Posted on: February 24, 2009 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 0

There’s no shortage of things to be worried and restless about, but sometimes it can mess with your sleep which usually means the rest of your day. A sleepless night will make you exhausted for the whole day, and can become a vicious cycle you easily get trapped in.

Everybody needs to sleep well often – it’s as important to our physical and mental health as eating right and getting enough exercise. Our circadian rhythms, the 24-hour bodily process that responds to daylight and sunlight, determines how our body functions operate in every way. We need to be in tune with that process to be at our best health.

Here are some ways to get a better sleep during those anxious, sleepless nights.

1. Practice breathing mindfulness and meditation.

¬In the simplest sense, breathing mindfulness is being aware of how you are breathing. This includes when you breathe, how long your breaths are, and your posture when breathing.

Focusing on your breathing can have benefits throughout the whole day, but can really help before going to sleep. Since it’s during your sleep cycle that your body regenerates, Having a relaxed mind can help you stay in top mental shape.

In focusing on your breathing, you don’t need to change anything. All breathing mindfulness requires is to be aware of your breathing, both in your breathing itself and in your surroundings. The relaxing, focusing qualities of breathing mindfulness can help you sleep better and wake up easier in the morning.

2. Chill out.

Sleeping in a warm room can interrupt your sleep and make your body temperature change just enough so that there’s more strain on the body. It is recommended that you sleep in a room that is no more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (around 21 degrees Celsius).

If you are too cold, use a warm blanket instead of turning the heat up. The colder temperature will keep your body temperature more levelled, allowing your body to go through all the recovery processes while you sleep.

3. Hello darkness, my old friend.

Your eyes require complete darkness to get a proper sleep. Light, whether natural or artificial, gives off the same effects as daylight. During sleep, this will trick your brain into believing it is still daytime. This interrupts your circadian rhythm and you probably won’t sleep as well as you’d like. A simple computer or television screen left on while you sleep can trick your brain and body into thinking it is still daytime.

You may want to consider getting a sleep mask, heavier blinds, or drapes if the sun rising is a problem for you. Night shift workers who sleep during the day and people who have windows near streetlights or billboards will probably have this problem. Also, always be sure to turn off any computers or televisions in your room when you are sleeping.

4. Get a new pillow.

While you might have grown accustomed to your pillow, if it’s very old, it can cause a strained neck and back, and might be covered in dust mites that you breathe in during sleep. Neither of these things are particularly healthy, so if it’s been a while since you’ve bought a new pillow, it might be time to do it now if you’ve been having trouble sleeping.

5. Limit computer or television screen usage before sleep.

Everybody likes to kick back with a classic TV episode or some Internet browsing before bed – it’s a relaxing and entertaining way to finish the day. However, you may find that too much time spent at a computer or television at night time is affecting your sleep, even if you don’t even notice it.

Again, sources of artificial light from cell phones, televisions, and computers, stimulate your brain and mess with your body’s internal clock. To help, try turning off these devices a few hours before going to bed.

A better option before bed is a book or magazine. As tempting as it can be to throw on Netflix before bed, you’ll find that you get much more satisfying sleeps with reading before bed since it doesn’t give off any artificial light.

6. Watch caffeine intake during the day.

This is where restless sleep can become a vicious cycle – since you are exhausted from not sleeping the night before, you might drink a coffee or tea throughout the day to keep you awake.

When your caffeine intake during the day is too high, it will affect your nerves, blood flow, and how much your mind races when you go to sleep. Instead of drinking coffee or tea to stay alert during the day, it may help to eat apples or other sources of natural sugars.

7. Avoid certain foods a few hours before sleeping.

Your blood sugar has a big impact on how you sleep and how your body functions during sleep. What you eat in the hours before going to sleep will affect your blood sugar levels and the overall energy your body needs to digest the food in your stomach. When it is struggling to digest food and break down nutrients, your energy levels will be higher when trying to sleep.

The biggest things to avoid are foods that are very high in sugar and carbs. Sugar will affect your blood flow and digestion, where carbs will affect your overall energy levels and how many calories are being burned. You should also avoid red meats, as they are more difficult to digest than vegetables and fruits, which need less energy to digest.

Making small changes to the time you spend before sleeping and the time you spend actually sleeping will benefit your health and give you more energy for the next day.

Taking these small steps can change the “vicious cycle” of lack of sleep, and you’ll get into a healthier and more refreshing sleep cycle. By having a room and bed better for sleeping, eating right, and overall relaxing more efficiently will make you better rested and will leave your body feeling like new.

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