Ahh, sleep! If only we could get enough sleep or better still, get by with less sleep!! We take coffee to stay awake and alcohol to fall asleep! Why do we have such a conflicted relationship with one of our most basic needs!! Lack of sleep can have effects as harmful as starvation and dehydration! Yet we take pride in “burning the midnight oil” and binge watching that latest show all night. Sleep helps build memory, improve concentration and metabolism. In other words, it keeps you productive, sharp and fit!! Now I’ll tell you how you can get top notch sleep without medicines or supplements! Let’s reveal the secret!
1) Turn off the lights:
Remember that you are supposed to live in caves. Nature probably didn’t realize we’ll control fire, let alone create electricity! Our bodies’ rhythm is set by the sun. Cave people worked all day, starting at the break of dawn and turned in soon after sunset. Now, humans stare at the sun way into the night! Before you start shaking your head saying you don’t do that, remember that your hard-wired brain can’t discern the sun from the bright screen of your TV or iPhone. It detects light and guess what? It thinks you’re working and far from ready to sleep! Even the slightest bit of light suppresses sleep so those of you who felt protected by lowering the brightness of your phone or turning the “night mode” on, I’m sorry but sweet sleep isn’t coming to your bed tonight.
2) Keep it cool:
Going back to the cave person analogy, think of what sleeping in a cave would have felt like-dark and cool! Keeping your bedroom cool, makes your brain think it’s time for bed!
3) Take a warm bath:
Keeping cool brings us to taking a warm bath. When we get out of a warm bath or shower, our body cools down and yes, yet again, is hardwired to think it’s bedtime!
4) Avoid Caffeinated Drinks After 5PM:
I know what you’re thinking- here goes another doc trashing my precious coffee! Not really, I’m not asking you to stop having coffee, just have it before 5PM. And that includes all caffeinated drinks. No new information here- drink coffee, can’t sleep, period.
5) Have a sleep routine:
Just like everything else, guess what, discipline pays off with sleep as well! Our body starts preparing for sleep when the same activities precede it over a period of time. Try reading, meditating or drinking chamomile tea
6) Avoid Excessive Alcohol:
Alcohol may seem like it’s improving your sleep in the short run but “rebound insomnia” and chronic sleeplessness follows soon after.
7) Your Bed is Meant to Sleep On:
Surprised to hear that? It’s true, although many of us spend hours reading, talking on the phone or watching videos while in bed, nothing else can confuse our bodies more. Needless to say, that confuses our bodies no end! Just think about it, when you are sitting on the can, do you have 10 different activities to choose from? I guessed not. Why confuse your body in bed? Bed is for sleep or for sex.
8) Tossing and turning? Get out of bed:
In line with not confusing your body, get out of bed if you aren’t able to sleep. Tossing and turning makes being in bed anxiety provoking, even traumatic, instead of the haven of relaxation it should be.
9) Avoid watching the clock:
Can you guess what one of the most effective ways of testing someone’s cognitive ability is? Clock drawing! Yes, it takes a significant amount of mental power to read the clock. So when you find yourself reading the clock in the middle of the night, you are forcing yourself of get wide awake. No wonder it takes a while for you to fall back asleep!
I hope you find the above tips helpful. Again, it will take a couple of weeks of perseverance for you to see the full effects of your hard work. Done the right way, these tips called “sleep hygiene” are more beneficial than medication!