Everyone can appreciate the benefits of a good night’s sleep. You feel refreshed, you feel like your senses are heightened, you feel energetic and you feel focused.
A good night’s sleep implies good quality sleep. All of us have had those nights where we are in a ‘light’ sleep. Constantly waking up, tossing and turning and in the morning we feel like we haven’t slept at all.
Good quality sleep as defined by the National Sleep Foundation in America includes:
- Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Waking up no more than once per night; and
- Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
How can we achieve good quality sleep?
None of us are taught how to sleep, many of us have picked up bad habits throughout life which have not been beneficial to getting quality sleep. Good quality sleep starts with adopting good sleep habits.
Stay on schedule
Adopting a pattern of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is extremely beneficial. Don’t use weekends as a time to drastically change up your sleep schedule. This can affect the body’s internal clock.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants
Especially in the late evening. These can prevent you from falling asleep but also cause you to wake up more frequently during the night. Another substance to avoid is alcohol. It can cause you to wake up frequently during the night.
Create a bedtime ritual
Your body is so amazing. There’s a reason why most mothers know that a bath before bedtime for the little ones and a story on a consistent basis will ensure them drifting off quickly. It is because these activities act as clues to the body to prepare for sleep. Now I don’t think we as adults expect a bedtime story. Engaging in a ritual such as running a hot bath, brushing our teeth, putting on our pyjamas, are all pre-sleep ritual clues to let your body know to begin powering down.
Avoid falling asleep in front the television or computer
You may have to wake up to turn them off, causing you to interrupt your sleep. The bright lights from the computer or TV screen may also signal to your brain it is time to wake up.
Maintain a healthy diet
Eating large salty and fatty meals before bed will not help you to sleep better. Neither will falling asleep feeling hungry. Limit food before bed to smaller portions.
I’ve tried to adopt if not most but some of the habits above. I also like to have a cup of herbal tea before I go to bed. Camomile, lavender and valerian root all have properties which promote sleep.
What are your pre-sleep rituals?