10 Tips for Better Sleep

As we age, it can be harder to get a good night’s rest. But lack of sleep can seriously impact on quality of life. Here are 10 tips to get the best rest you can.

Keep regular hours. It helps to train your body to go to sleep at a specific time and wake at a regular hour – yes, on weekends too! It’s worth making this a priority until you feel better rested. Set the alarm and get up at the same time every morning, and get into bed at about the same time every night.

Use light to your advantage. Bright lights can inhibit sleep, so turn the dimmer switch down or turn on lamps an hour or two before going to bed. Getting sunshine and using bright lights during the day can also help your body regulate its sleep pattern.

Stay away from caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine in particular inhibits sleep so it’s best to cut back or eliminate it from your diet. If you are going to consume caffeine, do so early in the day. And although the “night cap” may make you feel sleepy, alcohol actually can make the quality of your sleep worse, so consume moderately and a few hours before goingo bed.

Use the bed for sleeping only. Resist the temptation to read, write, sort bills, or watch television from your bed: if you keep it for sleep only you’ll help to set a pattern of relaxing and falling into sleep once you lie down. Decluttering the bedroom can also help you to relax in that space.

Strike a balance with food. Eating a big meal just before sleeping can interfere with sleep, but so does hunger. A small snack before going to bed may be the best answer. Be sure these snacks aren’t overly sugary or contain caffeine. Some foods are conducive to sleep: hot milk, turkey, oats, bananas, and peanuts are often recommended.

Avoid exercise near bedtime. Getting your heart rate up is great for your body and can help you sleep – but not if you exercise at the wrong time of day. For best results don’t exercise in the three or four hours before you go to bed (a slow walk after dinner is fine).

Dial the thermostat down. If your house is kept too warm it may be difficult to sleep, particularly if the temperature is set over 20 degrees celsius. A warm bath 90 minutes or so may also help induce sleep – as your body temperature drops your sleep mechanism is triggered. Being too cold also inhibits sleep, but here covers can help regulate your body temperature.

Get “off the clock.” Turn the clock around when you go to bed so you can’t see the time. Then try a relaxation routine where you visualize a beach or vacation spot and let your body relax. These psychological cues can help induce sleep.

Jot down your worries. Anxiety can be a real sleep inhibitor. If you find yourself worrying before you go to sleep, try writing any concerns down to get them on paper – and off your mind.

Don’t stress if you can’t sleep! If you can’t get to sleep, or wake up in the night, remind yourself that you will sleep eventually.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Digital Skillet Photography

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