Get that good sleep! Tips to improve the quality of your sleep
Always good to have a sleep routine
1. The single most important thing you will need is a good bed. In my opinion a great bed and mattress are well worth the amount of money they cost. Think about how much time you spend in that bed over the next 10-20 years. A very worthwhile investment.
2. Create a good sleep environment. Keep the noise level down as low as possible, as dark as possible, and keep your room a little bit cool (to my wife this means 87 degrees, for me it is 48 degrees). The research shows around 68 degrees is optimal.
3. Get a routine. You know the basketball players that dribble twice, kiss their cross medallion, wipe the sweat off their forehead, do 4 clap jacks, and then shoot a free throw? No? Okay, just know that you need a routine to help you wind down and relax before you go to sleep. This can be reading, listening to soft music, taking a bath. Just find something you do every night that will be your body's signal to shut it down for the night.
4. What about when you have to get up in the middle of the night? The number one thing is to relax. If you have been trying for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed and do some sort of light activity (eat a light snack, drink a glass of milk, read) with the lights dimmed. If your mind starts working a hundred miles per hour on things you need to do, keep a notepad next to your bed and write down the things on your mind. All of these are to take your mind off things and not be so frustrated at yourself for being awake.
5. Stay away from pills! They are the absolute last resort. There are times when you need them, but research has shown that using a good sleep routine is more effective than pills.
6. Some foods that can mess with your sleepy time:
* Too much food, especially fatty, rich food. These take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Spicy or acidic foods in the evening can cause stomach trouble and heartburn.
* Too much liquid. Drinking lots of fluid may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
* Alcohol. Many people think that a nightcap before bed will help them sleep. While it may make you fall asleep faster, alcohol reduces your sleep quality, waking you up later in the night. To avoid this effect, stay away from alcohol in the hours before bed.
* Caffeine. You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake.
* Smoking. Smoking causes sleep troubles in numerous ways. Nicotine is a stimulant, which disrupts sleep. Additionally, smokers actually experience nicotine withdrawal as the night progresses, making it hard to sleep.
7. And of course, the best thing you can do is exercise! I spent 8 hours on Saturday getting certified to teach group TRX classes. The majority of that class was spent exercising. I slept like a champ Saturday night.
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