Without sleep human organism cannot survive. Whilst most of us manage some sleep every night, the effects of poor sleep on the human body are cumulative and extremely damaging. There are several different ways to ensure what sleep experts call ‘good sleep hygiene’ which give you the best possibility to achieve a good night’s sleep.
Like babies, we sleep best if we have a routine at bedtime. Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time, when it is light, will ensure that your internal body clock knows what’s going on. Sleep on and off during the day and it will get confused. We are programmed to sleep when it’s dark, so help your brain keep on track by keeping your routine regular.
Research has shown that we sleep best when we are cooler. Whilst a thick duvet and central heating are comforting, they may be keeping us awake. The optimum temperature is between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Much above or below this can cause restlessness. The evidence is so strong that there are now ‘Polar Pillows’ manufactured in the US, which keep your head cool for a better night’s sleep! Even if you don’t normally sleep with the window open, try doing so for a week and see if it helps you sleep. Sleeping under a sheet with a duvet on top is a good idea too. If you get too hot in the night you can easily bring your temperature down whilst keeping covered, by kicking the duvet off.
No High Energy Activity Before Bed
It is sensible to start winding right down about an hour before you go to bed. Don’t play games, or interact with your computer or get involved in lively arguments just before bedtime. These all activities excite the neurons in your brain, stimulating it and waking it up. The cells then need to switch off again which can take some time. Relax, listen to music, or read. Baths make you sleepy too. As your body cools down after a bath you feel naturally sleepy. Light some candles while you bathe and sleep is almost guaranteed! All of these activities will see you heading for bed feeling sleepy, not switched on.
Make Sure You Are Comfortable
We all know that sleeping away from home can be a problem. The bed is too hard or soft, the pillows lumpy or squishy. For the best night’s sleep you need to be comfortable. Find the pillow that suits you and stick with it. Make sure it supports you head and neck well. How long is it since you had a new mattress? If the answer is more than ten years then it could be time for an investment. Good quality bedding is also an aid to sleep. Anything too high in synthetic material can make you uncomfortable. Make sure your curtains block out the light fully too.
Don’t struggle on in silence for too long if you have followed good sleep hygiene and still cannot sleep. Insomnia can become a serious and chronic condition. Sleep is just as important to our health as breathing, drinking and eating. Sleep enables our bodies to repair themselves and our brains to be able to process information. Poor sleep can be linked to many physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. So don’t let poor sleep keep you awake. Seek help.
This article was contributed by Lloyd, a freelance writer and blogger.
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