Mon 30 Jan 2023
10 ways to sleep better
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Here's how to tap into your natural rhythm
In 2003, Dr. Howard Murad coined the term “Cultural Stress” - a phenomenon induced by the demands of modern-day living. It’s the unnecessary man-made stress we put on ourselves in an attempt to live up to everyone’s expectations.
Our hyper-connected, fast-paced society triggers a constant flood of damaging stress hormones, like cortisol, that fatigue our bodies and our minds. Cultural stress is also keeping us up at night, with roughly two-thirds of us complaining that sleep deprivation cuts into our life and wellbeing.
Particularly affected is our circadian rhythm, a 24-hour clock that runs in the background of the brain, cycling between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.
“Our body gets set to rest when the sun goes down, but our time-compressed schedules don’t align. Sleep is the first thing we sacrifice from our schedule as daytime responsibilities stretch well into the night,” says Dr Murad.
10 tips to sleep better
1. Build a regular pattern — Try to go to sleep and get up at around the same times, even on weekends. This helps to develop a solid sleep-wake rhythm and improves the quality of sleep.
2. Improve your sleep environment — Sleep in a calm, quiet, dark room. Try not to let light into the bedroom, and ban all light or noise emitting devices – that means no TV, no phones, and no radio. If you’re a light sleeper, use ear plugs to block out noises from the neighbours.
3. Keep work away from the bedroom — Try to keep your bedroom a place of escape. Put your alarm clock out of sight if you tend to constantly look at the clock.
4. Use light and dark to your advantage — Open the curtains immediately on rising and close the curtains before bedtime for subdued light. This helps set our biological clock.
5. Set the right temperature — A little fresh air in the bedroom (temperature 16-18 °c) will help your sleep. Use lavender oil on the wrists and pulse points to help you relax.
6. Your mattress and clothing matters — Ensure that you have a good quality mattress and a pillow that properly supports the cervical spine, and use sheets made with natural substances. Avoid tight clothing which constricts circulation.
7. Avoid sofa naps — Feel sleepy? Avoid catnaps on the sofa and just go to bed!
8. Consider your daytime activities — These strongly influence your sleep quality. Daily exercise in the morning or early afternoon improves sleep, but strenuous activities just before bedtime have the opposite effect.
9. Make time to wind down — Take 30 minutes before you go to bed to unwind. Avoid TV, computer games, surfing the internet or using social media; instead enjoy a warm bath, listen to relaxing music or take an evening stroll.
10. Eat a light snack before bedtime — This can encourage sleep, whereas both hunger and a full stomach can stop you nodding off. Avoid drinking large quantities of water before sleeping to stop bathroom visits disturbing your sleep.