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16 Tips for Better Sleep
There are many symptoms associated with lack of quality sleep. A few come to mind:
Lack of concentration, looking tired, feeling tired, mood swings, even depression.
'Lots of Sleep' does not mean 'Quality Sleep'
A good night's rest means that you get one chunk of solid sleep without being woken up, 'partially woken up', or even noticing any sounds while you're in a dream state.
Here are some tips to get quality sleep, and also to help you fall asleep:
1. Get Things Off Your Mind
A lot of times it's hard to fall asleep in the first place, because your mind is running in circles. It's either something that is worrying you, or maybe you're just excited about an idea and you can't stop thinking about it. Hours pass by and you're left just laying there staring at the clock.
If you're worried about something, try getting it off your chest by discussing it with someone. Sometimes a simple phone conversation with a friend can be comforting enough to ease your mind..
If you find that your mind is running in circles over the same topics, there is a simple solution to this: Get out of bed and write the ideas down on paper. Doing this helps you achieve peace of mind. Your brain will calm down when it realizes that everything you have thought of has already been organized and accounted for, and doesn't need to be reviewed over and over again in your head.
2. Eliminate Noise and TV
Make sure your room is as quiet as possible. This especially means no television. Many people rely on television to put them to sleep, but this severely affects the actual quality of sleep you are getting. The TV pollutes your mind with its babble while your brain is in the early stages of sleep. This ends up happening throughout the night and greatly interferes with your quality of sleep. The same thing applies to music as well.
If there are disruptive sounds coming from outside your window (such as skateboards or kids yelling), be sure to keep your window closed. You could always ventilate the room before you go to bed and close it just before you decide to sleep.
If you could still hear disruptive noises, such as noisy family members, try using ear plugs. A last resort would be to use a fan that will diffuse the disruptive sounds coming from outside your door or window.
The ideal setting for quality sleep is a perfectly dark room. Other than your alarm clock, try and seal up any possible sources of light coming from outside the room. Sometimes it's even a good idea to cover up the alarm clock or angle it away from yourself as you sleep.
4. Be Careful With Naps
Napping is not a bad thing, but it could greatly interfere with your ability to fall asleep and also the quality of sleep. Although everyone is different, you generally don't want to nap if the afternoon has already passed. Also, your nap should never be more than an hour long. The shorter the nap, the better. If you're dying each day for an afternoon nap, at least be sure to set your alarm clock so that you don't oversleep.
5. Don't Eat Before Bed
We already know that eating makes us feel sleepy right away, but it doesn't help the actual quality of sleep. Your body does not need to be digesting food while it's supposed to be resting, and it also does not need the extra rise in blood sugar while sleeping either. You should have had dinner at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Sometimes a very light snack, such as half a banana or a warm glass of milk is acceptable before bed, but only eat something if your stomach is empty and growling.
6. Avoid Exhaustive Physical or Mental Activity Before Sleep
It's common to be in front of the television or computer before bed time. However, the glow of the television or monitor before bedtime will affect your quality of sleep, as will the images which have been imprinted on your mind.
If you're gonna read a book to help you sleep, the more boring the better. You really don't want to stimulate your mind too much before trying to fall asleep.
Try taking taking 30 minutes or an hour to let your brain relax before bed time.
The same goes for physical activity. It's better to allow the body to relax before going to sleep.
7. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Smoking
Booze may help you fall asleep, but it's not going to improve the quality of your sleep. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes, especially before bed time. Cut the amount of caffeine you consume during the daytime as well, since it has a lingering effect.
8. Regular Exercise
People who get regular exercise sleep better, it's as simple as that. Cardio is best, but all exercise helps.
9. Avoid Too Much Water
If you drink too much water before going to bed, you're probably going to be waking up to use the bathroom. Make sure to empty yourself beforehand.
10. Sleep Supplements
As mentioned earlier, a half banana (potassium) or glass of warm milk (calcium, magnesium) can be comforting and help you relax. Some also recommend chamomile tea, melatonin, or St. John's Wort.
11. Put Your Pets in Another Room
Sleeping with a snoring spouse could be pretty bad, but a lot of people sleep with animals in their room and don't realize how disruptive they really are to your sleep.
12. Meditation and Breathing Exercises
Simple, repetitive exercises (like counting backwards from a million) can bore the mind into falling asleep. There are many different meditation exercises that can be found online if you are interested in learning more about this.
A simple suggestion would be to try and take very deep breaths. With each passing breath, try and take a little bit longer to exhale than to inhale. This helps oxygenate your system and achieve a state of relaxation.
Getting a massage is a great way to help you relax. If you've got nobody to give you one, you could consider buying yourself some kind of massage device or chair. You get what you pay for, and it's well worth the money.
14. Hot Baths
A hot bath could help you relax, but be sure not to overdo it. You'll have to test and find out how hot, and how long of a bath will relax you without overdoing it. Getting your head wet in the shower is more likely to wake you up than to help you fall asleep.
15. Good Ventilation and Temperature
Make sure your room is well ventilated. You can close your window when you sleep, but make sure you've had a chance to leave it open some time during the day or evening so there is plenty of oxygen in the room.
Find out what temperature is the most comfortable for your sleep time and try to keep it there.
16. Comfy Mattress
Whether soft or hard, if your mattress is not extremely comfortable, just get yourself new one. It's as simple as that. You spend enough time in your bed to justify having the best mattress you could afford. Don't forget to rotate the mattress every once in a while either.
We all require different amounts of sleep per day to function our best. This is something you'll have to learn through trial and error.
Whatever that amount of sleep is, or whatever time works best for you, the key is to try and stick to a consistent sleep pattern.
On another note, I will say that it's not natural to be a night owl. Humans naturally sleep at night and are awake durin
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