How To Get Better SleepSep 11, 2023
Are you a sleep-deprived mama? Does your mind race when your head hits the pillow? Do you have trouble staying asleep all night?
We know that sleep allows our body and brain to restore and recharge. Quality sleep contributes to healthy brain function and better overall physical health, not to mention it often makes us more patient, happy individuals. Adequate shut-eye is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. We all lead busy lives, and sometimes it seems like we’re running on a hamster wheel unable to hop off. One day bleeds into the next, and just when we’re cozy in bed ready to rest, a baby cries. Or our mind races. Or a work message buzzes on our phones. And before we know it, our alarms go off and we’re required to face the day, often tired and frustrated.
If you’re looking for a few tips to help you get better quality sleep, check out the following ideas. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to sweet dreams…
Studies have found that proper exercise can alleviate sleep-related problems and help you get an adequate amount of rest. Experts at The Sleep Foundation believe sleep and exercise have a bidirectional relationship. Optimizing your exercise routine can potentially help you sleep better, and getting an adequate amount of sleep may promote healthier physical activity levels during the day. Moderate to vigorous exercise can increase sleep quality for adults by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and decrease the amount of time they lie awake in bed during the night. Additionally, physical activity can help alleviate daytime sleepiness, and for some people, reduce the need for sleep medications.
Maintain a Routine
We’ve heard it time and time again, but those late-night soccer practices or impromptu happy hours after work tend to interfere with our nightly routines. Our bodies are programmed to look for patterns, and our sleep-wake cycles are a critical part of how our body tells us how to behave. You don’t have to have the exact same ritual every night. What’s more important is the time of night you begin to wind down and the signals you deliver to your body that sleep is imminent. According to The Sleep Doctor, “Optimizing your sleep schedule to get the right amount of sleep comes with a wide range of benefits. Getting enough rest helps you get sick less often and maintain a healthy weight. Staying well-slept also puts you at a lower risk of chronic health issues like heart disease and diabetes.”
Ok, ok, don’t get so upset. We’re not saying you have to completely forego your morning cup of joe or even your indulgent Starbucks midday. What we are saying is that perhaps you could start to pay attention to the time of day you’re consuming caffeine. And remember, caffeine is in soft drinks, chocolate, and even many teas. There is solid evidence that caffeine later in the day can reduce your deep sleep by as much as one hour. So, even if you are the type of person who can drink coffee all day and go right to sleep, you may not be getting the same quality of sleep. It is a good idea to make late afternoons and evenings caffeine-free in order to contribute to better sleep hygiene.
Coffee AND alcohol? Well, yes. If you want to know how to get more deep sleep, then alcohol is something you should decline. If you like having a nightcap because it helps you sleep, think again. Yes, alcohol may help you drift off to sleep, but it affects the overall quality of your sleep, including your ability to reach that deep sleep state.
Drinking to help you sleep is a double-edged sword in another way, too. You build up a tolerance, so you’ll need more of it over time to get the same effects. What started as a single nightcap can progress into something more. Dr. Deirdre Conroy, a University of Michigan behavioral sleep expert, recommends avoiding it at least three hours before bed. "It's sedating at first, so it can help you fall asleep, but can interfere with staying asleep. And so to avoid that we generally use a three-hour guideline," she says.
Create the Right Environment
When you were in college you might have been able to pass out with the lights on, music blaring, and a Mountain Dew and pizza box by your side, but those days are long gone. Your bedroom should be a place with limited activity. It shouldn’t be where you eat, for example. You want your mind to associate this room with only sleep and maybe a few extracurricular activities. Make the room as sleep-friendly as possible. There should be no bright lights or loud noises to disrupt your sleep. Keep the room dark and cool in the evening to set the stage for going to bed. In the evening, put all your electronic devices away an hour before sleep. If you need background noise, try a machine that plays white or soothing sounds like rainfall. Your bed should be the focus of the room. This wasn’t a big deal in the past, but technology has changed how we do things, even sleep. (Source)
Check Your Medications
If you’ve tried everything, you might find that the medication you’re taking is the culprit. If you learn that is the case, talk with your doctor about a way to rectify this. You could take the medication at a different time for example. He may also suggest an herbal supplement like melatonin to put your body into a more relaxing state, ready for sleep. Finally, there is a wide variety of natural and medical interventions available to help you get the sleep you need. Consult with your doctor and make a mutual decision that is most beneficial for your mind and body.
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