People cannot long survive without air, water, and sleep.
–Thomas Szasz, M.D.
Are you getting enough sleep? If not, you are not alone: researchers have found that most of us are lacking an adequate amount of sleep. The jangling pace of modern life seems to be wreaking havoc on our sleep patterns, and dragging around after not enough sleep is not only no fun, it can also be a danger when we drive or do our jobs.
Here are twelve secrets for getting more good-quality, restful sleep. For instance, do you know what the ideal room-temperature is for sleeping? Or what the perfect nightcap is? Find out, so the Sandman can pay a visit to your bedroom tonight!
1. Create an optimum sleep environment. This includes a mattress that offers ideal support and comfort; a dark room (see below); steady, soothing, low sounds like a whirring fan; and a room temperature of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is optimal for sleep.
2. Don’t miss sleep to get extra work done. Most people shove sleep aside in favor of working more hours with the belief that they’re maximizing efficiency, but in fact the opposite is true. You will be more creative, more expressive, and so much more efficient when your brain is alert and oxygenated.
3. Relax before bedtime. Find yourself too geared up to fall asleep at bedtime? Create a ritual for quality sleep. A cup of hot chamomile or catnip tea works wonders. Hot milk with a dash of nutmeg or a cup of homemade, low-sugar hot cocoa are also helpful for many people. You may want to take a soothing bath and soak in aromatherapeutic bubbles scented with lavender, Roman chamomile, or neroli essential oil.
4. Eat several small meals throughout the day to stabilize your blood sugar level. If you’re hungry and hypoglycemic when it’s time for bed, you will have trouble falling and staying asleep.
5. Exercise vigorously in the morning. By evening you’ll be naturally tired. Vigorous exercise right before bedtime can be too stimulating for many people.
6. Avoid hot, spicy foods at dinner, as well as caffeine or alcohol.
7. Wear comfortable, preferably cotton, clothing to bed–or sleep au naturel.
8. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible to enhance melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone produced by the pineal gland that brings on drowsiness and sleep. Even small amounts of light entering your bedroom can interrupt its production, so pull the shades and put the nightlight in the bathroom. If you must, wear a sleep mask.
9. Go to bed by 10 P.M. Generally, the more sleep you receive before midnight, the better you’ll feel in the morning. (The Centre for Integrated Healing says, “From a complementary medicine perspective, an hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 hours of sleep after midnight, because sleep before midnight optimizes melatonin production.”)
10. Don’t work or discuss work in the bedroom. It’s too distracting.
11. Give yourself a nice foot or hand massage prior to sleep. Even better, offer to give your significant other a brief massage if they’ll return the favor.
12. Once in bed, lie on your back, close you eyes, place your arms by your sides, and take long, deep, easy breaths through the mouth. Let your mind focus only on your breathing. This exercise almost always lures the author into a deep, sound sleep.