Go to bed naked, eat bananas: 20 surprising ways to get a better night`s Sleep17:28
With the increase of everyday distractions, hectic lifestyles and easy-to-access stimulus such as phones and television, getting some decent shut-eye can be more troublesome than expected.
But it turns out that there are certain practices and habits that can be employed that can not only help you nod off quicker, but can actually improve the quality of your slumber.
1. SLEEP NAKED
As well heating you up too much, pyjamas can also be a distraction with tangled drawstrings, bunched-up bottoms and constrictive t-shirts. Ever heard of beauty sleep? Maintaining a cool body temperature allows anti-ageing hormone Melatonin to do its work - so shed those layers.
2. STOP SMOKING
While many people think that smoking before bed will help them to relax, in actual fact, puffing on a cigarette will do the opposite. The nicotine increases your heart rate and keeps the brain alert, which can be troublesome when you're aiming for an early night.
3. EAT A BANANA
The yellow fruit is a great natural source of sleep hormone, melatonin as well as amino acid tryptophan - which are all conducive in helping you reach the land of snooze. So munch away.
4. SWITCH OFF
Many people are guilty of checking their social media feeds right before bed, but the artificial light from TVs, phones and tablets act as a stimulant that disrupts the body's internal clock. So avoid at all costs especially when the lights are out.
5. HOT MILK
Yes, it may only seem like an old wives' tale, but drinking a glass of the warm stuff can actually help you drop off quicker. Dairy products are rich in sleep-inducing amino acid, tryptophan, and can contribute to the production of snooze chemicals, serotonin and melatonin.
6. TURN THE CLOCK AROUND
Another exercise that many are guilty of is watching the minute hand tick when struggling to get to sleep. We can't help but calculate how many hours we have left of sleep, which can heighten anxiety and make you less able to relax. Hide the alarm clock for a more effortless slumber.
7. TAKE A BATH
Body temperature naturally dips at night, so soaking in a hot tub and raising your temperature, followed by getting out and experiencing a rapid cool-down can automatically make you feel more sleepy come bedtime.
8. ESTABLISH A SLEEP ROUTINE
Setting bedtime routines and repeating them every night can help your body realise sleep is imminent, and will add to the drowsy factor. Activities such as laying out your pyjamas, making your lunch for the next day and even brushing your teeth can become sleep-conducive once they are incorporated into a routine.
9. NO CAFFEINE AFTER 2PM
Many people depend on coffee for that late afternoon pick-up, but it turns out that the caffeine content can be detrimental for getting shut eye later on. Caffeine stays in the body for eight hours, so avoid after 2pm, otherwise your brain will be prevented from entering deep sleep or even falling asleep all together.
10. STAY COOL
While many people will pile on the layers in the hopes that this warms them up and produces a deeper level of relaxation, being too hot can actually keep you awake. Slipping in between cool, fresh sheets can help trigger a drop in your temperature. This coolness signals for the body to produce melatonin, the hormone which induces sleep.
11. SPRAY SOME LAVENDER
The aroma of lavender has been proven to slow heart rates and blood pressure and it also has a relaxing effect. Sprinkle a few droplets on your pillow case or even in a hot bath before bed.
12. SET A SCHEDULE
Programme your body to sleep better by getting up at the same time every day and going to sleep at the same time everyday. This way your body is conditioned to feel more alert when you're ready to wake up, and more sleepy when you're ready to hit the hay.
13. BLOCK OUT THE NOISE
Whether its a snoring house mate or partying neighbours, loud noise is a distraction that can stop you from nodding off in the first place. If you live and sleep in noisy conditions, invest in a good pair of earplugs to ensure you don't wake up exhausted and cranky.
14. BLOCK OUT THE LIGHT
When the sun goes down and your body is submerged in darkness, it automatically starts producing sleep hormone, melatonin, which means your body feels less alert and sleep is more inviting.
Help your body with this process by investing in blackout curtains and switching off all power sources when going to bed. Invest in an eye-mask if necessary.
15. BREATHE DEEPLY
A big obstacle in being able to get some shut-eye is attempting to quieten down the mind. If this is a problem, observe breathing exercises, which not only calms down the nervous system and slows your heart rate, but also helps focus the mind on something else.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise has proved very conducive in aiding sleep:
16. CHECK YOUR MATTRESS
Contrary to popular belief, a person's mattress type should depend on their needs: e.g. whether you have a problematic back or need something firmer or softer. Definitely replace your mattress every eight years in order to avoid lumpy and jutting springs, which can make going to bed an uncomfortable experience. Always ensure to do a 15-minute test in the store, which gives you a sufficient amount of time to test its comfort, and trial it on your stomach and your back.
17. CUT OUT BOOZE
Forget that cheeky nightcap, studies have revealed that although alcohol can help you fall asleep more quickly and more deeply for a while, it is more disruptive to your sleep cycle in the later part of the night. The consumption of alcohol can also cause pauses in your breathing, which can wake you up and keep you awake.
18. WRITE DOWN YOUR WORRIES
One major problem that stops us from nodding off is dwelling on certain things and playing back various scenarios in our heads. This anxiety can up our levels of stress and stop us from slumbering away. Writing down five of your worries before bed every night can help alleviate some of the pressure and help get some of the anxiety off your chest.
Working out can help relieve stress and muscle tension, and even improve your mood - all helpful factors to improve relaxation. The best time to exercise is between 4-7pm, but ensure that it's not within four hours of your bedtime, as your body temperature and adrenaline levels will be too high to nod off.
20. LIMIT THE BED TO SLEEP AND SEX
Avoid shuffling paperwork or watching TV in bed. By reserving the bed for only sleep and sex, this conditions people to associate the sight and feel of their bed with sleep and relaxation more than anything else.