How to Sleep Well and Avoid Sleep Deprivation
by Sam Butterworth
Where do you sleep?
Do you crash out at the end of a day amongst the remnants of procrastinated tasks and clutter? Do you keep your phone or laptop close at hand just in case? While it might seem that the bedroom’s aesthetics are superfluous to your sleep success, your surroundings play a vital role in helping your brain to switch off and your body to wind down. Only allow items in the bedroom which make you feel calm and happy. Take stock of your comfort levels too – think lighting, temperature and noise levels, and ensure these are all conducive to sleep. It might also be time to re-vamp your bedding – new pillows and clean sheets can really help you to achieve that all too elusive state of slumber.
We all know that sugar, caffeine and nicotine can keep you awake, but did you know that alcohol, despite its apparent sleep-inducing properties, actually inhibits restful sleep? It is also useful to know that certain foods – bananas, almonds, figs, avocados and milk, to name a few – actually contain elements which help to induce sleep?
It goes without saying that taking some exercise during the day is a great way of tiring your body out for sleep, but exercising too close to bedtime can have the reverse effect; getting endorphins pumping right at the time you want to be winding down, so take stock of when you carry out your exercise.
Set a healthy routine
Just as young children find routines helpful for getting to sleep, so too can we benefit from a consistent, structured set of pre-bed habits. Whether you choose to read or carry out other calm activities, take a shower or bath, have a bite to eat or a warm drink, try to repeat a set of activities each night. Don’t forget that it’s also crucial to keep regular sleep and wake times –however tempting it might be to lie in bed at the weekend – in order to keep your circadian rhythms functioning effectively.
Sometimes, even with good eating, exercise and pre-bedtime habits, sleep still evades us. In these circumstances it can be helpful to have a few sleep techniques at your disposal. Tried and tested methods include recounting the day’s activities in reverse – a little mundane perhaps but it certainly helps to focus your mind and distract it from invasive thoughts. Another method which works is trying not to fall asleep, which can take the pressure off when you’re having a sleepless night. Sometimes this is enough to get you feeling drowsy again.
About the Author
Sam Butterworth is a writer and recently created an in-depth guide on How to Get to Sleep for Homemaker Bedding. He wrote this article especially for Recovering the Self, with a focus on achieving restful, healthy sleep and avoiding insomnia and sleep deprivation.