Five Ways to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Dr. Purushothaman
March 12, 2016

Restful sleep is just as important to our survival as food, water, and air. During the night, our bodies and minds rest and recharge so that we can be at our most productive during the rest of the day. Teenagers and adults usually need between eight and ten hours of sleep each night. How much sleep you need depends on your age and other factors. On average, most people of all ages are getting much less than this amount of sleep. This is because their schedules are getting busier and they often use devices with backlights, like smart phones, tablets, and computers. So how can you make sure that the sleep you DO get is restful and helps you feel better? Here are five tips that you should try, no matter your age or situation:
Make the bedroom a place where you can be alone.
You've probably heard this before, and you'll hear it again and again from all kinds of experts: gadgets like TVs, computers, and smart phones make it hard to sleep well. If you must have them in the bedroom, turn them off at least an hour before bed. Blue light from backlit screens makes it take longer to fall asleep, so it's important to avoid screens right before bed. If you are responsible enough to not bring your cell phone into your bedroom, use a regular alarm clock to wake you up. If you try to use your devices less before bed for a couple of weeks, you will notice a difference in how well you sleep. It's also important to make the bedroom a calm place by keeping it clean and free of clutter. When you can, choose light colours for paint and decorations because they calm the mind and make it easier to rest and unwind.
Set up a routine for winding down
Giving your mind and body time to wind down from a busy day is a great way to get ready for a good night's sleep. Turning off your devices for the day might be a good way to start getting ready for bed. A warm shower, some gentle yoga or meditation, reading or writing in a journal, and aromatherapy with a calming essential oil or scented candle of your choice could all be part of this routine. Adjust your routine to what works best for you, but try to keep the same order of things every night. This will help your brain get into "sleep mode" even before you go to bed.
Get in sync with natural circadian rhythms
Our bodies are naturally set up to go to sleep at night and wake up during the day. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark to help you sleep better. If you need to block out outside light, use dark curtains or an eye mask that is light and easy to wear. In the same way, as soon as you wake up, get as much natural light as you can. You can also turn on the lights inside to wake your brain up quickly.
Mind what you eat and drink
What you eat and drink before bed has a big effect on how well you sleep. Make sure you eat at least two or three hours before bed so your stomach has time to digest the food. In their book Smart Cookies Don't Get Stale, dietitians Catherine Christie and Susan Mitchell suggest eating high-carb snacks that make you feel warm and sleepy right before bed. Cereal, fresh or dried fruit, fruit juice, or toast with jam are some examples. Herbal teas are also great for getting a good night's sleep. Try a cup of chamomile or lavender tea to calm down before bed.
Get help from a professional
If you can't sleep no matter what you do, you should see a doctor or therapist to figure out what's wrong with your body or mind. Some medicines and long-term stress or worry can make it hard to sleep. Long-term sleep problems and lack of sleep can lead to many more serious issues, so it's important to take care of any problems and set up healthy sleep patterns for a balanced and happy life.
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