When you have a busy life that sees you on the go all day, and fitting in exercise as much as possible, it’s incredibly important to fuel your body well. Although nutrition is a big part of this, many people forget the necessity for a good night’s sleep.
A sound slumber has a number of positive effects on the mind and body, including an improved immune system, better mood, and increased energy, productivity, and even life span. As a result, it’s vital to rest well every night and enjoy a decent amount of sleep (around eight hours is best).
If you suffer from insomnia, or just don’t seem to be able to stay asleep and feel rested when you wake up, there are plenty of natural ways you can help your physical and mental self to wind down more before bed. From drinking some relaxing valerian root tea, and switching off appliances, to going to bed at the same time each night, there are a variety of ways in which you can prompt your body to get set for sleep. Read on for some top tips to achieving a rejuvenating night’s rest.
1. Create a Sleep Routine
One of the best ways to improve your quality of sleep is to create a schedule not just for when you wake up, but also for when you go to bed each night. Going to sleep at the same time each and every day helps your biological clock to remain steady. This in turn assists you to sleep better and feel more rejuvenated in the morning. A consistent sleep routine needs to be kept up over the weekends too, not just during the working week.
If you have trouble going to bed at a regular time (perhaps that Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory marathon is too hard to draw yourself away from) think about setting yourself a nightly alarm to remind you it’s time to get ready for bed.
2. Avoid Caffeine and Eating Late in the Day
Caffeine is a popular stimulant that helps you feel more awake of a morning, but it’s also something that should be avoided for at least four to six hours before you go to bed. This means that your afternoon coffee, hot chocolate, or cola should be swapped for something that soothes the system instead.
Organic valerian root tea made from bleach-free bags, for example, is a great beverage to consume later in the day. The toxin-free drink is calming for both the body and the mind, and will be a much better aid for a good night’s sleep than a caffeine-laden concoction.
It’s also beneficial to avoid eating anything too close to your bedtime, particularly heavy meals. If your body is still trying to digest food (especially protein, such as meat, that takes a long time to go down) this can keep you up at night. If you’re ravenous and can’t keep from munching on a late-night snack, just make sure you consume something that’s light.
3. Cut Out or Cut Back on Smoking and Alcohol
Other items to avoid all together, or at least to cut back on of an evening, are cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. Like caffeine, nicotine found in cigarettes and cigars is a stimulant, and can keep you awake til all hours as a result.
In addition, it’s common for smokers to suffer from withdrawal pangs at night time, something else that can stop you from sleeping well. Smoking can also exacerbate issues like sleep apnea and breathing disorders, leading to an interrupted sleep.
People who like a glass of whisky just before bed should think twice about their habits as well. A few hours after consuming a beverage like beer, wine, or spirits, the alcohol levels in the blood start to drop. This actually signals the body to wake up, which is not something you want happening when you need to have a good night’s rest. If you enjoy an alcoholic drink with dinner, make sure you’re finished at least two hours before you head to bed.
4. Leave Time to Unwind Before Bed
Bright light is a trigger to the brain that we need to be wide awake and alert. This means that light-emitting gadgets such as televisions, laptops, smartphones and tablets need to be powered down at least an hour before sleep.
Furthermore, by keeping devices out of the bedroom and in living rooms or offices instead, this helps to strengthen the mental association you have between sleep and your place of rest. Your brain will know that when you go to bed it’s time to sleep, not to work or be stimulated by TV shows and the like.