Just a few key sleep tips can really improve our quality of life, yet we never get enough. Why is that? Typical reasons include stress, body aches/pains and other health issues, or we’re just squeezing too many waking hours out of our day. We treat it like an unbalanced bank account, withdrawing an hour here and there but never making enough deposits!
Sleep Tips – A Body Needs Time to Recover
Sleep is one of the most effective means for our bodies to recuperate, and for that reason it becomes even more important as we get older. Sleep affects our mood, memory, alertness and productivity each day, not to mention our immune system and overall health. Some tips for getting a better quality and quantity of sleep each night (7-8 hours are best):
- Make sleep a priority each night – don’t skimp and think that you’ll make up for it later in the week (you won’t).
- Go to bed and get up at the same times each day – our bodies keep a clock and don’t like irregular schedules.
- Make your bedroom your comfort zone, reserved for sleeping (and sex) only; no computers, televisions, or any other electronic distractions with blinking lights. Further, make sure it’s the room with the coolest temperature in the house.
- Finish eating, exercising, and any other tasks at least two hours or more before bedtime – a body needs time to wind down. Be sure to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking during these same hours.
- If you regularly have difficulty falling asleep, use a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading, listening to soft music, or soaking in a hot bath.
- Make certain your mattress is right for you whether or not you sleep with a partner, that it’s big enough (a “full” size bed is an oxymoron for two people – each person has a space no wider than a crib), clean enough, and still provides the correct degree of firmness to keep your spine properly aligned. Also check your pillow for proper firmness to keep your neck aligned with your spine.
- If you can’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, get up to do something relaxing until you feel drowsy.
- Let go of your mental stress list by writing them down before bedtime.
- Consult your doctor before taking any type of sleep medication, including over-the-counter products. Doing so could mask a physical or psychological aliment that is best treated by other means.
Perhaps the most important tip of all is to avoid this old cliche - "Why don't you sleep on it tonight and we'll talk about it in the morning..." No, the only thing we should be sleeping on is the right mattress and pillow as noted above - the rest can wait until after we've had a good night of sleep!