Wednesday, December 4, 2013

10 Healthy Habits to Improve Your Sleeping

10 Healthy Habits to Improve Your Sleeping

1) Same Time, Same Place
Getting accustomed to a routine and sticking to it is a good start, said Chip Coffey, director of therapy services at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center in Phoenix. This means waking up at the same time, even on the weekends, and going to bed at the same time each night. “If you do have a weekend party to go to, have fun, enjoy and then as soon as you can, get back to your scheduled bedtime.”

2) Let bed be bed.
Limit, within reason, the activity in your bed. Read on your couch, work at your desk, eat at your table, and sleep in your bed. In order to train your brain to associate your bed with sleepytime, you don’t want to be living in it.

3) Exercise
Regular exercise can play a key role in ensuring a good night’s sleep. Coffey recommended exercising in the morning, if possible, rather than in the evening. “It is helpful to do yoga or stretching in the evening, however, avoid intense workouts.”

4) Limit caffeine.
Having any sort of caffeinated drinks after 12:00 noon could affect the way you settle once night falls.

5) Watch the Caffeine
Don’t worry, there’s no need to give up that morning cup of java you need to get up and moving. But pay attention to the second mid-morning cup at the office, and the third and fourth cups after lunch you use to fend off a food coma. “Many people are not aware of the amount of caffeine they consume, especially in the afternoon,” Coffey said. “Try not to drink caffeine after 4 p.m.”

6) Choose a wake-up time.
Set your alarm and train your body to wake up at the same time every day, regardless of the time you went to sleep. This promotes a healthy sleep-wake pattern, and helps set you on the path to more regular rest

7) Cat Nap
It’s OK to get some shut-eye during the day, but when it comes to naps, adopt a feline philosophy and keep it brief, Coffey advised. “Try to limit naps to 15 [or] 20 minutes and always mid-afternoon, not in the evening.”

8) Low-Key Evenings
Taking it slow in the hours before bedtime will allow your body and mind to wind down before your head hits the pillow. Avoid heavy, late meals and plan for activities that are not too stimulating. Coffey recommended reading a novel or magazine instead of work-related documents and reserving tasks like bill-paying or engaging in serious conversations for earlier in the day rather than right before bedtime.

9) Do the dark.
You’ll want to sleep with as little light as possible. Use curtains, or even an eyemask if you need to. A friend of mine also started using earplugs to drown out noise to help him fall asleep. Now, he swears by it.

10) Melatonin Boost
You can buy it at the pharmacy, but helping your body increase its natural melatonin level is an effective alternative. Sleep in a room that is void of all light, which can alter the normal production of melatonin, a prime component of a good night’s sleep, Robb said. On the flip side, getting an hour of sunlight during the day while you are awake causes a biochemical reaction that aids in the production of melatonin, he said.

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