Monday, September 3, 2012

Five steps to better sleep…

Five steps to better sleep…Five steps to better sleep…

Did you know that respecting a couple of simple rules can help you to get back to a quality of sleep you’ve only been dreaming about? Here are five tips that should help you to not become a full-blown insomniac.

1. Respect your sleep

Do you have trouble getting off to sleep at night? Maybe you are simply missing your ‘hour’ because you want to watch the end of a film, finish a chapter or are having a nice chat with friends.
As sleep is organised in cycles of 1 ½ hours in length, if you miss one cycle, then you’ll have to wait for the next one to come round. Thus you risk tossing and turning in your bed without being able to get on board the sleep train! In the same way, if you are more of a night person, it’s no use going to bed at sunset, as you won’t be able to sleep anyway.
When your eyes start stinging and the yawns are coming thick and fast, try, whenever possible, to go to bed and also to get up every morning at around the same time. If you sleep in a deregulated way (bed at 11pm and wakeup at 7am in the week; bed at 4am and wakeup at 2pm on the weekends), then it’s going to be more difficult for you to sleep when you want and need to.

2. Sleeping in the right temperature

So, you’ve taken a steaming hot bubble bath to wind down just before getting into bed… Wrong! In fact, when your body gets ready for sleep your body temperature goes down. So you need to go in that same direction with a tepid bath or shower at a maximum temperature of 37%, to calm you down.
An overheated room doesn’t help sleep either, so you should fix your thermostat to no more than 20%. But do make sure that your feet are warm.
Studies have shown that keeping your extremities warm helps vasodilation of your blood veins, which in turn promotes sleepiness. So yes, let’s hear it for a comeback of socks in bed!

3. Eat light before sleeping

Heavy digestion disturbs sleep, so avoid eating heavy evening meals. Cut out red meat, spicy dishes, alcohol, coffee and tea. Go more for salads, vegetables, pasta and fish, as well as dairy products that contain tryptophan – a substance from which comes serotonin, the hormone of tranquillity and sleep.
Eat as early as you can in the evenings (ideally at least two hours before sleeping). Drink a herbal infusion (lime-blossom, verbena, camomile or orange-flower, or passion-flower, valerian, hawthorn and hop, all good against nerviness), or a glass of warm milk, which has a sedating effect.

4. Improve your sleeping space

Not a good sleeper? First of all remove the television from your bedroom, as this is one of the things any sleep specialist will tell you to do. In the same way, your bedroom shouldn’t bed doubling as an office. And it’s even worse if you continue working under the covers. Your bedroom is a place for sleeping, not a multi-functional open space!
As to your bed itself, this is something you need to give your attention to. It’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep on a misshapen mattress or if you feel every wiggle or turn of your bed partner. You should change your mattress every 10 years; so how old is your current mattress? You can also add earplugs to your sleep kit if your partner snores or there’s noise coming from outside that disturbs you.

5. Help your mind to sleep…

Certain intellectual activities can really upset sleep if it’s not stable. Avoid watching television or playing videogames later in the evening, and don’t get into worrying activities such as balancing your budget or catching up on work at home.
All of this just before bed will only get you wired up, make you brood over your worries and thus not be able to get off to sleep. Try listening to good music, meditating a little, having a laugh with your partner… anything that will help you forget your woes and wind down for a full and restful night’s sleep.

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