Research shows a good night’s sleep is fundamentally important for not only how effective and productive we are in our lives, but also how we think and feel.i When we don’t get enough sleep we may experience a reduced quality of life, increased feelings of stress, anxiety and an increased risk of developing a number of other health conditions. Evidence now shows that sleep is essential to help maintain mood, memory and cognitive performance.ii
Put simply, getting a better night’s sleep can help you lead a fuller, happier and healthier life. The good news is: there are many tried and tested ways you can get a better night’s sleep.
Consider the following simple strategies.
In the evenings prior to retiring it can be useful to do certain activities that are likely to encourage the body to enter a drowsy state. The aim is to reduce activities that promote stimulation and excitement, and to engage in activities that wind the body down. For example, activities such as reading a book or doing a short meditation can be helpful. Similarly, taking a bath creates a rise and fall in body temperature that encourages sleepiness. It can also be helpful to turn down the lights, turn off the television and reduce stimulation such as talking about work or difficulties in the lead up to going to bed.
If you have trouble falling asleep, the time you go to sleep may not be synchronised with your body clock. By setting a regular sleep time each night your body will begin to “be ready” to go to sleep when you go to bed. Irrespective of the time you go to bed, it is perhaps even more important to wake at the same time each morning. Again, this can help establish your circadian rhythm (body-clock like mechanism). Even on the weekends it is important to try and maintain your sleep and wake time routines.
There are several substances that stimulate the body so should be avoided in the evening. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved in the sleep-wake cycle. According to Dr Lawrence Epstein caffeine lasts in your system from four to seven hours, and results in less slow-wave (deep) sleep. Therefore, to help improve your sleep avoid known stimulants, such as coffee, tea (yes, even soothing teas have caffeine), chocolate and caffeinated energy drinks.iii
Likewise, it means avoiding alcohol. Even though alcohol is technically a depressant, its relaxing effect on the body is short-lived; during sleep it becomes a stimulant, reducing the quality of your sleep and increase waking throughout the night.
According to the National Sleep Foundation,iv half of all people who experience insomnia attribute their sleeping difficulties to stress and worry. This can be brought on by a particularly stressful singular event or ongoing stress and worry. Hence, it can be beneficial to learn techniques to manage your stress better. Exercise and meditation can be useful —ensure you engage in regular daily exercise for at least 20 minutes, preferably early in the day. Practice a meditation or mindfulness strategy to help you switch off the mental noise and worry. Ending your day writing all your thoughts in a journal before going to bed can also help get them out of your head. Some people also find it useful to keep a pen and paper by their bed so that if they wake in the middle of the night worrying about something they need to do, they can jot it down and go back to sleep.
A good night’s rest requires a room that is conducive to sleep. For starters, learn to associate your bed with rest, instead of work or stress; keep your bed for sleep and intimacy only. Do not work in your bed or cover your bed with work items. Keep laptops and mobile phones out of the bedroom, perhaps purchasing a cheap alarm clock so you have no need for your phone in the room. Resist the urge to check email on your smart phone throughout the night. Ideally your TV is located outside your bedroom as well.
Secondly, make sure that your room isn’t too hot or too cold to fall asleep. Sleeping is encouraged by a dip in your body temperature, so create a cool environment to sleep in. Ensure the room is well ventilated, and use layered cotton blankets rather than a heavy doona as it is much easier to regulate your body temperature.
Lastly, create darkness. Darkness encourages the body’s production of melatonin, which facilitates sleep. It helps therefore to install blinds on your windows to shut out the light, and to cover anything that omits light such as clocks or iPod docks. Also, in the morning when you wake, open the blinds to let in the sunlight. Sunlight triggers the body to wake, via the production of serotonin. Again, this can help regulate your sleep and wake cycle.
The good thing about natural sleeping aids is that they are generally well tolerated and can be purchased without a doctor’s prescription.
Some, like Prosomnia, may also help get you into deep sleep, which will help in making you feel refreshed and recharged once you wake up. One of the benefits of Prosomnia is that over time Prosomnia gently assists the body to restore natural sleep patterns and during this time it helps you increase the amount of time spent in the deeper, more restorative phases of the sleep cycle.vii, viii, ix
With regular, daily use Prosomnia helps you:
If you are typically a “light sleeper” Prosomnia may be just what you need to help you get more of the deep sleep that your body really needs.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.