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December 28, 2014

20 Ingredients for Quality Sleep, Every Night.

 Petras Gagilas/Flickr

When it comes to sleep, the truth is that quality is what matters—not quantity.

There is no use getting eight or more hours of sleep every night if half the time is spent tossing and turning.

A good, restful night’s sleep will not only make us feel better in the short-term, it also has long-term health benefits too. When we are fully rested we are happier, calmer, have improved concentration, more energy and we are more likely to get the most out of ever day.

Sleep does not come naturally for everyone, and even for those who are able to sleep easily, there are plenty of ways in which we can improve our quality of sleep:

1. Room temperature:

For most people the optimum temperature for a great night sleep is between 60 and 68 degree Fahrenheit. If possible, set the thermostat somewhere in the middle. Otherwise, opening a window slightly if the weather is too hot/cold and set the radiators on a low, constant setting.

2. Noise levels:

A set of earplugs can work wonders to block out irritating outside noises. Or, soft background music or the humming of a fan can be enough to drown out any interference.

3. Set a schedule for sleep/awake time:

Going to bed and wakening up at the same time every day is one of the best ways to set the internal clock so that you do not feel drained when you crawl out of bed each morning.

4. Invest in a quality mattress:

A quality mattress is one of the best things that money can buy! On average we are asleep for 26 years of our life, and spending those years in comfort is hugely important to ensure we are fully rested.

5. Avoid computers, phones and all technology for at least an hour before bed.

6. Practice a simple meditation to relax the mind just before bedtime.

7. Read something soothing just before you sleep:

Refrain from books that causes over-thinking. Choose something that wouldn’t normally be considered, purely for relaxation so that it allows for low-concentration levels.

8. Be careful about eating or drinking too much before going to bed but at the same time, don’t go to sleep too hungry or thirsty. When possible, eat at least 3 hours before sleep.

9. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol before bed:

Although they may help to induce sleep in some cases, it will likely be a broken sleep cycle as they are all stimulants and the effects take hours to flush from the system. Switch to decaf coffee or tea before bed or another hot drink that doesn’t contain caffeine.

10. Exercise daily:

Try to avoid exercising too late at night, as it will likely leave the body too energized to relax and sleep properly.

11. Jot down everything that is on your mind before sleep:

A busy mind will cause restlessness, so de-cluttering is imperative. Add to the list anything that is to be done the following day and this can boost the desire to get out of bed to tackle any tasks that need attention.

12. Invest in a wake-up light:

These lights adjust the light in the room so waking up is done gradually. They can also include soft noise for gentle arousal.

13. Adequate vitamin D supply:

A deficiency of Vitamin D can cause sleep disorders. If sunlight is not available for a daily dose of this nutrient, try a supplement until it is, to help keep things balanced.

14. A warm bath a couple of hours before bed can relax the body and mind to prepare for a fully rested sleep.

15. Make the room as dark as possible—darkness is what signals the body so that it prepares for sleep.

Use black out blinds or curtains and avoid sleeping with any lights, candles or glares from technology. If the room is still light, wear a sleep mask to completely cut out any light.

16. Short naps during the day:

Try not to nap for more than 30 minutes during the day. If a nap is needed set an alarm to go off after approximately 15 minutes.

17. Choose a good sleeping position and prop it up with pillows to ensure the body is fully supported:

If the sleeping posture is lying flat on the back, a pillow under the legs can be good support. If sleeping on the side, a pillow in between the legs will support the hips for a more comfortable and stable sleeping position. 

18. Ensure the pillows used for the head are good quality and offer the right support:

Too thick or too thin and they will cause an uncomfortable and unsupported sleep.

19. Only use the bed and bedroom for sleep and lovemaking:

Turn it into a relaxing haven with soft sheets and calming colours. Try not to eat, watch TV, play on phones or laptops, work or do any other activity in the bedroom. Associate the bedroom with relaxation and sleep and this will induce the body to produce much needed sleep hormones when it is time to rest in it at the end of each day.

20. Don’t worry about sleep:

The more we think about sleep, the less likely it is to happen. When we relax into bed, take the mind away from any thoughts of sleep and concentrate on breathing, let go or any thoughts and pay attention to how the body is feeling—ensuring the chosen position is comfortable and supported.

Let the body and head completely relax and sink fully into the mattress and pillows. Do not try to rush sleep, it will come when it is ready, just as soon as the body and mind can let go of the day and submerge into it.

“Many things: such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly- are done worst when we try hardest to do them.”

~ C.S. Lewis

When we prepare the mind and body as above, sleep should come very naturally. The more productive a sleep we have, the less hours we will need.

If we find that once we try out the suggestions above, we need less sleep than before, it most likely means that we are getting the full benefit from the amount of sleep we are having, so are bodies have rested and replenished more quickly.

There is no set amount of sleep that each person should be having, we are all different and the amount of time spent sleeping can vary. If sleep is still a major problem after trying the tips above, it may be beneficial to consult a doctor or professional.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/cant-sleep-adjust-the-temperature

http://greatist.com/happiness/how-pick-perfect-mattress

http://drgominak.com/vitamin-d-3/

http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/different-types-pillows

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Author: Alex Sandra Myles

Editor: Emma Ruffin

Photo:  Petras Gagilas/Flickr

 

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