Most people know about the obvious steps they need to take to avoid a bad night’s sleep such as avoiding caffeine, making sure your bedroom is dark and quiet as well as letting go of the to-do list before bed. The problem is that you might still be tossing and turning throughout the night. Sleep specialists have found that there are many habits that you might have which could be sabotaging your sleep.
A lack of quality sleep can cause a lot of problems, but chronic, long-term sleep problems can increase the odds of diabetes, weight gain and cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, there are a number of tweaks that you can make which will help you get the sleep that you need.
Stop Your Afternoon Habits
Drinking coffee or tea just before bed is an obvious bad step if you want to get some good sleep. However, most people do not realize that they should be watching their afternoon drinks as well. Fruit teas have caffeine as do some sodas and flavored water. It is important that you check the labels of any drinks you have in the afternoon as any drink that boosts energy levels should be avoided.
If it is possible, you should stop having these drinks at 2 pm so there is enough time for their effects to wear off. Coffee-based drinks are generally the ones that have the largest amount of caffeine and you should avoid them after lunch.
Choose Sleep Superfoods
While you should be avoiding any heavy meals before bed as a full stomach will disrupt your sleep, there are some foods that can help you sleep. If you have a few nights of restless sleep, you should have a whole wheat pasta dish with vegetables and some chicken breast covered in tomato sauce. This meal has a sleep-friendly combination of carbohydrates and tryptophan which is an amino acid that turns into serotonin in the body.
If you have a grumbling stomach during the night, you should have a small bowl of cottage cheese with some banana slices. This is another dish that provides tryptophan. There are other combinations of protein and healthy carbohydrates that you can try such as graham crackers with milk or cereal in yogurt.
Sip Your Wine Sooner
A nightcap is known to help you relax and fall asleep, but it will make the second half of your sleep cycle restless. Alcohol is known to decrease deep sleep and will increase the number of times you wake up during the night. If you are going to have a glass of wine in the evening, you need to have it around 6 pm instead of 11 pm. You also need to ensure that you drink in moderation so that it wears off by the time you head to bed.
Take A Early Soak
There are a lot of people who like to unwind in the bath before they go to sleep. What these people do not realize is that a hot bath will actually make it harder for you to sleep. Raising your temperature just before bed will make it harder to fall asleep because your body needs to cool down to a certain temperature to reach deep sleep. Of course, this does not mean that you can never unwind in the tub, it simply means that you should not do this just before going to sleep.
Stretch Before You Sleep
Completing some gentle and restorative yoga just before bed can actually help you sleep as it eases the mind, steadies your breathing and reduces the tension in the muscles. This is all down without increasing your heart rate.
To prepare for sleep, you should lie on your back with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent. Place your arms by your side with the hand’s palms up. You need to keep your shoulders back and your chest open. You should then close your eyes, inhale through the nose, count to 4 then exhale and count back down to 1. This should be repeated for 10 minutes or for as long as it takes you to feel completely relaxed.
If you haven’t changed your mattress in a long time, then get started and do so. Mattresses have come a long way in recent years and you can get a mattress for side sleepers, back sleepers and even those that sleep on their fronts. It’s sure to help you get a better rest.
Set The Mood For Sleep
Having a dark room is a good start, but you need to bring the lighting down before bed as well. Bright light close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep. This is due to the fact that dim lighting signals the body that it is time to slow down. You should change the super bright bulbs in your room to low-watt ones or install a dimmer switch. If you like to read in bed, you need to do this in the lowest lighting that is comfortable.
Ban Your Phone
Do you need to send that last email before you officially turn in for the night? You need to stop doing this as typing in bed can energize you and make it harder to fall asleep. You should ban your phone from your bedroom as even the vibrations of the phone notifications can disturb your sleep as you are cued to respond to them.
It is recommended that you disconnect around an hour before bed. You should turn your phone off and place any gadgets out of reach. You should also invest in a real alarm clock instead of relying on your phone.