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6 tips for better sleep
Health & Fitness
  • Oct 6, 2020
  • 4 minutes

6 tips for better sleep

Lifestyle changes to help you sleep better:

1.  Examine Your Diet

What you eat and drink – especially at night – can make all the difference in your sleep pattern. Coffee, caffeinated tea, some sodas, and chocolate all contain significant amounts of caffeine, a natural stimulant that keeps the body awake and alert. For some people, caffeine can stay in the body for six to 12 hours. That means that the cup of coffee you drink in the morning could be what’s keeping you from falling asleep at night. If you can’t eliminate caffeine from your diet altogether, try to avoid it at least six hours before your bedtime if you want better sleep. Many people think that alcohol will help them sleep because it is a natural sedative, meaning it relaxes and calms the body. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but it also causes you to wake up throughout the night. If you are prone to heartburn, you might want to avoid spicy or tomato-based foods before bed. These types of foods are common causes of indigestion and heartburn, which are exacerbated by lying down. Also, have your iron level checked by a physician. Iron deficiency, especially in women, can contribute to sleeping problems. Make sure to incorporate iron-rich foods (liver, clams, bran, and leafy green vegetables) into your diet, or take an iron supplement. Some foods can actually help you sleep. Milk, turkey, and peanut butter all contain tryptophan, a chemical that induces sleepiness. Drinking a cup of hot tea an hour or so before bed can help your body relax and wind down as well.

Whatever you eat before bed, try to keep it limited to a small snack rather than a large meal. Hunger pangs can distract you from falling asleep, but going to bed feeling too full can also keep you awake. Avoid liquids after 8 p.m. if you find yourself having to get up in the middle of the night to urinate.

2.  Stop Smoking

Nicotine is a stimulant, like caffeine. It keeps the body awake and wired, which can prevent you from falling asleep easily. While smokers sleep they go through nicotine withdrawal, which makes their sleep less restful than average.

3.  Exercise Regularly

Only 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every day can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, but make sure that the type of exercise is conducive to restful sleep. For example, high-impact cardiovascular workouts, such as aerobics or spinning, stimulate your body, and raise your body temperature. If you do this type of workout close to your bedtime, you may have trouble falling asleep. Try to avoid strenuous exercise at least three hours before bed. Yoga and other low-impact exercises can help relax the body and prepare you for a better night’s sleep; this type of workout may be the most beneficial close to your bedtime.

4.  Create a Bedroom Oasis

Your bedroom should be a place of serenity and peace. If you find yourself multitasking in bed – balancing the checkbook, surfing the Internet, folding laundry – you may be sending your brain mixed signals. Limit your activities in bed to sleep and sex. That way, when you crawl under the covers your body will know that it is time to rest. Make sure your bed is roomy and comfortable. If you or your sleeping partner flails or tosses and turns during sleep, you might want to upgrade to a king-sized bed. If your pillows have long since lost their fluff, replace them with new ones or buy a therapeutic foam pillow that is contoured for your head and neck.

Another way to get better sleep is to play Goldilocks with your mattress. Is it too soft, too firm, or just right? Do you tend to wake up with an aching back or neck? Do you find yourself tossing and turning at night because you just can’t get comfortable? How old is your mattress and box spring, anyway? If you’ve had the same set through multiple presidencies, it might be time to invest in a new one. Your body’s internal temperature drops during the night as you sleep, which is why you often have a hard time falling asleep when you are too hot. If your body temperature doesn’t lower, it doesn’t trigger the normal response of sleepiness. To help induce sleep, keep your bedroom set at a cooler, comfortable temperature; between 68 to 72 degrees should work. Keep noise to a minimum. If you live near a busy highway or your neighbor’s dog tends to bark all night, use white noise to drown out the sound. Try turning on an old fan or using earplugs. You can buy a white noise machine or find some free sleep sounds on the Internet.

5.  Get Help

If none of these tips for getting better sleep work, you may be suffering from a sleeping disorder. If you have a sleeping partner, ask him if you snore, toss and turn or experience any pauses in your breathing during the night. More than 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing at various times during the night. Each time this happens, the brain stimulates the body in order to resume breathing, which disrupts its REM cycle. Ask your doctor about conducting a sleep study to find out if there is a medical reason why you can’t get the restful night’s sleep that you need. In many cases, insomnia is your body’s way of telling you that your lifestyle needs to change. Are you overly stressed? Do you smoke or have poor eating habits? Maybe you just need to modify your bedtime routine. Whatever the case, there may be a simple, underlying reason for your sleepless nights. Take some time to examine your sleep habits and adjust them as necessary. Better sleep can be more than just a dream.

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