, the quality and time on when you get it are also important.
Here are ten tips to help you sleep better at night:
1. Build a Regular Sleeping Pattern
An erratic sleep schedule is one of the culprit that is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. The solution is simple. Be consistent. Pick up a bedtime and a wake-up time depending on your lifestyle then stick to it. The body’s internal clock will get accustomed to it. Not only will this help you sleep better at night, it will also help you in waking up in the morning.
2. Avoid Taking Naps
If you have trouble sleeping at night, it is recommended that you avoid taking naps altogether especially in the late afternoon. Sleeping during the day, albeit short can compromise your ability to fall or stay asleep during the night.
3. Limit Light Exposure at Night
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland. It is important because it is responsible for the regulation of your body clock. Its production is controlled by exposure to light. It is known as the “sleep hormone” or the “hormone of darkness” because melatonin levels rise when darkness falls. Once it is dark, it sends a signal to the body dropping the body temperature, increasing drowsiness and ultimately making the muscles relax.
Thus, it is advisable to avoid watching television, using the computer, cellphone or any electronics devices that use light at least two hours before going to bed.
4. Create an Ideal Sleep Environment
When your environment is bright, your melatonin levels stay low; therefore, a dark bedroom is the best sleep environment. Consider dimming the lights an hour before sleep. A night lamp might come handy. Curtains and shades should be heavy enough to block light coming from the outside. And make sure that the room is cool and quiet.
5. Avoid Caffeine, Cigarette and Alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant. It keeps people awake and alert because it increases adrenaline production. Drinking it late in the afternoon or evening can cause sleeplessness. Coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks all contain caffeine.
Smoking cigarettes or vaping affects sleep quality. Like caffeine, nicotine is also a stimulant. It creates insomnia and other sleep disturbances especially if taken in large quantities at too close to bedtime. Smoking should be avoided altogether, or at least two hours before going to sleep.
Alcohol on the other hand, makes sleep happen more quickly. However, drinking alcohol four hours before sleep deprives the body of deep sleep. Alcohol consumption disturbs normal sleep patterns and the quality of sleep.
6. Don’t Go to Bed Too Full or Hungry
Going to bed too full is bad for your digestive system. The food that you eat should go down. Lying down can lead to bloating, indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux. Not only will it cause significant discomfort making it harder to sleep, it can also result to stomach acidity that may lead to serious health problems like esophageal cancer. In addition, too much eating at night can lead to weight problems.
In the same way, it would be difficult to go to bed if you have a growling and gnawing pain in your stomach because of hunger. And even if you finally fall asleep, it would still be almost next to impossible to achieve deep sleep because hunger pains keep your mind mentally alert. If you are really hungry, you can eat a light snack.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. – Adelle Davis
The best approach is to eat a hearty and healthy breakfast then gradually limiting your food intake towards the end of the day.
7. Relax and Clear Your Mind
Do something relaxing for your bedtime ritual. Try listening to music, reading, taking a warm bath or drinking chamomile tea. Do breathing exercises, pray, meditate or simply be grateful for all the blessings that you have received that day.
8. Limit Fluid Intake
We all need to consume at least 8 – 10 eight oz. glasses of drinking water a day. However, as much as possible, try to drink as much fluid during the day so as to prevent excess water intake at night. Drinking too much when it is close to your bedtime will only disrupt you in your sleep because of the need to go to the bathroom.
9. Don’t Lie Awake in Bed
If you can’t sleep, you need to get out of bed and do a relaxing activity. The worst thing that you can do is to stay in bed, tossing, turning and watching the clock. If you are not asleep in 10 minutes, it is better for you to get up instead. Staying in bed will only cause stress. But remember, avoid doing anything that will energise you for that will only make it harder for you to go to sleep.
10. Exercise Regularly but Not Before Bed
A regular exercise routine is good for your body. It reduces stress and improves sleep quality. However, for some individuals, exercising too late in the day interferes with their sleeping patterns. So, if you are the type of person where physical activity powers you up, then avoid doing exercise at night.