The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can’t get there, is the meanest feeling in the world.
-Edgar Watson Howe
You spend one third of your life sleeping. This one third has significant effects on your waking life, in terms of productivity, energy, alertness, creativity, memory, body weight, mood, safety, and good health. Here are 10 sleep hygiene do’s and don’ts for better sleep:
Do: Have pleasurable sexual relations or masturbation before bedtime. Researchers have found that this can promote sleep onset and induce deep and restful sleep.
Don’t: Have un-pleasurable sexual relations before bedtime. If sexual experience leads to dissatisfaction, anxiety, or performance concern, it will be detrimental to a good night’s rest.
Do: Exercise to stay fit, reduce stress, and induce deeper sleep. Exercise elevates your body temperature, and an ensuing drop in body temperature at bedtime will induce drowsiness and deeper sleep. The best time to exercise for better sleep is in the late afternoon or at noon-time. Exercise in the morning has little effect on the quality of your sleep.
Do: Eat a light snack high in carbohydrates and low in protein if you are hungry before bedtime.
Don’t: Eat a large or heavy meal within four or five hours of going to bed. This may make you drowsy initially, but you will toss and turn during the night.
Do: Cut back on liquids of all kind before bedtime. This will ensure you don’t interrupt your sleep due to a full bladder in the middle of the night.
Don’t: Drink any caffeinated beverages within six hours of your bedtime. Stimulants such as caffeine will delay sleep onset and disturb REM sleep. Additionally, avoid drinking alcohol within three hours of bedtime if you expect to sleep well. The common practice of “having a nightcap before bed” actually suppresses REM sleep, and you will experience early-morning awakenings.
5) Nightly Ritual
Do: Create a nightly ritual of reading for pleasure before turning off lights. Use a reading lamp that can be gradually dimmed, and take your mind off the day’s worries. Also, try taking a warm bath before bed. After the bath, your body temperature will plummet (if you have a cool bedroom), and this will initiate sleepiness and more deep sleep.
Don’t: Create a ritual of stay in bed longer than you need to get sleep. Staying in bed too long will promote shallow and disturbed sleep.
6) Sleep Schedule
Do: Establish a regular sleep schedule. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that if you alert your sleep schedule by even a few hours, your mood deteriorates.
Don’t: Sleep in on weekends. This does not help overcome sleep loss during the week any more than overeating during the week would be helped by dieting on the weekend.
7) Sleep Position
Do: Sleep on your side, with the spine straight; or on your back, maintaining the primary curvature of the cervical spine.
Do: Take a nap of fifteen to thirty minutes in duration, if your hectic lifestyle doesn’t permit you to get enough sleep at night. Set an alarm for 15-30 minutes, as any time longer than that will put you in deep sleep, and you will wake up terribly groggy.
Don’t: Take a nap if you are already getting adequate sleep during the night. Additionally, don’t take late-afternoon naps, as this delays your falling-asleep time in the evening and will begin to shift your biological clock.
Do: Sleep with a stuffed animal if it comforts you.
Don’t: Sleep with your pets. Their movements and noises during the night or early morning can disrupt your sleep.
10) Your Bedroom
Do: Use your bedroom for sexual activity and sleep. If you watch television in your bedroom, focus on comedy as a tension reducer.
Don’t: Use your bedroom for arguing, watching exciting/violent television shows, eating, or working.
This post is part of the Sleep Evolver Series
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