Sleep is essential for good health and well-being, lack of sleep can contribute to weigh gain, hormonal imbalance, increases the risk of diseases in general and it compromises brain function and exercise performance. Sleep allows your brain and body to organised, maintain and repair themselves. During sleep your brain cells are repaired, your experiences are processed into memories, your memories are consolidated, growth hormone is released, the connections between your nervous cells are multiplied increasing brain plasticity and the abilities of decision making, time reaction and coordination of eyes and hands are optimized.
Here are some infallible tips for better sleep.
Exercise is one of the best ways to have a good night of sleep. Exercising during day time has been shown to reduce insomnia by regulating the release of stress hormones. Exercise has also been shown to reduce the fall asleep time providing in this way more sleeping time. Try to have 20-30 min vigorous exercise everyday to better your sleep.
- Breathing techniques
Anxiety and tension can cause superficial and accelerated breathing which can trouble your sleep. To overtake this, try to implement breathing techniques into your slow down routine with some minutes of abdominal breathing which will relax your brain and body to sleep. Try to lay down with an open book on top of your chest to help you visualize which muscles are moving while breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose while counting 9 seconds and watch your chest moving upwards then when the breathing reaches the stomach area push your abdomen upwards in a way that it will be more elevated than your book due to the expansion of your diaphragm. Sustain your breath for 9 seconds and exhale slowly through your nose while counting 9 seconds and letting your muscles relax.
- News only in the morning
Read or watch news only in the morning time, as they often contain sensational or shocking stories, avoid as well to watch crime or thriller movies during night time. They can contribute to brain excitation and lack of sleep. Avoid as well to watch crime movies during night time.
- Moderate light at night
Reduce light intensity through your house and bedroom at night, as bright light can interfere with melatonin production. Leave the light near your bed on for 30 min maximum and install blackout blinders in your windows.
- Have a sleep routine
Establishing a sleep routine with precise hours to sleep and awake up even during the weekends is one of the best ways to warranty a good might of sleep! A sleep routine will minimize disturbances in your circadian rhythm and prevent an age-related sleep aggravation.
- Go to bed earlier
Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every week while waking up at the same time until you achieve the right amount of sleep. Then follow your sleep routine to keep your sleep benefits. Research as shown that an extra hour of sleep can reduce the risk of coronary artery calcification and improve blood circulation through the body and brain.
- Get a bed timer
If you have difficulty in following your bed time, a timer might help you! It can regulate the lights intensity and switch appliances such as music devices and TV 15 minutes before your bed time.
- Turn your bed and room into a sleep paradise
Get a comfortable mattress, low pillow and quality sheets which should be changed at least once per week to keep your bed fresh and soft. Keep electronic devices out of the room as much as possible including mobiles, tablets and TVs. A sleep white noise machine, ear plugs or a fan to block exterior noise out of your room. More sleep you will have (8 to 9 hours) more cycles of sleep re-invigoration phases 3 and 4 you will have. As well as more chances to have a proper REM sleep phase as REM phase is achieved only after several cycles of sleep phase 3 and 4.
- Reduce night exposure to electronic gadgets
As blue light can greatly interfere with your sleep patterns by promoting insomnia and low sleep quality it will be very good to reduce your exposure to any electronic devices during night time.
- Eat and drink to sleep
Coffee, alcohol and tobacco can have a disruptive effect on your sleep as well as over eating, so the best option would be to avoid them altogether. Heavy meals can cause distress and indigestion so opt instead for a light dinner 3 or 4 hours beforehand and a light snack 1 hour before bed time. Avoid cheese, spicy foods or sugary foods at night. Instead have foods that promote serotonin production such as almond nuts, eggs and sunflower seeds.
- Check for a sleep disorder
Check with a doctor specialized in sleep to confirm that you are not suffering from a sleep disorder such as sleep apneia.
- Control your weight
Adequate body weight can reduce the probability of snoring and breathing disturbances while contributing to better sleep quality.
- Keep a diary
Research as shown that writing a daily diary of your life with what went on through your day and your main objectives for the day after while finishing with a positive note before bedtime can reduce your fall asleep time.
Reading a non-exciting book before sleep can help your sleep. A few pages may be enough to make you feel sleepy!
- When you can’t sleep
Keep a 20 minutes role, if you can’t sleep within 20 minutes come out of the bed leave the room and sit comfortably reading, do not watch TV or use your mobile or tablet. Repeat the cycle until you fall asleep.