Most people would agree with the playwright, Wilson Mizner’s comment that “the amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.” Although we spend around a third of our lives sleeping, sometimes we just don’t seem to be getting enough. Here are some Steps to Sleeping Better and getting on the right track.
Sensible Steps to Sleeping Better
So, how do you know if you’re getting enough sleep? Falling asleep at your desk is a good indicator, but even if you don’t succumb to an afternoon nap you may still be sleep deprived. A good indicator is how quickly you fall asleep when you go to bed. If you’re out for the count as soon as your head hits the pillow then you’re definitely not getting enough.
Why You’re Not Sleeping Well
Here are some reasons you may not be getting a good night’s sleep and what to do about them.
- You have an uncomfortable mattress: Your mattress may be so old that you can feel an odd spring sticking out here and there, or maybe it’s sagging on one side and your back is always sore in the morning. Having a supportive mattress is essential for healthy sleep hygiene; otherwise, you will be tossing and turning all night trying to find a comfortable position. Visit Mattress-Guides.net for more information on the type of mattress that’s right for you.
- You’re staying up too late: Of course, staying up too late is not going to help and these days, the Internet is one of the top sleep distractions, so it’s important to try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. You should get used to a regular sleep routine where you go to sleep at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on days when you don’t have to go to work.
- You are suffering from stress: Stress can cause insomnia by making it difficult for you to fall asleep and then once you do manage to nod off, it can make it difficult to stay asleep. This condition is called sleep anxiety. It can be caused by stress at work, within the family or because of a recent life event. If you’re suffering from this type of sleep disorder you should talk to your family practitioner about it.
- You stay in bed when you can’t sleep: If you’ve tried everything you can think of to relax, from deep breathing and meditation to guided hypnosis and you still can’t fall asleep, don’t just lie there feeling miserable. Get up and sit in a chair and read a book or listen to some soothing music. If you continue to struggle with your insomnia in the bedroom, you will begin to associate your bed with discomfort and this will make it even more difficult for you to relax.
Foods that Help you Get your Zzzs
If you’re spending the night tossing and turning, you may want to make a few adjustments to your diet. You may have heard that eating before bedtime is not good for you, and while this is sound advice, what you eat and drink for your last meal will affect your slumber.
Walnuts: If you want a pre-bedtime snack that will help regulate your sleep cycle, this is a good one to choose. Walnuts contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body make the hormones to set your body clock.
Oatmeal: If you’re not feeling nutty, warm milk and oatmeal will fit the bill. Added to the soothing benefits of milk, oatmeal has a whole team of sleep supporting minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium and silicon, not to mention the warm, comforting glow hot oatmeal always leaves behind.
Oily fish: Halibut, salmon, and tuna all help boost your melatonin levels, and they’re rich in B vitamins which help regulate your body’s tryptophan levels.
Cherry juice: Tart cherry juice is a natural sleep aid. A glass after dinner can help you get a better night’s sleep because it’s power-packed with antioxidants that will increase your melatonin levels.
Honey: Honey’s natural sugar will raise your insulin levels slightly, allowing tryptophan to reach your brain more easily. Take a spoonful at bedtime or mixed with a cup of chamomile or passion fruit tea and you’ll be feeling drowsy in no time.
Don’t forget, eat your last meal at least 4 hours before you hit the hay so that you will have time to digest your food and avoid the discomfort of acid reflux. And remember to set the alarm, you might sleep so well that you’ll need a little help waking up.
What steps to sleeping better have you been taking? Are there areas you need to work on or ways that have worked better for you than others? Share your tips and tricks with us.