Sleep plays a paramount role in our overall health and well-being and getting enough sleep is essential for the optimal functioning of mental, physical and emotional health, as well as the general quality of your life. The way you feel during your waking hours are a direct result from the amount of sleep you got the night before and whether it was sufficient to rest the body and brain enough to function properly the following day. If you didn’t get enough hours of sleep, you would feel exhausted and drained, which can lead to a number of problems, as well as be a risk your safety. If you have an issue falling asleep or are finding it difficult to get enough hours of rest, here are a few tips for sleeping better naturally, without having to resort to desperate measures or see a doctor.
1. Find a good sleep routine- The trick to getting a decent amount of sleep every night is to have a set sleep routine or a planned sleep schedule. The key is consistency and regularity – once you have found a routine that works for you, stick with it, so that your body get used to the same amount of hours of sleep every night.
- Set regular times for bed and waking up each day – this regularity night after night will encourage deep sleep and relaxation and healthy restorative functioning.
- Find out what works for you – some people might be early-to-bed-early-risers while others the opposite – find a routine and schedule that fits into your lifestyle and work around that.
- Take naps if you can – there is something to be said for the ‘power nap’. If you feel like worn-out due lack of sleep, take a nap during the day to make up for it – this will help get your body back into its regular routine.
2. Regulate your sleep-wake cycle – Regulate your sleep-wake cycle by boosting your Vitamin D levels during the day. Unnatural light causes the production of melatonin hormone, which helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle and being exposed to false light all day long can induce this hormone and make you feel sleepy. Therefore, try and expose yourself to bright, natural light each day – i.e. if you are stuck in an office, go for a walk around the block at lunchtime or try and sit next to a window where there is natural light during the day.
3. Healthy diet and exercise- A healthy diet and regular exercise can affect the amount of sleep, as well as the way you sleep at night. Regular exercise will ensure you use any excess energy stores you might have left over from the day, which could keep you awake at night, as well as tires the body sufficiently to need to rest.
- Avoid heavy meals in the evening, as this can cause the body to stay awake while trying to digest all the food.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before getting into bed at night as this will keep the brain active and awake, not allowing for sufficient rest.
- Avoid drinking too many liquids before going to bed as this will cause a need to get up during the night to relieve your bladder.
4. Keep stress at bay- Stress is a killer and worrying about things at night will keep you awake. Try and leave work at work and not to worry or stress about things before going to sleep. Even if you do fall asleep with things on your mind, you might not sleep fitfully as your subconscious will still be active. If you can, leave your worries at the door when you go to bed.
5. Make your bedroom sleep-friendly- If your bedroom is a comfortable haven which calls for relaxation and tranquillity, you will fall asleep far easier. Make your room into such a cozy haven by:
- Eliminating any loud noises – wear ear plugs if you can’t find a way to keep the sounds of barking dogs and heavy traffic out.
- Buy a comfortable bed – there is nothing better than sinking into a comfortable bed at the end of a long day and waking up feeling rested without any aches and pains. Spend a bit extra to ensure you get a bed that works with you.
- Keep cool – keep your room at an ambient temperature so as to ensure you don’t overheat or get too cold during the night, which will cause you to wake up and interrupt your sleep pattern.
6. Breathe deeply- Try some relaxation methods, such as deep breathing, relaxing your muscles one by one and visualization of peaceful, tranquil places, to help you fall asleep.