No matter who you are, the state of your health, your age, etc., sleep is essential to reinvigorate the body and refine one’s mental capacities. However, millions of people suffer from insomnia in the US. But these sleep disorders are not inevitable. It is often enough to follow a few rules to regain the pleasure of a good night’s sleep. Activities and drinks to ban before, diet, comfort of the room, follow our advice to find a quality sleep.
Avoid caffeine and theine
Coffee fans will be disappointed, it is better to have your last espresso after lunch. Likewise, regarding tea and cola drinks, it is best to stop them after 4 p.m. It is indeed proven that caffeine lengthens the time to fall asleep and shortens the time of sleep. Instead, drink an herbal tea made from soothing plants (lime blossom, verbena, chamomile or orange blossom, but also passionflower, valerian, hawthorn and hops), or a glass of warm milk which has a sedative effect.
No sport in the evening
Exercise is great for your health, but it is better to schedule your jog, gym, or swim session in the morning or during lunch break rather than in the evening. Indeed, from 7 p.m., the body temperature begins to drop, a sign that the body is preparing for rest. By increasing the heart rate, exercising maintains a higher body temperature and awakens the body, thus disrupting the biological rhythm. If your schedule does not allow you to practice during the day, take a lukewarm shower, and wait at least 2 hours after the end of your session to go to bed.
Difficult digestion interferes with sleep, so avoid heavy dinners before heading to bed. Avoid red meat, spicy dishes. Go for raw vegetables, white bread, pasta, fish and vegetables, and all dairy products that contain tryptophan, an amino acid precursor of serotonin! Finally, eat dinner as early as possible (ideally two hours before bedtime) as digestion increases body temperature.
A lukewarm bath to help you fall asleep
Do you take a hot bath at night to calm yourself down and prepare for sleep? That might be the reason why your sleep is not the best it can be. When the body is getting ready for sleep, it lowers its internal temperature. So you have to go in this direction, and instead offer yourself a lukewarm bath (or shower), 37 °C or 98.6 °F maximum, to calm yourself down.
Respect your sleep
Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Maybe you’re just missing out on your time to fall asleep, because you want to see the end of the movie, to finish your book, or because you are with friends. As sleep is organized in cycles of about an hour and a half, if you miss your “train”, you will have to wait for the next one! Thus, avoid staying up past your usual time to go to sleep. Furthermore, if possible, try to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day. If you abuse your sleep pattern, it will become more and more difficult for you to sleep well.
Watch out for screens
Some activities strongly disrupt sleep, especially staring at an electronic screen. Avoid television, video games and smartphones. These devices emit a blue light close to daylight which will trigger the mechanisms of wakefulness. It is therefore better to turn them off at least 1 hour before going to bed. Although there are now many ways to turn off the blue light of smartphones, it is best to ban screens in the bedroom.
Life by nature is full of worrisome concerns. Work, school, illnesses, taxes, etc. can all alter the course of sleep. Though it might be difficult to prevent oneself from thinking of such things, there are nonetheless certain actions that one can take to relieve the stress of life. At least 1 hour before going to bed, try to relax by practicing an activity you like (meditation, knitting, painting, reading, etc.) and put aside your “to-do lists”. It is also best to avoid marital disputes! Nothing disrupts sleep more than anger and rehashing marital resentments right before bed.
The bedroom, a place to sleep… and make love
It is essential to respect the role of your bedroom, it is a place to sleep and have sex, not a multi-activity room! Indeed, sex increases the level of oxytocin, a hormone that helps reduce stress by lowering the level of the stress hormone cortisol.
A room at the right temperature
In your room, ideally lower the temperature to 19 °C or 67 °F. And sleep with warm feet! Scientists have demonstrated that warming the extremities promotes the vasodilation of small vessels and therefore blood circulation. This contributes to falling asleep.
Keep the room dark and quiet
To sleep better, it is better to immerse your room in complete darkness: close the shutters, invest in blackout curtains or put on a sleep mask. Silence is also essential to guarantee a restful sleep. If your neighbors are noisy or your partner snores, invest in earplugs. However, someone find it easier to fall asleep when listening to some nature sounds like a rainfall. If that’s the case for you, do not hesitate to put on whatever sound you prefer but be mindful of your partner if you do not sleep alone.
A good mattress for a great sleep
It’s hard to sleep well when your mattress is not in good shape. It is recommended to change a mattress every 10 years, how old is yours? If your mattress shrieks at the slightest movement, if you wake up in the morning with back pain or neck pain, it might be time to invest in a new one. Some mattresses are especially designed for people with insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders. Talk to a specialist to find out which is best for you.
The sleep of pregnant women
In the third trimester, sleep is often disturbed. The minor ailments of pregnancy can bother you, back pain, acid reflux, baby movements, etc. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor, who will give you some postural advice on sleeping better while pregnant, including investing in a nursing pillow. You can also practice relaxation therapy or yoga to relax the body and mind.
Born in London, England and raised in Orlando, FL, Elena graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelors’ degree in Health Sciences. She later received her masters’ in Creative Writing from Drexel University. She writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and focuses mostly on health related issues.