Insomnia, disrupted sleep, restless nights. Lack of rest plagues many, coming in the night to steal away one of the most important aspects of survival, sleep.
Recent studies suggest that long term lack of sleep is connected to brain tissue loss, memory loss, and increase in accidents at work and in the car. The human body can barely run when low on sleep, cognitive function and decision making abilities are severely hampered. In short, you are a mess without sleep.
While you may have resigned yourself to a couple grabbed naps here and there, an answer can be found. Here are a few simple steps to bring harmony and restful nights back into your home.
First and foremost you must do all you can to remove distractions from your bedroom. Things such as televisions, computers, exercise equipment and work desks will cause your mind to wander and distract you from sleep. Find other places in your home where you can keep these items. If you are limited in space, try placing them as far away from your bed as possible. As soon as you lay in bed put down your electronics, your book and turn off the TV. This eventually teaches your brain that as soon as you get to bed you will be going to sleep.
Lamps can make a world of difference to your sleep routine. Bright lights do not allow for the secretion of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone in the body that induces sleep. Replace overhead fluorescent lighting with low wattage bedside lamps. If you prefer overhead lighting try attaching a dimmer to the bright bulbs in your home. Gradually dim the lights as you’re preparing for bed, this will tell your brain and body that you are ready to sleep. For nighttime bathroom trips, install a simple night light in your hallway or bedroom, this keeps you in sleep mode and allows quicker re entry into deep sleep.
Surprisingly, colder temperatures are more conducive to a full night’s rest, your body temperature cools down as you fall asleep. Set the thermostat 5-10 degrees below what you keep it at during the day. In fall and spring months it is especially beneficial to crack a window and allow in fresh night air. Not only will this create a better sleep environment, it will also provide extremely healthy air for your lungs.
While you may have accepted needing to shape your pillow before each night and finding that sweet spot in your mattress where the springs don’t squeak; old bedding can severely hamper your quality of sleep.
Invest in fresh new sheets, preferably organic cotton or another breathable material. Replace your pillows when you see obvious signs of aging, such as yellow spots, fraying and if they do not spring back into shape when folded. If at all possible, find a new mattress that works for you; one made with organic materials is best. If you are on a budget, try getting a memory foam or down mattress topper, a decent replacement for the real thing.
While these are just a few changes you can make to your sleeping environment there are endless changes to make in your own life that will have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being.
Getting enough exercise, managing stress and eating a clean diet will all help your body function optimally. Get on a regular sleep schedule and pay careful attention to your diet – try eating as many whole, unprocessed foods as possible. Take the time to wind down before bed, breathe deep, have a relaxing bath or meditate. You may soon find that counting sheep is a thing of the past.
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