10 Tips for Staying Stress-Free and Enjoying an Awesome Night’s Sleep
Everybody’s busy and stressed. It’s a cultural imperative. If you’re not busy and stressed, you’re not working hard enough. We’ve all come to believe that only lazy people have time to be idle. This attitude has to change. We’re sleep-deprived and stressed. Fine. What are we going to do about it? For starters, we need to stop frowning on a full night’s sleep and glorifying the poor sods who live on five or six hours a night. It’s people with time on their hands that deserve the badge of honour. It’s their behaviour you want to imitate.
Sleep changes us a lot. It improves memory, helps you live longer, heals inflammation and increases attention span and alertness. If you need to lose a few pounds, a good night’s sleep is a good place to start, since it helps with glucose processing and insulin production.
It’s time to break some of those poor habits that are inhibiting a restful night’s sleep. Just be aware that it takes several weeks of consistently good sleep to relieve the effects of sleep deprivation.
5 Bad Habits That Inhibit Sleep
1. Watching TV before bed
Our bodies are conditioned to sleep with it’s dark and wake up when it’s light. Lights blazing in your face at bedtime send the wrong message to your brain. Wake up! Be alert! Turn ‘em off. That means no email before bed either, but that’s a whole other can of worms. And ixnay on the Words with Friends.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: studies show that couples with TVs in the bedroom have 50 percent less sex than those without TVs.
2. Reading Game of Thrones
Try sleeping five minutes after Eddard Stark gets beheaded and Daenerys Targaryen goes into labour. Way too stimulating! Reading is often recommended before bed but in fact it can have an adverse effect over the long term. The body responds to habits. Reading in bed may help you sleep but your body will come to expect it. After a while you may have trouble sleeping when you don’t read. Avoid this problem by reading in a lounge chair in the living room. Save the bed for sex and sleep.
In the late evening, try something low-stress and creative like simple organisational tasks, letter writing or bedtime banter.
3. Coffee and cigarettes
Both are stimulants, make no mistake. Nicotine may cause you to feel sleepy but you won’t fall into that deep, REM sleep your body needs. If you must smoke, try to smoke your last cigarette a few hours before bed.
4. Eating spicy foods
This is especially true if you’re prone to heartburn. Processed or smoked meats should also be avoided. They contain tyramine, a chemical that makes your brain alert, also found in milk chocolate. If you need a sugar fix, try some dark chocolate, which will boost serotonin and help you sleep.
Don’t go to bed hungry either. Slow-digesting whole grains are excellent for sleep, balancing blood sugar and keeping you from waking periodically in the night due to hunger.
5. Being a busybody.
What’s so great about being busy? Some studies suggest that being sleep deprived is similar to the state of inebriation. You wouldn’t go around bragging about being drunk all the time, would you? Take time to be idle, do craft projects and hang around with your kids.
5 Habits to Cultivate for Better Sleep
1. Take a tablespoon of flax oi
This will encourage cell repair in the nighttime and help you feel more refreshed in the morning.
2. Practice meditation
Slow your brain down before bedtime. The last thoughts of the day are repeating in your brain all night long. You don’t magically float away to the land of rainbows and unicorns. If you’re thinking about answering emails and negotiating contracts before sleeping, that’s what you’ll be thinking about during sleep. Give your brain a break. Slow down. Try a few oms.
3. Change your body temperature
The body’s temperature changes naturally during sleep. You can trick yourself into sleep by warming up your body with a bath or shower and jumping straight into bed. As your body cools off, it should fall naturally into sleep.
4. Prepare your brain for the morning
Try focusing on good memories and happy thoughts. Imagine the way you want to feel in the morning and focus on that feeling. Imagine yourself smiling, laughing and enjoying life.
5. Cultivate a routine
Our bodies thrive on routine, even if our hearts and brains may not. Waking and sleeping at the same time each day is ideal, but a pre-bedtime routine is also essential. By repeating that same set of actions each night, you let the body know that sleep is coming soon.
Above all, a good attitude is essential. Consciously deciding to make sleep a priority, to enjoy awesome, restful sleep night after night, is essential a long night of easy zzzs. Watch your language and remember that thoughts are things. If you’re bragging to all your friends about how overworked and sleep-starved you are, that’s going to be your experience.
Start rhapsodising about what an amazingly comfortable bed you have and how many hours you spend in it every day. Fall back in love with sleep. Savour it. Tell your friends how well-rested and happy it makes you to sleep a full eight hours. Embrace sleep and sleep will embrace you.