Tips to Sleep Better

Our entire generation suffers from these giant ailments – insomnia, sleeplessness, erratic sleeping hours and so on. The night owl in us refuses to address it as a serious matter of concern.

Several studies have shown that the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to have fixed sleeping and waking up timings. This rule applies even on weekends. But let’s blame our fast-paced lives for not being able to keep up with this routine.

Use these tips to sleep better at night:

1. Exercise regularly
Exercise reduces daytime sleepiness and acts as a physical stressor to the body. The brain compensates for this stress by increasing deep sleep at night.
Exercise at least five-six hours before hitting the sack as it increases heart rate and body temperature, making it difficult to fall asleep. However, it’s purely subjective as some people may find it equally rewarding to exercise in the evening.

2. Restrict caffeine consumption to day time
Caffeine inhibits the ability of sleep-promoting neurotransmitter adenosine to work. According to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, it takes several hours for the effect of caffeine to wear off. Hence, it is recommended you limit your caffeine consumption to afternoon or least 6 hours before bedtime to get a good night’s sleep.

 3. Avoid alcohol and smoking close to bedtime
Even though alcohol may make you feel relaxed and sleepy, it interferes with your deep sleep cycle. As a result, you might wake up in the middle of the night and not feel fresh the next day.
Nicotine mimics the effects of caffeine. Hence, smoking can keep you from falling asleep and studies show that smokers are likely to feel not as well rested after a night’s sleep than non-smokers.

4. Avoid eating heavy meals close to bedtime
Eating heavy, calorie-packed meals close to bedtime will keep your metabolism fired up and your digestive system active to properly digest the food. This will not only make it difficult to fall asleep but can also impact the quality of sleep. Hence, it is recommended you eat two-three hours before going to bed. Eating a protein-rich meal will keep you full so that you don’t feel hungry again right before bed.

5. Power down before going to bed
Turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before going to bed. Blue light from devices such as tablets, phones, laptops and televisions suppresses the production of sleep-promoting hormone, called melatonin; making it difficult to fall asleep.

6. Make your room sleep friendly
Your bedroom should be dark and cool (not cold) to ensure sound sleep. Experts recommend a room temperature between 18oC and 24oC. Make sure you invest in a good mattress and pillows and reserve your bed only for sleeping. This way your brain starts associating your bed with sleep, making it easier for you to hit the sack.

7. Unwind before bedtime
After a long day at work your body needs time to go into sleep mode. Do relaxing activities such as deep breathing, meditation or even writing down your thoughts, so your mind is at ease. A warm bath at least an hour before bedtime can also work wonders. It causes your body temperature to rise and then cool down. It is this dip in temperature that induces sleep. However, bathe too close to bedtime and an elevated body temperature will keep you up rather than putting you to sleep.

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