Friday, 3 February 2012

Sleep! (Or lack thereof and how to fix that)

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Photo by dominiqs
We've all been there. We have problems falling asleep, staying there, or getting a good quality snooze. Lack of sleep can affect mood, alertness, and general health and I should be sleeping at least 8 hours a day (or until I feel well-rested). Lately, however, that doesn't seem to be happening. So, in my quest for absolute awesomeness, I've compiled a few tips to try to reach that aim. Here are a few things to do before bed that can help you have a restful night.


Step 1. Set yourself up for sleep.



  • Do some light exercise a little later in the day. A walk, yoga, or tai chi can help to get you in that relaxed state. I've been doing a stretching routine as part of my bedtime ritual; not only do I feel more relaxed, but a bit more flexible. Aerobics is great during the day, but is generally not a good idea in the late evening as it may actually energize you. However, everyone is different, so be consious of your body. 

  • Try a warm bath. Not only is this a nice space to unwind, but, while floating, your core temperature rises. When you get out, it drops back down a bit and this slight dip helps make you drowsy.

  • Avoid planning late in the day. Your mind will keep the work up after you think you're done. Instead, set a specific time or, at least a cut-off time for trying to figure it all out that day. Write down your thoughts and remind yourself that you can think of it later.

  • Keep it dry. Avoid drinking 1 to 2 hours before bed and go to bathroom before sleeping. If you're thirsty, a sip of water here and there can be helpful, but getting up in the middle of the night is no fun. If you're going to have a sip before nodding off, avoid alcohol and caffeine; both can affect your sleep. 

  • Don't eat too heavily before bed. Eat dinner in the early evening, rather than later at night. Some suggest we aim for at least 4 hours before bed because the digestive process can affect your sleep. Try eating your large meal several hours before sleeping and, if you're hungry, opt for a light snack. Warm milk and whole grains are said to be helpful for dozing, while protein can have the opposite effect. 
Photo by Meneer Zjeroen
Step 2. Make your environment more conducive to sleeping.
  • Don't make time a feature. Put the alarm clock to the wall, or out of sight. Looking at the clock as you try to sleep is not going to make it any easier.

  • Keep it restful. Reserve the bed for sleep, sex, and sickness. Makes sense; I wouldn't sleep at work, why would I work in bed? After all if you do work/plan/stress in your bed, it's not a place of relaxation now is it?

  • Bock it out. Wear earplugs if your environment is noisy and use thick blinds to block out the light. In fact, light is so important that dimming them before going to bed will go a long way towards getting your body ready for sleep.

  • Keep it cool. You don't want to be cold but, according to The National Sleep Foundation, the temperature should be comfortably chilly. Open a window if you need to, not only will it help with the temperature, but give you a bit of fresh air.


Now that the bedroom's prepared, I'm off for the night, but I'll be back next time with a few more tips on how to get a better night's sleep. 

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Sleep well, Charlotte

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