Dr. Emilia Saulle
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your mental and physical health. Research recommends adults get between six to eight hours of sleep per night. Anything less might have an adverse effect on your health. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infection such as colds and viruses. While you might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Start with these simple tips.
1. Going to bed at the same time
every night and waking up at the same time every morning will help to set your internal biological clock. Try to stick as closely as you can to your sleep and wake times even on weekends. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
2. Watch What You Eat Before Bed
Don’t eat a heavy meal just before bed. Especially one which may cause indigestion. Ideally, you should finish your dinner between 2-4 hours before bed.
3. Limit Caffeine, Alcohol, and Stimulants
If you must drink coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages, try to consume them in the early part of the day. These beverages should not be consumed for 4-6 hours prior to bedtime. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol have the effect of increasing urine production as your body breaks these substances down and attempts to eliminate them from your body. This can disrupt sleep by forcing you to get up and go to the bathroom.
4. Create a Relaxing, Sleep Promoting Bedroom
Your bedroom should be a place of relaxation and rest, not a work office or gaming room. Start with purchasing a comfortable mattress and bed with ample pillows. Remember to replace your mattress every 10 years and your pillows more often. You should also invest in window blinds or blackout shades that can adequately block outside light.
5. Limit Daytime Naps
Some people are fans of the so called “power nap”. This is when you take up to 20 minutes to close your eyes and rest during the day when you feel exhausted. If you must nap, do so before 5pm, otherwise you may have difficulty getting sleep at bedtime.
6. Sleep When You’re Tired
If you’re revved up just before bed, try to take an extra few minutes to do something relaxing. Going to bed with your mind still racing is counterproductive. If you find you’re still tossing and turning after 20 minutes, then get up. Watching the clock is not only a waste of time but can add stress and keep you awake.
7. Medical Intervention
Sleep deprivation can have serious negative health consequences. You should always try non-medicinal approaches to getting a good night’s sleep first. If none of these approaches seem to work, it’s time to seek medical attention. Sleep disorders can be treated in a variety of ways depending on their cause.