Sweet Dreams! 11 Ways to Boost the Quality of Your Sleep.

Last week I posted 10 Ways to Lose Weigh Fast! For the next few weeks, sleepI’ll be filling in the blanks by sharing ways to achieve each of those ten things. (If you haven’t read it yet, visit the post here.) Today I am going to focus on setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep.

Don’t have a problem falling asleep? You could be one of the people who fall asleep easily but toss and turn all night or are simply restless during the night without even being aware of it. If you don’t feel rested in the morning, you might want to try some of these suggestions for quality sleep.

  • Eliminate caffeine after noon. This doesn’t just mean coffee, but also soda, tea (black and green) and chocolate. Most herbal teas are caffeine free, but not all. Read the labels carefully. (If you drink soda, check the label. Caffeine isn’t just for colas.)
  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks/day and not any later than three hours before bed. Alcohol might help you to fall asleep, but later it will act as a stimulant causing you to wake or sleep fitfully.
  • Develop a consistent sleep/wake schedule. Even when you go to bed late, it’s smart to get up at the same time on most days. Losing sleep one night will force your body to consolidate sleep the following night … so get up and out already! (This one is HARD! Especially on a day when you don’t have to get up!)
  • If you’re having trouble getting quality sleep at night, skip the naps or make them less than twenty minutes and before 5PM. According to the Sleep Foundation, even short naps can interfere, so try to wean yourself away from any naps.
  • Set up a pattern of behavior that supports relaxation prior to going to bed. Before you start relaxing, make a list of what you need to accomplish the next day. Many people find that putting your next day’s agenda together before bed gets their heads clear and helps them relax and get to sleep. People report that once they started doing this they were able to fall asleep quicker and quit waking up worrying about tomorrow.
  • Next, turn off your electronics and the television. The light from those electronic devices stimulates our brains just as we are getting ready to try to shut them down. Instead, read a book or magazine under soft light (avoid thrillers or depressing newspapers) and enjoy a cup of herbal tea. Find whatever it is that takes you away from the stress of the day and add it into your relaxation routine.
  • Quit with the games! My favorite thing to do right before bed was to spend a half hour playing games on my phone. No more! Ever since I moved my iPhone to the other side of the room and turned it upside down my sleep has definitely improved. And, since I read on my iPad, I’ve started reading articles in magazines instead. It’s all helping.
  • Since it’s important to have an environment conducive to a good night’s sleep, we’re going to move into the bedroom. Make sure that your mattress and pillow are comfy and try to keep the room’s temperature between 60-72 degrees. Does your partner’s snoring wake you? Either find a solution to the snoring or buy yourself some earplugs.
  • Here comes the big one. Most couples I’ve worked with have differing opinions on light/dark and noise/quiet. The experts I found all agree that darkness, as dark as possible, and white noise (a fan, waves, raindrops) is best for quality sleep. Any light signals the brain that it’s daytime and humans are hard-wired to be awake during the daylight hours. Voices or music from a radio or television enter your subconscious and bring you to a level of wakefulness that definitely doesn’t equate to a good sleep.
  • Sleep experts also recommend that you quit eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. If you are hungry, keep it to something that won’t cause indigestion and/or acid reflux.
  • Do you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom? Help yourself out by making the effort to find a comfortable amount of liquids to drink after 8PM. It will vary for everyone, but play with it and see what works best for you.

So, turn off the electronics, quit guzzling liquids (especially caffeinated ones), turn off the television, close the black-out curtains and get a good night’s sleep!

For more info on quality sleep, visit www.sleepfoundation.org and/or http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/

Sweet Dreams,

Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
Simplifying Healthy Lifestyle Choices



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