Counting sheep, having a snooze or catching some Z’s. Some researchers believe sleep is as essential to good heath as food, water and oxygen. But if you’re finding you’re constantly tired and you wake up grumpily fumbling for the snooze button every morning, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your sleep habits.
1. Follow a sleep schedule
If your sleeping patterns are erratic, your body’s sleep-wake cycle is compromised and you need to increase the consistency. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day (even on weekends) and if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep (you’re still tossing and turning after 15 minutes or so), find something else to do. Read a book or try some gentle stretching – anything that will relax you and allow you to nod off naturally.
2. Have a bedtime ritual
Allowing your body to wind down before sleep is essential. Following a bedtime ritual can help you transition from being wakeful to being drowsy. Try to limit your usage of electronic devices, curb your TV time and dim the lights (and the noise level) to lessen the stimulating effects they can have on your body. Slipping into a warm bath (bubbles are optional!), indulging in a herbal tea or listening to some soothing music can also help.
3. Watch your diet
A grumbling or too-full stomach may lead to discomfort and keep you awake. Drinking too much fluid pre-bedtime can also lead to one-too-many trips to the bathroom, while over-indulging in nicotine or caffeine can over-stimulate and wreak havoc on your body’s ability to relax. Watch your alcohol consumption as well, as although it can make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt your sleep patterns later on in the night.
4. Make sure you’re actually sleepy
Daytime siestas are definitely beneficial, particularly as you get older or if you’re over stressed; however, long daytime naps will just make it even harder to fall asleep when the time comes. Try to limit yourself to a maximum of 30 minutes per nap during the day and indulge mid-afternoon so that your body has a chance to tire again pre-bedtime.
5. Get physical
Regular exercise can reduce stress levels and help you enjoy a deeper sleep, but it doesn’t have to be rigorous. A leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood, a relaxing yoga session or a few soothing laps in the local pool can all help with sleep quality. Watch your timing though – exercising too late in the day can mean you’re over-energised and will affect your ability to wind down.
6. Moderate temperature
Being too hot or too cold at night can severely affect how soundly you will sleep. Body temperatures (and therefore comfort levels) differ from person to person. Some prefer covering up with a blanket (even in summer), whereas others find they need a fan or air conditioning on all year long. Of course, it also depends on where you live and the yearly climate you’re dealing with, so trial and error is the best course of action here.
7. Comfort, comfort, comfort
Comfort is probably one of the most important factors to ensuring a good night’s sleep. Besides an environment that is dark and quiet (for most of us!), your mattress and bedding can have a profound affect on your ability to enjoy a peaceful slumber. But it is subjective, so it’s worth consulting a specialist retailer like MiniJumbuk for advice on a wide variety of high-quality quilts, blankets and pillows that will suit your individual needs.
Follow these few simple tips and fluff up that pillow and you’ll be counting an abundance of sheep in no time.