Over half of all adults today are sleep deprived. According to Dr. William Dement, Stanford University professor and one of the nation’s leading sleep researchers, people who get less than a full night’s sleep feel significantly less happy, more stressed, more physically frail, and more mentally and physically exhausted as a result.
We’ve compiled a few tips to help you achieve a better night’s sleep:
Your bedroom is your sanctuary. The sleeping environment should be dark and cool. Absolute quiet is the rule, however, if you have trouble falling asleep try certain ‘white noise’ type sounds such as the hum of a fan, the recorded sounds of nature, or an old radio with the dial set between two stations. Crisp cotton sheets and a made bed, as well as an uncluttered bedroom, invite sleep. Watching TV, reading or working in bed send mixed signals to the sleepy brain. Use the bed for sleep and pleasurable sexual activity.
Finish your last meal at least two hours before bedtime. Avoid heavy dinners and too much alcohol. This may put you to sleep but is more likely to wake you up in the middle of the night. Avoid caffeine after 2 pm.
A daily routine of exercise, such as yoga, will promote deeper, more restorative sleep. Gentle stretching before bedtime can help the body and mind wind down from the day and begin the process of relaxing.
Deep breathing techniques can also quiet the mind and prepare you for sleep. Try lying on your back and focusing on the quality of your breath. If thoughts pop into your head, bring the mind’s attention back to the breath. When it’s time for sleep, lie on your right side. This will open up the breathing passages in your left nostril, which promotes calm and relaxation. You may also find it more comfortable when lying on your side to put a pillow between your legs.
Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. Once you establish a routine, your body will fall into the rhythmic patterns of sleep that restore life’s energy. Most people need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep every night to be fully rested and recharged.
Stress is one of the greatest inhibitors of sleep. Avoid doing work or paying bills late in the evening. Get into the routine of unwinding from your day at least an hour before bedtime. If you have thoughts that are keeping you from sleep, write them down and put them away for the following day.
Try the above sleep tips. After three weeks of nightly restorative sleep, you will be amazed at how much better you feel! In the long run, you will find your energy increased and your immune system strengthened. A study by the American Cancer Society shows a significant association between sleep and longevity!
Sweet dreams, sleep well.