3 Steps to Better Sleep
Not only does sleep take up a large portion of your day, but it is also incredibly important to your mental and physical recovery process. Inadequate sleep will cause problems such as inability to process memories, difficulty concentrating, understanding emotions, and regulating energy.
Step 1: Avoid these things before bed
Caffeine consumption affects the secretion of melatonin, the principal hormone that regulates sleep. Caffeine is not limited to coffee and also exists in some teas, soft drinks, and certain foods such as dark chocolate. Avoid 5 to 8 hours before bed.
Alcohol disrupts REM sleep cycles in the early stages of sleep. This means you miss out on vital deep phases of sleep. Avoid at least 3 hours before bed.
Eating too close to bedtime will divert the body’s nightly repair and recovery process towards digesting the food. Avoid 2 hours before bed.
Vigorous or intensive exercise will cause adrenaline to pump throughout your body making it more difficult to relax and get ready for bed. Avoid 2 to 3 hours before bed.
Your mind can stay active and engaged long after you have stopped scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and disrupt REM sleep. Avoid a minimum of 30 minutes before bed.
Step 2: Be diligent with your wind-down routine
Having a ritual before bed can help you fall asleep better because your brain works by associations. Regularly performing a series of relaxing tasks before bedtime will teach your brain to associate them with sleep. It then sends signals throughout your body indicating it is time to relax.
Everyone’s routine is different and can include different activities such as prayer and meditation, reflecting and journaling, a skincare routine, listening to calming music, taking a warm bath, and even spending quality time with loved ones amongst others. Your wind-down routine should also consider lighting and temperature. Dimming the lights and lowering the temperature can help you get cosy and make it easier to fall asleep at the right time.
Step 3: Invest in a comfortable mattress
A study on the benefits of a good new mattress found that it could improve sleep quality by up to 60%. It also reduced back pain, shoulder pain, and back stiffness. A misshapen or old mattress on the other hand increased lower back pain. The research suggests that most people adjust best to a medium-firm mattress as it promotes proper spinal alignment during sleep. You should be changing your mattress every six to ten years, depending on the type of mattress (hybrid spring mattresses last longer than foam or latex mattresses) and your weight.
Your behaviours, both during the day and around bedtime, will affect the quality of your sleep. Sticking to a schedule, having a relaxing bedtime routine, exercising regularly (but not before bedtime), keeping your bedroom dark and at a comfortable temperature, and watching what you eat and drink can all impact the quality of your sleep.
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