Sleep is a crucial component for health, performance and daily living. During sleep our bodies repair themselves and our brains integrate new information, organize memories and put learned information into long-term memory. If you have trouble getting enough sleep these tips can help you build better habits:
- Limit caffeine, particularly in the afternoon and evening.
- Limit alcohol. Especially avoid excessive consumption before bed.
- Try to quit tobacco use; nicotine is a stimulant.
- Don’t use a computer, cell phone or handheld device in the 90 minutes before bedtime. LED lighting “tells” the brain to stay awake.
- Limit television viewing before bed.
- Lower the temperature in the house or bedroom before and during sleep. The body likes cooler temperatures. Many sleep doctors suggest lowering body temperature 90 minutes before bedtime.
- Take a hot bath 90-120 minutes before bed.
- Use the bed only for sleeping, lovemaking, and perhaps reading before sleep.
- Nap only 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon, if necessary.
- Keep a sleep diary to track patterns.
- Eat 3-4 hours before bed and avoid heavy meals. Some evidence suggests that a light carbohydrate snack before bed helps sleep.
- If possible, protect sleep from intrusions (unexpected noises); consider wearing earplugs.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something else until your body and mind feel tired.
- Meditate, listen to soothing music, or create other nighttime rituals that signal it’s time to sleep.
- Use blackout curtains to block light.
- Buy and use a reliable, effective alarm clock.
- Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow.
To view the full article from the November-December 2013 IDEA Fitness Journal click here.