Getting enough sleep each night is essential for feeling well, functioning efficiently and keeping stress levels down. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, moodiness and fatigue. Sleep habits, called hygiene, are vital to good health for mind and body. The Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Maryland recommends keeping a good sleep routine which requires commitment if it's going to be effective in getting a better sleep. A few simple changes can make the difference for a more restful sleep.
Better Sleep Tips
Use the space for sleep and sex only. Associating other activities--work, games, etc., takes the focus off of sleep. Arrange the furniture so that the room is restfull without desks or other work related pieces. The bed should be comfortable with favorite linens and blankets. The temperature of the room should be at pleasant setting and light sources eliminated. Get lined drapes and add blinds if necessary for daylight sleeping times. Remove or cover illuminated clocks. If noise from outside of the room is a problem, consider a white noise machine, a fan or other source of background noise. White noise is a constant noise like the sound a fan makes.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants before bed. They can have an effect for up to four hours after being consumed. Diet foods or beverages with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners should be reduced or eliminated. Set aside time to relax and enjoy a cup of herbal tea; perhaps chamomile to relax. Take a warm bath. Have a light snack with protein. The protein, such as turkey or milk, introduces the needed L-tryptophan to help the body produce serotonin. Read awhile. Some people don't find watching television relaxing and should avoid it. Some find reading helps them nod off.
Long Term Tips
Eat as naturally as possible. Foods that produce gas can have a negative effect on sleep and many additives cause excess gas in the digestive tract. Avoid eating any foods that are difficult to digest. Nuts, acidic foods and sugars shouldn't be eaten before bedtime, inhibiting a good night's sleep. Preservatives can set off minor allergic reactions and should be avoided.
Alcohol may seem to be a relaxant, but that drowsiness doesn't necessarily last and alcohol can cause disrupted sleep. This type of sleep usually does not leave the sleeper feeling rested upon waking.
Regular exercise helps to promote more restful sleeps and reduces the number of times waking up. It aids blood flow, reduces muscle cramping and the need to urinate in the night.
Many prescription and over-the-counter medications have sleeplessness as a possible side effect. A doctor or pharmacist can answer questions about the contraindications.
University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center: Sleep Hygiene: Helpful Hints to Help You Sleep
University of Michigan Health: You Really Need to Sleep
2011 J Thompson
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