Sleep is essential for good health and even a single night of tossing and turning can leave us feeling cranky and exhausted. What’s more, a lack of sleep makes us more sensitive to pain and more likely to injure ourselves through inattention. If you’re having difficulty drifting off, or finding yourself waking up throughout the night, read on to discover 7 top tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
1. Chill Out
Body temperature drops at night and this induces feelings of sleepiness. Help yourself drift off by taking a hot bath before bedtime and keeping your bedroom cool. Adding a little lavender to your bathwater can have an even greater calming effect.
2. Block Out Noise
The sounds of the city at night, and noisy neighbours, can be extremely disruptive to sleep. Use a white noise machine or even just a fan by the bed to drown out other sounds and decrease sleep disturbances.
3. Turn Out The Lights!
Sunlight contains many different colours, including blue light that acts on sensors in our eyes to help us feel alert and happy. As the sun sets and this blue light dissipates this stimulating effect subsides and we begin to feel sleepy. Alas, the advent of artificial light, computers, smartphones, and televisions means that many of us are still exposed to blue light even after the sun has set, which disrupts our natural sleep cycle. Switch your lights to those that omit blue light, install computer software that filters out blue light, hang blackout curtains, and stop using your smartphone in bed – you’ll find it much easier to sleep if your body doesn’t think it’s noon.
4. Sleep Alone
Sometimes it’s a real struggle to get good quality sleep while lying next to another person, no matter how lovely that person might be. Maybe they snore. Maybe they talk in their sleep. Maybe they steal the covers. If you have the option, separate beds can help keep everyone happy and avoid bleary-eyed morning arguments that lead to separate houses.
5. Cut Yourself Off From Caffeine
Coffee has numerous health benefits but helping you get to sleep is not one of them. Unfortunately, a bad night’s sleep can have us reaching for the caffeine, which then leads to another bad night of sleeplessness. Stop the vicious cycle by cutting yourself off from caffeine at noon and, if you find your attention wandering, take a walk, have a lively conversation with a coworker, or do some jumping jacks instead.
6. Eat Walnuts and Cherries at Bedtime
A little snack before bedtime can be a great way to make sure you won’t wake up at 3am feeling hungry and grumpy. Make that snack a handful of walnuts and cherries and you’ll give yourself a boost of melatonin that will induce snooziness and promote good quality sleep.
7. Try Natural Sleep Aids
Shift work, jet lag, and certain chronic health conditions can be really disruptive to sleep. In such cases, natural sleep support may be helpful to reestablish good sleep patterns. Melatonin supplements are a good option for many as these mimic the body’s natural circadian rhythm. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP), a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, is also popular, as is theanine, the calming amino acid found in tea which can stop your mind from racing at bedtime.
Chronic sleeplessness can be a sign of an underlying health issue such as diabetes or hormone irregularities, it can also both directly and indirectly contribute to the development of these conditions. Make sure to contact your health care provider if you’re concerned about your sleep patterns.