6 Tips For Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
Just over a year ago at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association convention, I heard Arianna Huffington give a keynote speech on wellness and on the importance of sleep, sharing with the audience a personal experience on a collapse resulting from the lack of it.
In March this year, the editor-in-chief of Huffington Post launched her new book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. The book retells the story of the fall she had nine years ago following exhaustion due to sleep deprivation, and details her journey of sleep exploration since then, which she is now sharing with the world.
While the tone of the book screams nagging-schoolteacher, and quotes some questionable statistics regarding the costs to the economy and also some arguable figures around how much sleep exactly will affect your risks of heart attacks, the core message is undoubtedly true—that too little sleep is not good for us all.
Now we have all experienced the effects of not getting enough sleep—poor concentration, impaired judgement, moodiness; and we have all read countless times about how it makes us gain weight, ages our skin, and more alarmingly, increases our risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults. So here are 6 tips for getting that shut-eye right.
1. Pattern/Body clock
We are creatures of habit. Establish a regular pattern that your body will learn to expect by going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day. Maintain this pattern even on weekends. It only takes 21 days to form a habit that your body will accept.
Tip: Mimic circadian rhythms using light—step into a bright room 5 minutes of waking up, and dim the lights in your bedroom an hour before sleeping.
2. Wind down
Chances are, you’re replying to important emails, setting out the agenda for tomorrow’s meetings, or finalising that crucial presentation details up to the point you go to bed. The brain takes time to tune out from all this activity, so put away any work, difficult decisions and conversations 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
Tip: The blue light emitted from our devices including mobile phones, tablets and televisions prevents the production of melatonin, a substance that induces sleep. Put them down at least 30 minutes to an hour before you hit the sack.
3. Watch your drinks
Pay attention to the effects that your drinks might be having on you. Caffeine after certain hours is a usual culprit in poor sleep. Alcohol may be effective in sending you off to dreamland, but is usually disruptive to deep sleep once the initial drowsy effects wear off.
Tip: Avoid liquids 2 hours before bed to reduce nighttime bathroom trips.
Check your “sleep posture”. The curve of your neck should be in its natural position whether back sleeper or a side sleeper. Sleeping on your front twists your neck and can be a deterrent to a deep sleep. Your lower back should also be supported by aligning your hips with a bolster.
Tip: Shop around for a few different pillows until you find one that gives you the right support.
5. Time your Exercise
Working out is great for getting a better night’s sleep, however, activities that are too strenuous results in an adrenaline boost that could curb sleep for a few hours. Gentler workouts such as yoga are a better option in the evening.
Tip: Save hard workouts for the mornings or aim to finish them at least 4 hours before bedtime.
6. Know when to see your doctor
If you consistently have trouble getting to sleep for over a month, it would be wise to consult your physician to correct any underlying problems that may be the cause of insomnia, such as heartburn, asthma, arthritis, depression or perhaps a medication that you are on.
Tip: Exercise caution when using sleeping medication. They are useful in the short-term but unsustainable.
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