10 Steps To A Good Night’s Sleep
How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep
In 10 Simple Steps
Most people have experienced a bad night’s sleep and woke up feeling tired and irritable. If this happens as a one off, or even every now and then it is no big deal, but if it’s a frequent occurrence it can be far more serious. Long term sleep deprivation can cause changes in your mood, weaken your immune system, increase your blood pressure, cause memory problems, lower your sex drive, affect your thinking and concentration and increase the risk of contracting serious diseases including stroke, coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Step One – Give Yourself Time To Relax
One of the most common reasons people find it difficult to sleep is elevated stress levels, so it is vitally important to allocate some wind down time before bed. It may be as simple as taking a warm bath with your favorite scented bath oil, or reading a couple of chapters of a good book. Many people find listening to soothing music before going to sleep helps them to wind down and clear their mind.
Step Two – Have A Routine
Humans are a creature of habit and this is very helpful when it comes to our sleep, by setting a rigid routine we can re-program our body’s to fall sleep and wake up at a certain time.
The easiest way to achieve this is to go to bed at the same time every night and set aside thirty minutes to an hour for “Me Time” just before you sleep, set the alarm for whatever time you need to wake up. Stick to this routine until it becomes a wonderful habit. (eventually you will not need to use the alarm to wake up at the right time).
Step Three – Lose The Technology
Smart phones, TVs and computers all emit a blue light which is known to suppress melatonin – our natural sleep hormone. So ban them from the bedroom and do not use them for at least one hour before you go to sleep.
Step Four – Create A Good Sleep Environment
- Make sure that your bed is the right size, is comfortable and provides good support; this will stop you moving about and becoming restless.
- Make sure that your room is the right temperature, According to the National Sleep Foundation a temperature between 16 °C and 18 °C (60°F to 65°F) is the perfect sleeping range.
- Make sure that your room is clutter free and fresh, pale colors and aromas such as geranium and lavender may also help sooth you into sleep.
Step Five – Don’t Watch The Clock
If you are having a restless night the worst thing that you can do is keep looking at the clock, this will only increase your stress levels and further interfere with your sleep.
Lay back and try to relax, think of pleasant thoughts. It may be helpful to use some simple relaxation techniques to help you drift off to sleep.
Step Six – Eat “Sleeping” Food
We all know that a healthy lifestyle and eating plan will improve sleep generally, but there are specific foods we can eat to help us get a good night’s sleep.
Foods like milk, turkey, chicken, pumpkin seeds and others contain tryptophan and serotonin – these chemicals are vital for the body to produce melatonin, our natural sleep hormone.
Step Seven – Avoid These Foods
Large meals, alcohol and spicy foods should not be eaten before bed time. Some people also find that drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee or soft drinks in the afternoon affects their sleep.
Sugar is also not recommended as the energy spike and inevitable crash caused by sugary foods can wreak havoc with your body clock. Other foods to avoid
Step Eight – Darkness
Darkness promotes a good night’s sleep – back in the good old days before the invention of clocks people went to sleep at sundown and woke up at sunrise, our internal body clocks still prefer this routine (if you have ever worked a night shift and had to sleep during the day you would understand how difficult it is to change), so put some heavy curtains over the windows and make the room as dark as you like it, Some people prefer the room to be dim, not dark, and install a dimmer switch for total control.
Step Nine – Stay Active
Physical activity and a healthy lifestyle are great for sleep. A simple evening walk/jog/bike ride etc is perfect; it will improve your general health and lower your stress levels promoting a good night’s sleep.
For some people vigorous exercise a couple of hours before bed may make it harder to fall asleep.
Step Ten – Quality Is More Important
Most people are concerned about the length of time they sleep, although this is very important we must remember that sleep is a cycle and all of the above tips are to help you sleep well enough to complete that cycle.
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No matter how long you sleep, if you cannot complete the cycle because of things like waking during the night due to restlessness, or needing to urinate, you will not get the quality of sleep needed to wake up refreshed and ready to start the day.
According to the National Sleep Foundation the average amount of sleep needed is:
Age – 0 to 3 months = 14 to 17 hours
Age – 4 to 11 months = 12 to 15 hours
Age – 1 to 2 years = 11 to 14 hours
Age – 3 to 5 years = 10 to 13 hours
Age – 6 to 13 years = 9 to 11 hours
Age – 14 to 17 years = 8 to 10 hours
Age – 18 to 25 years = 7 to 9 hours
Age – 26 to 64 years – 7 to 9 hours
Over 65 years = 7 to 8 hours