In a previous post, How Sleep Boosts Your Metabolism, we shared with you some of the important ways that a good night’s sleep can positively affect your mood, mental focus, and metabolism. Here, we offer a list of the most effective ways to improve the quality of your sleep, our 10 Tips to a Good Night’s Sleep:
- Seek Sunshine. Get consistent, regular exposure to bright light during the day and sleep in darkness at night. Not only does this increase your melatonin levels (a hormone made by the Pineal Gland in the brain that helps control your daily sleep-wake cycle), but will also help you reset and maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and tune your internal clock for optimal health. To ensure complete darkness at night, use black-out shades or sleep masks, turn off nightlights, and cover alarm clock lights. If you need a night-light to navigate in darkness, use a low-wattage red, orange or yellow bulb, since light in these bandwidths does not affect melatonin levels the way white or blue light does.
- The Power-Down Hour. One hour before you want to go to sleep, put your work away and power down all of your electronics, (TV, smart phone, computers, etc.). The light emitted from electronics mimic daylight and tricks the brain into being awake, disrupting the pineal gland function and stimulating your brain, preventing you from falling asleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Creating a ritual of things to do before bed readies your system physically and psychologically for sleep. This commonly includes washing your face and brushing your teeth, changing into comfortable sleep wear, reading a book, meditating, etc.
- Create a Sanctuary. Optimize your sleep sanctuary by reserving your bed exclusively for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it hard to relax and drift off to sleep, so avoid these activities in bed. Make your sleep area feel like a spa by clearing cutter from dressers and surrounding area. Clutter can actually add stress, by overwhelming the mind with visual chaos.
- Make your Sanctuary Comfy. Keep the temperature in your bedroom between 68-70 degrees. When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about 4 hours after you fall asleep. Scientists and sleep experts believe that a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.
- Read something Spiritual or Uplifting. This may help you to relax. Reading something stimulating like a suspense or mystery novel may have the opposite effect, keeping you engaged and wide awake.
- Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short-lived and you will wake up several hours later, unable to fall back to sleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its detoxing and healing.
- Avoid Sugary Snacks before bed. This will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low, you may wake up and be unable to fall back to sleep.
- Listen to relaxation CD’s. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as recordings of the ocean or forest, to be soothing and promote sleep.
- Avoid caffeine. For some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects long after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications and sports drinks contain caffeine, as do most types of chocolate.
Remember, getting adequate sleep not only enhances your metabolism and energy, it also greatly enhances your overall sense of well-being and mental clarity. My clients report that their work and personal relationships are much more satisfying when they learn how to sleep well. Plus, they are able to work more efficiently, opening up more time for their family and friends.
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