Getting enough sleep is essential for keeping our minds fresh and alert, and is needed for growth and tissue repair after exercise.
Not enough sleep can cause a number of physical and mental problems and can actually make you quite ill.
You should be aiming for the optimal 8 hours sleep a night if possible.
Unfortunately ‘life’ often gets in the way of a regular routine and your sleep can suffer as a result.
Anything from depression, stress, pain, sickness or just an active mind, can all lead to a lack of quality sleep.
If a night of tossing and turning is causing you concerns, try incorporating the following tips that will help you to sleep like a baby:
1. Keep your bedroom exclusively for sleeping.. and sex
Don’t turn your bedroom into an office and don’t watch T.V. in bed.
If you do so, your brain becomes over stimulated and you’ll find it difficult to drop off.
You need to create an atmosphere of relaxation and associate your bedroom with rest and sleep, and of course sex.
2. Stick to a regular bedtime routine
As much as possible try and go to bed and wake up the same time every day.
Indulging in weekend late nights and long lay-ins will only make sleeping more difficult during the week.
3. Leave out the night-cap
Although a wee tipple before bed time is often recommended to help you fall asleep, alcohol will cause you to sleep lighter than usual, and you will more likely wake up during the night.
4. Work out earlier
Regular exercise will help lower your stress levels and help you to relax.
This in turn will help you to sleep better.
The earlier you work out, the more time you give your body to benefit from the stress-busting endorphins exercise provide.
It also takes time to come down from the natural, post work-out high, when you are fully alert with increased blood flow and more adrenalin pumping round your system.
Give yourself at least 3 hours before bedtime.
5. Avoid eating large and/or spicy meals before bedtime
Your body needs at least 2 to 3 hours to digest a large meal.
Going to bed on a full stomach will increase pressure on the bladder and can lead to indigestion, keeping you for a good nights sleep.
6. Avoid drinking late night caffeine or other stimulants
Anything from tea and coffee to cigarettes and even chocolate can play havoc with your sleep.
An over stimulated mind will take a while to come down and fully relax.
7. The darker the better
We all respond to our inner body clock, known as ‘circadian rhythms’ where we live by the day and night cycle of the earths rotation.
We are programmed to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light.
Light can get through the eyelids and stimulate your inner clock to awaken you.
So block out all sources of light from your bedroom – including LED clocks and other bright displays.
Invest in some good quality, thick, dark curtains or sleep with an eye mask.
An eye mask is especially useful when travelling or away from home. T
They work a treat once you get used to them.
8. Sort your bed out
Men are the worse for having a bedroom that’s messy and slightly on the smelly side.
It’s no wonder we want to spend more time round our girlfriend’s house than our own.
Ladies create a bed and bedroom space that oozes relaxation and tranquillity.
Fresh, crisp bed linen, scented candles for a pleasant aroma and low lighting, all create a place of sanctuary for a good nights sleep.
Just having a clean, tidy and fresh smelling bed, will help you sleep better.
9. Take a chill pill
Two hours or so before bedtime should be spent winding down.
Try relaxing with your favourite, decaffeinated hot drink.
Read a fiction book.
Listen to some chill-out, or classical music.
Take a warm bath or write in your journal.
All these activities will relax you after a busy day and inform the brain that it’s time to slow down and prepare for a good nights sleep.
10. Take sleep seriously
Getting enough sleep is essential.
You simply cannot perform to your best ability unless you have a good quality sleep.
Try and aim for 8 hours sleep each night.
According to professor Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, even just an extra 30 minutes a night will make a big difference to how you feel.
By following these common sense strategies you will give yourself the best possible chance of getting the maximum number of hours sleep a night.