How many times in the morning have you woken up in the morning, groggy and tired and you couldn’t figure out why that happened? The length of the sleep also didn’t matter then. Sleeping well and sleeping for a sufficient amount of time are both important to have a healthy morning and to keep in good shape.
These 7 tips for getting restful sleep are intended to address two specific issues. These are:
- How to sleep better at night, meaning getting restful sleep that makes you feel refreshed in the morning, and
- How to fall asleep quickly after putting the lights out and your head hitting the pillow.
These are not the same thing, although a lot of the advice you may find on this issue fails to distinguish between them. Our tips below address both of these issues, ‘restlessness’ and ‘restful sleep’. On the one hand you find it difficult to get to sleep, while on the other you sleep fine but wake up feeling tired.
1. Set Your Body Clock to a Regular Sleep Schedule
Following on from the above, you are more likely to find it easy to get to sleep if you set a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting out of bed at the same time each day will attune your body to a regular schedule.
Try to limit any weekend deviation from your weekday sleeping times to a minimum. You can’t complain about lack of good, refreshing sleep if you fail to train your body when to be ready for sleep.
2. Limit Naps
Many people like an afternoon nap, or may tend to fall asleep in front of the TV. Any sleep you have outside of your regular routine is going to count against you when you really should be sleeping.
If you feel like a nap during the day, stand up and wake yourself up – otherwise you can have no complaints if you find it difficult to sleep at night. If you feel you must have a nap, then have it as early in the day as possible.
3. Be Comfortable in Bed: Choose the Best Mattress
Most importantly of all, be comfortable in bed. Choose the best mattress for your needs. If you suffer back pain then these mattresses might suit you best. Alternatively, a cheap solution is to use a mattress topper for side slippers. If you are heavy, then make sure you choose a mattress with a good solid foundation. If you need to sleep in a certain position, then perhaps an adjustable foundation or frame would be best for you.
Some side-sleepers feel more comfortable with a pillow between their legs. Others may have other requirements. If you have a medical condition that is disturbing your sleep then check out the HealthySleep site, which is a collaboration between the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the WGBH Educational Foundation.
4. Cut the Lights: Including Curtains and Blinds
That means all the lights – the blue light you may have on your router, the light on your digital clock and stand-by lights on your TV or other devices. Do not use night lights. Some people cannot sleep without a light one- it may help you sleep, but it will interfere with the quality of that sleep. Total darkness is best.
Another issue is curtains and blinds. Many people sleep without closing curtains or blinds! That’s fine in winter, but in summer you will have light streaming through your window during a large part of the evening and also early in the morning when you should still be sleeping. Try to create an environment conducive to sleep: no bright or flashing lights, curtains closed and even earplugs if needed to isolate you from any noise.
5. Don’t Worry i.e. Stress Less
If you have worries that your mind may dwell on once you are in bed, these are almost sure to keep you awake. Discuss them with your partner if you have one, or write them down and decide what your actions will be next day.
Don’t lie in bed wondering how to deal with them! That may keep you awake all night. Deal with worries at work when you are in the workplace – your bed is not the place for this!
6. Limit Food, Drink and Smoking – Particularly Stimulants
Do not eat a meal before bedtime – that is likely to keep you awake. Don’t drink coffee or tea before bed – the caffeine in these drinks is a stimulant and will likely keep you awake. Even hot chocolate and cocoa contains caffeine, though slightly less. You would be better with a milky drink.
Milk contains calcium (calms the central nervous system) and lactose (can release endorphins that reduce stress) so milky drinks are best for a good night’s sleep. Milk also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that the brain uses as a precursor for serotonin which slows down the activity of certain nerves and helps you sleep.
Alcohol might make you sleepy to begin with, but will more than likely disturb your sleep during the night. Nicotine is also a stimulant, and if you smoke then have your last cigarette or cigar at least an hour before bedtime. Never wake during the night and have a smoke!
Another issue is drinking too much fluid before bedtime. Even a pint of water may be too much. The reason for this is that you are likely to waken up during the night for a toilet visit. You may then find it difficult to get back to sleep.
7. Exercise at Least 3 Hours Before Bedtime
Regular exercise will help you sleep better at night. Of all the tips for restful sleep, regular exercise and getting into a bedtime routine are among the most important. If you exercise just before bed, then your body will still have a rush and you will find it difficult to sleep.
The reason for that is cortisol, a stress hormone that exercise tends to produce. So, work out in the afternoon rather than in the evening.
Tips for Getting Restful Sleep: Summary
The above 7 tips for getting restful sleep should help you get to sleep quicker at night, and also make that sleep refreshing and get you ready for the day to come. Even just adopting one of these tips should help you get a better and more refreshing sleep.
They are all common-sense actions and sleeping habits to adopt, but never forget that your choice of mattress is the most important factor of all!