5 simple lifestyle changes for better sleep

Why is sleep so important? It promotes good health, makes us happier, ensures that cuts and wounds heal faster, makes us more alert and active during the day, lowers stress, improves memory, supports a strong immune system and reduces the chances of developing diseases and conditions. But you already know this.

You’ve done everything to get better sleep – darkened your room, switched off your mobile phone, turned down the temperature in the thermostat and even invested in some premium organic bamboo sheets. Yet the sleep God doesn’t pay a visit.

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If you struggle to get enough shut-eye we share some tips to help you get some much needed rest

What are you doing wrong? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of people suffer from poor quality of sleep.

National guidelines recommend adults have at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night but studies show a third of Australians fail to get enough on a regular basis. So what can you do to ensure an uninterrupted night of dreamless sleep?

Although darkening the bedroom is a good habit, making certain lifestyle changes for better sleep may prove to be more beneficial. Here are five of them:

1. Say no to naps
Yes, napping during the day can help replenish your sleep debt, but it can also make nighttime sleep worse. Afternoon naps not only decrease the quality of sleep but also prevent you from falling asleep easily at night. If you absolutely must indulge in a siesta during the day, then ensure that it’s 30 minutes or less. To avoid nodding off in the afternoon, talk to a friend, take a short stroll, have a glass of cold water or simply wash your face.

2. Do light exercise before bedtime
Working out regularly not only promotes good health but also elicits better sleep. WebMD recommends exercising regularly to get some high quality shut eye at night. However, rigorous exercises should be avoided four hours before bedtime. Ideally, do some light exercises before hitting the bed such as yoga or Tai Chi.

3. Avoid drinking liquids close to bedtime
Guzzling down drinks and even water before bed isn’t a good idea because it leads to frequent trips to the bathroom. Once you’re awake, it’s hard to fall back to sleep. Avoid drinking liquids at least two hours before bedtime to eliminate bathroom visits at 3am.

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Drinking fluids close to your bedtime may mean late night bathroom trips so it’s best to avoid liquids at least two hours before you sleep

4. Do something calming
Even doing 10 minutes of an activity that calms or relaxes you can make a significant difference. This is particularly useful for people who worry and think a lot catching some z’s. Read a book, have a warm bath, do deep breathing, listen to some Mozart or calming music, meditate.

Taking a warm bath can soothe tired muscles and drop your body’s temperature after an hour tricking the body into thinking it’s time to sleep. When we doze off, our body’s temperature falls so tricking your body is a good way to induce sleep. Add Epsom bath salts to your tub in order to reduce stress and relieve sore muscles.

5. Ditch the caffeine
Simply cutting down on coffee and tea isn’t good enough. Some kinds of chocolates, pain killers and weight loss pills also have caffeine in them. Read the list of ingredients in chocolates and ask your doctor if your pain killers and medication have caffeine in them. Even small amounts of it can inhibit a restful slumber.

Experts advise having some warm milk or sipping on chamomile tea laced with honey to encourage sleep. Sniffing some lavender or dabbing a small quantity of lavender oil on your pillow also helps. This essential oil is known to slow down heart rate, decrease blood pressure and even promote healing.

A few lifestyle changes, such as the ones listed above, can go a long way in instigating a night of good sleep. The trick is to try different things and see what works best for you. For example, you may find that reading a book might not be as effective as taking a warm bath.

Keep trying and before you know it, that evasive eight-hour catnap you’ve been craving for so long will come to your command in no time.

What have you tried to help improve your sleep? Let us know in the comments below.

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