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Why can’t I sleep? The Art of a Perfect Night’s Sleep

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Do you lie in bed, eyes wide open, listening to the tick tock of the clock in the middle of the night because you can’t fall asleep? Or, do you ever find yourself in bed with a thousand things running through your mind, that you just can’t sleep? We all know how important sleep is. Yet there are so many of us who just don’t get enough of it.

Here are some things you can do to get that perfect night’s sleep.  We’re sure you may have heard some of them, but make tonight the night that you take action.

Red and blue light from computer screen

Honestly, what are you doing in bed before you turn the lights out? Checking Facebook or Instagram? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one!

But did you know we all have a circadian rhythm – a 24-hour internal clock that moves between alertness and sleepiness. And that in particular, the blue light coming from our devices affects this rhythm. Studies show those who read before bedtime, on devices that were lit, took longer to fall asleep, had shorter periods of deep sleep, and had difficulties waking up in the morning.

Tip: But don’t fear, there are many apps you can download to remove the blue light.

Make your room really dark

Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies, helps control our sleep cycles. Normally, levels of melatonin increase in the evenings and increase throughout the night. Levels then begin to drop in the early hours of the morning. Melatonin is like Dracula…it only comes out in the night!

So how does the body know how much melatonin to produce? Through how much light you are exposed to. When the body is exposed to the light in the morning, your brain begins to slow the production of melatonin and produce more stimulating hormones like cortisol, and increase body temperature.

Tip: With this in mind, if you can:

  • get as much exposure to sunlight in the morning as you can. You’ll feel more awake and alert.
  • Get as much daylight as you can throughout the day.
  • Hours leading up to your bedtime, reduce the amount of light you’re using. Instead use dimmers or lamps. When you go to sleep, make sure the curtains are closed or use a night mask.
  • If you wake during the night, use the least amount of light as possible.

Set a schedule

This can be hard to stick to, especially when we’re out late on a Friday or Saturday night and want a Sunday morning sleep in. Go to sleep and wake up the same time every day. Sticking to this schedule will allow your body to get into a rhythm which will optimise the quality of your sleep.

Tip:

  • Go to bed when you naturally feel tired and try to wake up naturally without an alarm.
  • If you’ve had a late night and are in need of some extra sleep, try not to sleep in but rather take a nap during the day. This means you won’t affect your natural sleep/wake body clock.

Establish a sleep ritual

Let’s face it, our lives are crazy busy. From the moment we wake up, our minds are on the go. Stress and worry from the day can leave you restless and unable to sleep.

When you create a routine, your body soon recognises that it’s time to sleep. It can also help to calm a busy mind.

Tip: Here are some ideas on what you may like to include in your bedtime routine:

  • Switch off your electronic device an hour before going to sleep;
  • Read a book. Preferably some light reading. Nothing too stimulating.
  • Do some relaxation exercises
  • Keep a notepad beside the bed and jot down everything on your mind before you sleep.
  • Listen to some relaxing music
  • Take a warm bath.

Make sure your bed is comfy

This one goes without saying. How can you sleep without being comfortable? Make sure your mattress provides good support and why not indulge yourself in a bit of luxury with high quality, soft sheets. Click here to see some great options. 

Exercise during the day

Exercise has been known to improve the quality of your sleep. Exercise requires you to expend large amounts of energy, which makes you feel more tired and ready to rest by the end of the evening. This means you’ll spend more time in a deep sleep and feel less sleepy throughout the day.

Exercise can also help reduce stress and anxiety – often major contributors to poor sleep.

It can take a few months to experience the sleep benefits of exercise, so be patient and keep going.

Adults between the age of 18 – 64 should be doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise throughout the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. Are you getting enough exercise?

Diet

Try to limit the amount of caffeine you consume, particularly in the evenings. Caffeine can cause sleep problems even after 10 hours since your last sip.  Try not to reach for that coffee cup to wake you up in the morning. You could end up in a vicious cycle. The more tired you are, the more caffeine you want to consume to stay awake, however, the more caffeine you consume, the harder it may be to fall asleep. And remember, caffeine can be found in many things like chocolate and teas. So, make sure to check the label.

Avoid alcohol before going to sleep. It interferes with your sleep cycle.

Avoid drinking water before going to sleep. This will stop you from waking up to use the bathroom throughout the night.

Nicotine is a stimulant. Try not to smoke a few hours before your go to sleep, or better yet, stop smoking.

Be careful of spicy and acidic food. They can cause heartburn and stomach discomfort.

Want a perfect night’s sleep? Try these out. Let us know what you put into action and how well it worked for you.

Sweet dreams.


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