Good sleep is the basis of good health. Waking up refreshed, well rested and ready to take on the day is truly one of life’s pleasures, but unfortunately isn’t experinced by many. Too many people experience challenges with their sleep and it doesn’t need to be this way. There can be many reasons why someone isn’t sleeping properly but a great place to start is by addressing some basic sleep hygeiene.
Here are five things you can do to improve your sleep from today.
1. Avoid caffeine after midday
Most people understand the effects of caffeine, but what isn’t common knowledge is just how long the effects caffeine can remain in your system. Research indicates caffeine can stay in your system for about eight hours, and in some instances up to 14 hours. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolate. Try not having caffeine after midday consistently and see if your sleep improves, and be sure to not squash in extras before midday! There are many delicious replacements you can use instead, including herbal teas. And if you cringe at how watery this will be – and hence not appealing – then it’s likely it’s the milk you want and you are most likely hungry when you are seeking a mid-afternoon coffee. Take some nuts from home to have as a snack instead.
2. Take up a meditation practice
Daily meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and may even have an effect on pain. Research suggests mindfulness meditation practice is particularly effective for improving sleep in people with sleep disorders such as insomnia. Guided meditations designed to encourage relaxation can be particularly helpful for beginners. There are many different places you can try meditation courses, which can guide you through the basics and help you find a style of meditation that suits you.
3. Relax in a bath
Soaking in a nice warm bath can be a great way to de-stress and signal to your body the transition to rest time has come. Light a scented candle or use some lavender oil and invite the calm into your evening. Beyond the stress reducing effect, a warm bath also slightly changes your body temperature which can also promote better sleep. It’s best to take your bath about one to two hours before you sleep, to help support your body to transition into rest.
4. Keep your space tidy and wash your sheets often
It’s difficult to relax in a cluttered or messy room. Make your space sleep friendly by keeping the space clear and tidy. Healthy bedding is also important. Wash your sheets regularly and dry them on the line whenever possible as the UV, helps to kill bacteria and keep them naturally crisp and clean. Also consider the age of your bed as research suggests kiwis keep them too long for good support. Also, due to perspiration and skin sloughing off, dust mites can take up residence in mattresses and promote allergies.
5. Avoid back-lit electronic devices at night
TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets emit a sleep-disrupting light, yet many people still habitually check their social media or email before they go to bed. Create a new habit of not using backlit devices for 90 minutes prior to sleep if sleep quality is a problem for you. If you must sleep with your phone near you, switch to airplane mode or equivalent to prevent any notifications or noises in the middle of the night.