Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Sleep Well?

Tips For a Better Sleep at Night

Peaceful, relaxed, uninterrupted sleep is as important to your health and productivity as your exercise routine and your nutrition. Unfortunately millions of people all over the world suffer from chronic sleep disorders or insomnia.

If you are not getting enough sleep every night, you will not be able to stay healthy and productive for a long time. The sleep deficit will not only affect the quality of your performance; it may cause serious health problems. 

The following tips can help you achieve a good night sleep and the benefits that come with it. These tips are intended for healthy adults, but may not necessarily work for children or people suffering from medical conditions that require medication. Prescription drugs may interfere with sleep patterns and therefore sleep disorders caused by such drugs have to be addressed in a different way.
  • Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule. Stick to it also on weekends.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as taking a hot bath and then reading a book, listening to soothing music or doing calming yoga exercises and meditation.
  • Create environment that is conducive to sleep. Dark, quiet, comfortable and cool bedrooms are best. Air the bedroom before sleep if you can.
  • Remove all electronic devices and TV from your bedroom.
  • Sleep on a comfortable, natural mattress and pillows.
  • Reduce chemical pollutants such as scented candles, room fresheners, scented fabric softeners, etc., from your bedroom. Use natural organic fabrics if you can and wash them in detergents that have been formulated to minimize chemical exposure and allergies. The only scent that would really allow you sleep well is the essential oil of lavender. It can be used to perfume bed sheets. Few drops of lavender oil in the drawer where you keep your bed linens will not only keep them fresh, it will keep moths away.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Do not eat in bed and do not work on your laptop.
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime and take a short walk after a heavy meal. If you have to eat late in the evening, eat foods that are high in tryptophan such as bananas, dairy products, eggs, poultry, oatmeal, almonds, honey, and whole grains. Tryptophan is converted in the body to amino acid L-tryptophan which is used by the brain to produce two sleep inducing substances - serotonin and melatonin. Both substances are needed for a deep, restorative sleep.
  • Exercise regularly, but remember to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime. 
  • Take supplemental magnesium. Magnesium is the best antidote to stress. It helps us relax and may help improve sleep. The suggested dose is 400 mg per day.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, or soft drinks close to bedtime. Caffeine can keep you awake. Drink a cup of relaxing herbal infusion such as camomile, hops or passionflower, instead.
  • Quit smoking. Nicotine used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime. Alcohol is a depressant that relaxes the muscles and slows dawn the breathing. It seems that it helps us fall off to sleep easily. Unfortunately, alcohol interferes with our sleep process. People who drink a lot of alcohol before sleep go straight into deep, restorative sleep missing the REM (rapid eye movement) phase. When alcohol wears out in the body, a person returns to the light REM phase and can be easily awaken by noise or a slight disturbance of another kind. The time spent in the deep sleep phase is not sufficient for a person to feel fully rested. Going back to sleep seems almost impossible without additional aid. If you are drinking in the evening, allow few hours for the alcohol to be digested in the body before you go to bed.
  • Avoid arguments and quarrels of any kind close to bedtime. Anger, worry, regret are emotions that might keep you awake for many hours. 
  • Avoid watching news and violent or distressing movies before sleep. 
  • Never ever tell yourself that you cannot sleep. You are creating unnecessary anxiety and programming your neural response in a negative way.
  • If nothing helps, take a small dose of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally synthesized and secreted by the pineal gland, but its production diminishes with age. A dose as small as 1,5 mg can make a big difference. Make sure, however, that you consult a certified medical practitioner before resorting to supplementation. 

If you have trouble sleeping I hope that this short article will help you find the best solution to your problem. With a few simple tricks you certainly can manage to get some sleep every night until sleeping soundly becomes a habit.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2014

For more information about sleep solutions please click here 

Additional information about sleep at the National Sleep Foundation


*Information in this article is for educational purposes only. It not meant to diagnose or cure a disease. 

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated