Get deeper sleep at night with these expert tips. By Dawn Chen
How to sleep better. Photo: 123RF.com/PaylessImages
It seems that everyone struggles with sleeping better. Here are six easy habits you can adopt to ensure you sleep better at night.
1. Create a bedtime routine
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is one of the best ways to help your body ease into a good night’s sleep. A simple habit you can adopt is to make sure you go to bed at the same time every night (weekends included!), and wake up around the same time each day. This consistency helps to regulate your body clock, and makes it easier to fall asleep at night.
To sleep better: Establish regular sleeping and waking hours, and try to stick to them even on weekends or on holidays.
2. Exercise regularly
Yup, exercise really seems to be the all-cure. According to Taylor Bean, a naturopathic doctor, regular exercise “is one of the best ways to use up excess cortisol that is making you feel excited from stress.” Cortisol is also referred to as the “stress hormone”, and is what keeps you going even though your body is actually tired. When your cortisol levels are too high, it’ll be hard to unwind and relax.
To sleep better: Expend your energy by taking a slow jog or doing stretching exercises around two hours before bedtime.
3. Dim and quieten your bedroom
“Your sleeping environment should be quiet, cool and comfortable,” says Taylor. She also recommends reducing the amount of ambient light as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to designate the bedroom as your sleeping area, and to avoid doing work there. Keep away all mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices before bed too, as they can “generate electromagnetic fields that can disturb sleep for some people,” adds Taylor.
To sleep better: Try not to lie in bed and scroll through Instagram or Facebook on your phone. If possible, avoid using these electronic devices an hour before you sleep.
4. Pick the right foods
Eating sugary foods (yes, that includes super sweet fruits) can cause your blood sugar level to spike, and this can disrupt your sleep later on. Instead, Taylor recommends eating foods that are high in vitamin B6 as that helps with melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that signals when you sleep and wake, so eating foods that can support melatonin function will help you sleep better.
To sleep better: Consider having a protein- or- fibre-rich snack (e.g. nuts, seeds, bananas and avocados) two hours before bed. Avoid eating too much just before sleeping too as you don’t want to stress your tummy as it works hard to digest.
5. Your sleeping position matters
The best position for sleeping is flat on your back. When you sleep on your back, your spine is straightened and you don’t put extra pressure on any of your joints. The worst sleeping position is when you lie stomach-down. In order to breathe, your neck naturally turns and becomes twisted, and this causes it to be strained.
To sleep better: Try getting used to sleeping on your back. You may use a small pillow to prop your feet up too.
6. Sleep on the right surface
You might have heard from grandma that sleeping on a harder surface is good for your back, but that’s not necessarily true. The most important thing to look out for is support – regardless of whether you prefer firmer or softer mattresses, the surface has to adequately support your spine, lower back and joints. Look for something that can support your weight as well, so you’re not straining or putting more pressure on your joints than you should.
To sleep better: Invest in a bedding topper like Airweave. It helps to distribute your weight more evenly and relieve pressure on your joints so you don’t wake up achy.