Monday, 17 February 2014

Sleep well!

Is your sleep pattern leaving you feeling exhausted during the day?

Try these simple tips to get a better night's sleep!!!

1)  Make your bedroom dark.  Consider using curtains with a thick backing, or installing blinds or shutters.  Light coming in from street lights, other houses and apartments can play havoc with your sleeping patterns.  Artificial light can mess with our Melatonin levels (the chemical that helps us sleep!) and confuse our biological clocks.

2)  Keep the temperature cool.  If you are too warm (or too cold) you will have trouble sleeping.  A slight drop in body temperature facilitates sleep.  Avoid excessive layers or using heating if it isn't necessary.

3)  Eliminate electronic devices such as televisions and computers.   Avoid falling asleep with the television or radio on.  Get rid of devices with bright lights and alarm clocks with LED lighting.

4)  In the hour before you go to bed, avoid overly stimulating activities - try and minimise television and computer use as this will stimulate your brain making you feel more awake.  Try quiet activities such as reading instead.  Try dimming the lighting in your house/apartment in the hour before bedtime, to reduce artificial light and to signify to your body that sleep time in near.

5)  Avoid stressful activities before bed!! Just before bedtime is not the time to reply to emails, finish assignments or homework or engage in a discussion about finances!  Avoid discussing potentially stressful topics before bed as this is likely to leave you tossing and turning.  Keep stressful discussions for the morning when you're at your full alert level and have the resources to engage in problem solving.

6)  Establish a "before sleep" routine.  By performing a routine before bed each night, your mind will begin to associate this routine with sleep.  For example, this might be having a cup of herbal tea, putting on your pyjamas, reading for 20 minutes, washing your face, brushing your teeth, dimming the lights etc.  Establish a "bed time" and waking time.  If you go to sleep at 10:30pm every night and wake up at 6:30am every morning, your body will become used to this sleep pattern.

7)  Reduce caffeine from the afternoon.  Avoid coffee, black tea and cola after about 3pm as these stimulants may affect your ability to get to sleep at night.

8)  Reflect on your alcohol use.  Excessive drinking can disrupt your sleep patterns.  Whilst alcohol can make you feel tired, it produces both stimulant and depressive effects.  If you're drinking on a nightly basis, considering having alcohol free nights during the week.

9)  Ensure you have exposure to natural light during the daytime.  Exposure to natural light during the day ceases the production of melatonin, a chemical produced by the body which facilitates sleep.  During the darkness, the body then produces melatonin which causes drowsiness and sleep.

10)  Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only.  Avoid other activities such as working in bed, doing homework in bed, watching tv, studying etc for other rooms.  Otherwise you may begin to associate bed with work/stress etc!!

11)  Keep your bedroom clean and free of clutter and distractions.  Take the time to create a peaceful and serene environment that facilitates rest.  Try decordating with soft textiles, warm blankets, lots of cushions and scented candles!!

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