A 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll found that more than 39 percent of people above age 30 have problems falling asleep or sleeping well at night. While good sleep has a lot of positive and healthy benefits to the human body, including the brain, sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces by making it difficult for your body to fend off invaders. In this article, we’ll be sharing with you 10 simple tricks to help you get to sleep fast and stay asleep during the night!
#1. Be Careful About Your Choice of Dinner
Several studies have proven that a high carbohydrate diet can result in poor night sleep. This is because a high carb diet, unlike low carb/high fat diet, takes a longer time to digest. Scientific studies revealed that a high-carb/low-fat diet significantly decreased the quality of sleep compared to a low-carb/high-fat diet with the same amount of calories for both diets. So, if you are going to have a high carb diet for dinner, you should probably consider taking it at least, four hours before bedtime.
#2. Lower Your Room Temperature
Your room temperature, as well as your body temperature are 2 important factors when it comes to sleeping. If your room temperature is too hot, falling asleep might be a challenge. So, try reducing the temperature of your room to about 15–23°C, which is just the right temperature to slow down the heart rate, digestion and help you fall asleep faster. This is also confirmed by Lisa Meltzer, an education scholar for the National Sleep Foundation: “The secret to good sleep is cool, dark, comfortable bedrooms.”
#3. Take A Warm Shower Before Bedtime
Do you know that taking a warm bath and entering into a cool room will slow down your metabolism and contribute to falling asleep faster? Research shows that insomniac have a higher body temperature before bedtime, which in most cases is responsible for difficulty in falling asleep experienced by insomniacs, so a warm shower can make a big difference in your sleeping habit.
#4. Avoid Taking Naps During the Day
After a night of poor sleep, it’s only natural and understandable to feel sleepy at some point in the day, especially for people with insomnia. And while short duration naps (say 1-2 hours) have been linked with our wellbeing and alertness during the day, it could also be responsible for a poor night sleep. New sleep studies reported that frequent napping can be associated with impaired sleep hygiene, depressive symptoms, physical activity deficits, functional impairment, and excess weight. To avoid sleep deprivation, try eliminating naps. However, if you must take a nap, stick to short duration naps (say 30 minutes) so that it doesn’t interfere with your normal sleep-wake cycle and be sure to do that in the early hours of the day.
#5. Turn Down the Lights Before Bedtime
Light suppresses the body’s production of melatonin-the sleep hormone. So, the less light you expose yourself to before bedtime, the easier it is to sleep. Experts advise dimming the lights before bedtime to keep it as dark as possible. Remember Meltzer’s advice? “The secret is cool, dark, comfortable bedrooms.”
#6. Try Reading a Book
Ever wondered why kids find it really easy to sleep when reading them a bedtime story? According to a 2009 study at University of Sussex, merely opening a book before bedtime can help cope with insomnia. The study also showed that 6 minutes into reading reduces stress by about 68%, clears the mind and also prepares the body for sleep. However, it is important to know that reading from a physical book is different from reading from an electronic device. This is because electronic devices emit light, which can affect melatonin secretion, making it difficult to fall asleep.
#7. Try Listening to Calming/Relaxing Music
Classical music, in particular, or music with slow rhythm of 60 – 80 beats per minute can help calm your mind and help you sleep better. It’s also reported to reduce symptoms of depression. We recommend using an app like Relax Melodies which will guide you to sleep by allowing you to choose melodies that best calms you.
#8. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Excessive alcohol, caffeine or certain medications are a few frequent reasons for poor sleep. Although caffeine is known to stimulate alertness and fight fatigue, its effect varies from person to person. Like every other energy drink, taking caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime can cause an adrenaline surge and get your hormones bustling. So, it’s best to avoid taking caffeine or alcohol 8 hours before bedtime.
#9. Exercise During the Day
When it comes to improving the quality of sleep (boosting melatonin secretion-the sleep hormone and reducing cortisol secretion-the stress hormone), exercise has been known to be highly beneficial. However, the best time to exercise is during the day. You should also consider maintaining a moderate-intensity workout routine because exercising lifts your metabolism level and increases your body temperature, which in turn disrupts sleep.
#10. Get Comfortable Mattress and Pillows
Do you know that sleeping on the wrong mattress and pillow can result in poor sleep as a result of chronic back pain, neck pain and discomfort in any form? You can try a medium firm mattress with a good neck pillow that will keep your neck in a comfortable position to enjoy a good night rest. You could even consider using 2 pillows, one for your neck and the other in between your knees to keep your hips in a neutral position.
With these ten simple tricks to help you get to sleep and fall asleep fast, you can be sure to enjoy more quality sleep. Are you ready to give them a try?
Dr. Peter Wong
Hidden Valley Smiles