Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and well-being. Adequate sleep gives your body time and energy to recover from the day's stresses, and helps you to stay sharp and focused throughout your day. If you've already figured out how to fall asleep, but you're having trouble getting good sleep through the night (i.e., you're tossing, turning, waking up more than once), this article will explain what you can do to ensure a peaceful night's slumber!
Making the Bed Welcoming
- 1Make your bedroom a heaven. Keep the clutter and chaos of everyday life at a minimum in your bedroom. Keep the textures soothing and inviting, and the light warm and saturated. Get the best sheets you can afford, too: the more comfortable your bed and bedroom are, the more conducive they are to a restful sleep.
- 2Maintain your mattress. Replace it after five to seven years of regular use. If you feel springs or ridges beneath the surface when you're lying on the bed, or you and your partner tend roll to the middle of the bed (unintentionally), it's time to go mattress shopping.
- You may also find that the mattress is to blame if you find yourself sleeping better in another bed.
- 3Get comfy. Take out any hair pieces and put on loose clothes, preferably cotton pajamas.
- 4Check out the new technology. The newer types of mattresses that allow for adjustment or that mold around you may help you get a better night's sleep.
- One type of mattress lets you adjust the firmness of your bed, individually, for both you and your partner. This is ideal if you can never agree on which mattress feels 'right'. You may both have different needs, and trying to find one you will both like generally means finding a mattress that neither of you will get a good night's sleep on.
- Another type of mattress uses "memory foam," which molds to the contours of your body as it warms up. This leaves no "pressure points" to cause numbness, irritation or other physical issues. This is especially useful for those with bad hips or other joints.
- 5Sleep in a different position. Changing your sleeping position can make a huge difference in the quality of your sleep. You may think that it's impossible to control what position you sleep in since you aren't fully aware of what you're doing, but it is possible to change. It can make a considerable difference to how you sleep and feel upon waking. When you go to sleep, or if you wake up in the middle of the night, make a conscious effort to follow these guidelines until it becomes habitual:
- Keep your body in a "mid-line" position, where both your head and neck are kept roughly straight. Don't use a pillow that's too skinny, and causes your head to tilt down toward the mattress. Likewise, don't stack your pillows so that your head is propped at an angle.
- Place a pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side. This will support your hips and make this position more comfortable.
- Place a pillow under your legs if you sleep on your back.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. It's difficult to maintain the proper position, and it is more likely to cause aches and pains. If you wish to sleep on your stomach, put your pillow under your hips instead of under your head.
Taking a Bath
- 1Take a warm bath. Sometimes a warm shower can relax your body and feel clean. Studies suggest that bath relax have good results in elderly (67-83) and younger (17-23), providing at least three hours of good rest with lower movements than without the bath.
- You should try to take the bath a couple of hours before you go to bed.
Moderating your Diet
- 1Keep an eye on your evening diet. Allow at least three hours after you eat before bed time: digestion slows down at night, and a full stomach may interrupt sleep. The heavier the meal, the longer it takes for your stomach to settle.
- 2Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach. A completely empty stomach may interfere with your sleeping patterns just as much as going to bed full.
- If you find that your stomach is grumbling for food and is keeping you awake, have a light snack about an hour before bedtime. Avoid foods high in carbohydrates or sugar, but foods like turkey, yogurt, soy beans, tuna, and peanuts contain tryptophan, which can help the body produce serotonin in order to relax.
- 3Switch to decaffeinated coffee. Avoid black teas, cocoa, and caffeinated soda, especially in the evenings. Caffeine can keep you awake even if you drank it earlier in the day, as its effects can last up to 12 hours. Avoid tobacco products in the evenings as well.
- 4Drink a relaxing beverage. A warm glass of milk or chamomile tea will put you in the right mood to rest. Having a glass of water at your nightstand during the night works well if you wake up in the middle of the night.
- 5Don't drink and sleep. Try to avoid drinking water or other fluids one hour before you go to sleep, but make sure you drink at least two liters of water during the day.
- A well-hydrated body will not wake you up thirsty in the middle of the night, but drink a big glass of water just before bed, and you will be up in the middle of the night to "de-hydrate."
- 6Skip that nightcap. While alcohol will make you feel sleepy, it will also reduce the quality of your sleep as your body processes the alcohol and sugars. Alcohol tends to produce broken, shallow sleep (even if you don't notice the periods of waking during the night), which does not refresh.
Setting the Stage for Sleep
- 1Lower the lights an hour before bedtime. As the evening works its way towards bed time, start lowering the overall light level in your home. Your body can't tell the difference between "bright light" and "daylight" for purposes of regulating your sleep.
- A darkening room tells your body that sleep time is near, and it will start producing the hormones that aid in falling asleep, and staying asleep.
- 2Turn out the lights. When it's finally time to hit the sack, keep the room as dark as possible. Exposure to light during the time you're supposed to be sleeping can disrupt your body's internal clock. It's one of the primary clues to the body that it's either sleep time, or waking time. This has been documented in studies surrounding circadian rhythms.
- If you must have light in the room—–for example, you're in an unfamiliar house and you don't want to use the braille method for finding your way to the bathroom at 3 a.m.—–use a very dim night light. Pull the blinds down or shut the shutters to prevent outdoor lights, or the full moon, occasionally, from shining in. If you wake up and see any kind of bright light, you'll have a much harder time falling back asleep.
- 3Try to eliminate all other sources of light. This includes windows, LED clocks, computer lights, cable boxes, and all those other devices with blinking, glowing lights and LEDs. You can cover them with heavy paper, cloth covers, masking tape, or just unplug them. Not only will you get a good night's sleep, you'll save electricity.
- If you must have a light at some point in the night, red lights will not affect your night vision. Pilots flying at night use flashlights with red lenses so that their night vision isn't destroyed by white light.
- For a truly soothing evening, prepare for bed, then put on some ambient music, and instead of incandescent lights, light several candles in your living room and in your bedroom. For the last 15 minutes to half an hour, practice meditation, focusing on relaxing your body. When it's time, extinguish the candles as you make your way to the bedroom. Your home will get progressively darker until the last candle is extinguished.
- 4Put on an eye mask. Eliminating all light is the most important thing you can do to fall asleep and stay asleep. Light not only inhibits the production of sleep hormones but also stimulates the body to feel awake and alert. The light can also keep you awake.
- Sometimes lavender eye "pillows" can be more relaxing.
- Sometimes lavender eye "pillows" can be more relaxing.
- 5Add a splash of sound. Use a white noise generator that generates various soothing sounds—–surf, wind, steam—–these are sounds that have no shape, and they can help your brain to de-focus on right now.
- White noise has been shown to not only help people fall asleep more quickly, but also it can disguise other noises that may wake you during the night.
- Repetitive or ambient music is very good for falling asleep. What's especially important is that there be no dramatic shifts in the dynamics of the music. Ambient music, such as that produced by Brian Eno, is ideal. Just be sure that the music stops or fades out in about an hour, or it could keep you from experiencing really deep sleep.
Exercising Your Body to Relax Your Mind
- 1Exercise regularly. If you have a sedentary job, a lack of physical exertion may contribute to reducing the quality of your sleep. The human body uses sleep to repair and recover. If there isn't much from which to recover, your body's sleep cycle could be disrupted.
- The best time to prepare for a good night's sleep is the first thing in the morning.
- A day of physical exertion (such as taking a run or a swim) or better yet, regular exercise, can make for deeper and more restful sleep. To add in exercise where it doesn't feel like it, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of catching the bus, and so forth.
- Don't exercise right before bed to help you get to sleep; while it tires out your muscles, it also boosts your heart rate and causes you to feel even wider awake. Give your body time to cool down, and for you to rehydrate, so consider about two hours before bedtime as an absolute cutoff for exercise.
- 2Take a deep breath. Many outside factors can contribute to overall sleep problems, including stress, certain illnesses, or short-term post-traumatic stress. Have there been any recent events or changes that have been troubling or otherwise preoccupying you? This issue may be following you subconsciously and interfering with your sleep.
- If the issue itself cannot be addressed or resolved directly, consider employing relaxation techniques such as meditation.
- Medical help is recommended for mental illness, post-traumatic stress, ongoing distress caused by insomnia, anxiety, etc.
- 3Get on schedule. Varying your sleeping times by more than an hour can severely disrupt your sleep quality by breaking your circadian rhythm, and advancing the sleep phase.
- For example, if you normally wake up at 6 a.m. on weekdays to get to work, you might get to bed around 10 p.m., because that's when you start to feel sleepy (and it's also a good time to ensure 8 hours of sleep). If, on the weekend, you sleep in until 9 a.m., your body will likely not be ready to sleep again until 1 a.m.
- Your body loves routine; erratic sleeping sessions will interfere with your internal biological clock, either leaving you tired during the day, or wide awake in the middle of the night.
- 4Take a nap. For some people, and depending on work and your daily routine, a very short rest in the afternoon (the Spanish call it a siesta) could help alleviate the drowsiness some people experience during the day. But make sure not to oversleep!
- When you feel the need for a nap (should your job allow), set your timer for 15 minutes. If you're ready for a nap, you'll be asleep in a minute or two. When the timer goes off, don't snooze! Have a glass of water, and jump back into work. You will feel much more refreshed—–even more so than if you had slept for an hour.
Medication for Better Sleep
- 1Try melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain. The pineal actively converts serotonin to melatonin when it is dark, but when light is present it does not do so, and the melatonin oxidizes back into serotonin.
- Artificial lighting—including computer or television monitors, and the ubiquitous tablet—can interfere with the synthesis of melatonin.
- Supplementing with melatonin pills is a natural way to induce sleep, especially if you are physically tired at night but are still unable to fall asleep.
- 2Try plain antihistamine products that cause drowsiness. These are safe when taken "without extra ingredients"—–i.e. no pain relievers, decongestant, expectorant, etc., but only for a night or two, as tolerance to them quickly builds. They are not recommended as a long-term, ongoing solution––merely as a way to "kick start" you back into a good routine of regular bedtimes, relaxation techniques and managing stress.
- Read the labels to know what you’re getting into. Try half or less of the usual dose so that you don’t end up with a "sleeping pill hangover," which will only make your sleep situation worse.
- Be lying down in bed when your drowsiness kicks in.
- If you use prescription drugs, check with your doctor before taking anything else. Never blindly mix medications: with the wrong combination, you could end up mixing medications blindly.
- 3Tell your doctor if you are concerned that you might have a sleep disorder. Some of the most common sleep disorders are insomnia, narcolepsy, parasomnias, and heartburn (acid reflux). If you are indeed suffering from and are diagnosed with any of these conditions, your doctor will recommend treatment accordingly.
- 1Enjoy your sleep. Being in good physical condition, with the right nutrition, and regular meditation will not only help you get a good night's sleep, it will help you in all walks of life. When you regularly get a good night's sleep, those walks will be many!
- 1Take deep breaths. This will help your heart stop pumping too much blood around your body,and therefore calming you down.
- 2Do some basic stretches. This loosens up your body and helps to decrease the chances of you aching in the morning.
- 3Have a warm bath or some hot milk. These will help you unwind,especially after a tiresome day.
- 4About an hour before bed, lower the light level.This helps your body to get used to a calmer, darker atmosphere.