9 Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

Tossing and turning instead of sleeping soundly? Waking up feeling more tired than before you went to bed? If it seems like your journey to the Land of Nod has been permanently rerouted, it’s time to observe some simple tricks to getting a good night’s sleep.

Check the temperature
 If your bedroom is too hot or too cold, you’ll struggle to sleep soundly. For the most restful sleep, keep your thermostat between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Extra blankets in winter and a portable fan in summer are simple ways to keep your body temperature in the snooze zone.

Get into the groove
Follow a regular bedtime routine and your mind will soon get into the habit of telling your body it’s time to wind down and get ready for shut-eye. Start your routine at least an hour or so before your bedtime, and remember to shut off electronic devices before slipping between the sheets.

Don’t worry, be happy
 You know the drill. You get into bed – or wake up out of a sound sleep – then lie awake for the next few hours, periodically checking your clock and calculating how many hours of sleep you’ll manage to get if you can just fall asleep now.
Instead, let the worry and the stress go. Use an old trick like counting sheep (or whatever you fancy), use a meditation technique like counting your breaths, or simply think about what is good in your life. A calm mind is likelier to drift off to sleep.

Nix naps
Though a nap can be tempting after a night without quality sleep, an overly-long nap is likely to leave you struggling to sleep well that night as well. If you cannot resist the lure of an afternoon siesta, aim for a power nap of 10 to 20 minutes, and don’t nap later than 3:00 in the afternoon.

Watch what you eat
No doubt you are aware that coffee or tea too late in the afternoon can leave you wide-eyed when it’s time to hit the hay. But there are other foods that disrupt sleep, as well. Try to avoid the following within two or three hours of bedtime:
  • Dark chocolate – it contains around one-third the caffeine of coffee
  • Meat – high protein foods digest slowly and interfere with the sleep cycle
  • Alcohol – it might help you fall asleep faster, but alcohol interferes with restorative REM sleep
  • Spicy food – a tummy on fire is a tummy that is going to keep you awake
  • High-fiber foods – your body needs plenty of fiber to stay healthy and regular. But fiber at bedtime works your digestive system through the night, decreasing the quality of your rest.
  • Tomatoes – and onions, citrus fruit and other acidic eats. These foods can bring on a bout of reflux, sure to keep you awake.
If you crave a bedtime snack, stick with something that has plenty of carbs and a little bit of protein. A smear of peanut butter on toast, bowl of cereal with milk, or banana pieces in cottage cheese are good choices.

Cushion your knees
Even though you don’t wake up with back pain, your core muscles might still be straining through the night, hampering quality rest. Reduce the strain on your hips and lower back by sleeping with a small pillow tucked between your knees (if you’re a side sleeper) or underneath your knees if you sleep on your back.

Check your pillow
Is your pillow too fat, too thin, too hard, too soft? The perfect pillow is a matter of preference, but if your pillow holds your head at an awkward angle, instead of aligned with your spine, your sleep will suffer.  Even a comfortable pillow needs replacing after a year or so, as the filler settles and compresses, reducing the support.

Get up
If you lie awake longer than 20 minutes or so, try getting out of bed, retreating to another area of the house – somewhere dark, quiet and comfortable – and relaxing quietly until you start to feel sleepy. Then head back to bed. This prevents associating your bed with sleeplessness.

Exercise, but not right before bed
You sleep best when your body temperature drops a degree or two. Exercise heats you up, preventing the natural drop in core temperature. That’s not an excuse to skip the gym, however: schedule your workout at least four hours before bedtime and you’ll be fine.

A good night’s sleep is crucial for a healthy body and a healthy mind. If you’ve been struggling to catch an elusive 40 winks, try these simple ways to improve your sleep. You’re on the right track when you wake up feeling refreshed and alert, instead of spending the day dreaming about your pillow.

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Lifestyle Magazine: 9 Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
9 Tips for a Good Night's Sleep
Lifestyle Magazine
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