Over the years, we’ve seen a change in the recommended minimum number of sleep hours a body needs. Where once it was suggested a full 8 hours was necessary, we now recognize that every person is different and our needs may change from time to time.
Regardless of the actual number, there is strong evidence that shows that a shortened or disturbed sleep process can compromise one’s mood, alertness and performance. If you’re having problems sleeping, try these six tips for a deep, rejuvenating sleep.
1. Schedule your day to allow for “downtime” before bedtime. In other words, don’t stay busy right up until it’s time for lights out. Give yourself a chance to relax for at least an hour before you go to bed. This means turning off the television and listening to soothing music instead. It may include taking a luxurious warm bath to ease the tension in your muscles, reading a book or simply doing some deep breathing exercises.
2. Eat earlier in the evening. Some people are so busy they don’t get to eat until right before bed. When you eat so late, it makes it difficult for the body to begin digesting the food before its time to sleep. If possible, try to avoid eating anything at least three hours before you plan to go to bed. Avoiding caffeine, chocolate, pork, potatoes, tomatoes and cheese is also a good idea since these foods inhibit the production of the chemicals which help you sleep.
3. Make sure your sleeping environment is peaceful, quiet and dark. Even if you feel that you’re tired enough you could fall asleep standing in a corner, it is a good idea to make your bedroom someplace that is relaxing and quiet. Lower your shade and pull your curtains to so no outside light keeps you awake. Playing soft music or nature sounds can also be helpful in reaching deep, restful sleep.
4. Add sleep-inducing herbs to your nightly routine. Passion flower, chamomile, lemon balm and valerian are common herbs that will calm and relax you so you can fall asleep. These can be enjoyed as a hot cup of tea each night before you go to bed or you can take them as capsules, whichever you prefer.
5. Plan to exercise each day. Being active each day really does help you sleep at night. Of course, it’s important not to exercise too close to bedtime, but exercising earlier in the day can do wonders for healthy sleep.
6. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. Your body has its own rhythm – circadian rhythm or internal clock – so having a set time to go to bed and get up each day will help set this internal clock.
It is possible to get deep, rejuvenating sleep each night. You can use any or all of these tips to help you achieve peaceful sleep. However, if you work with your body to give it the rest you need, and you’ll find sleep problems are soon a thing of the past.