How to Achieve Better Sleep – Part II
May factors contribute to the quality of your sleep, including the foods you consume, your emotional state and the condition of your bedding.
Diet: Eat balanced meals at regular times. Avoid caffeinated products after 3 p.m.. Coffee, tea, colas, chocolate and many common pain relievers have caffeine as an ingredient and may affect your ability to sleep. Since nicotine also stimulates the central nervous system, smokers may want to quit well before bedtime.
Alcohol, a depressant, can also affect the quality of your sleep. A nightcap may make you feel drowsy, but it may also keep you from achieving a deep sleep, which in turn may cause you to wake often during the night.
A light bedtime snack comprised of food high in carbohydrates may help you become drowsy. Avoid foods that are spicy or high in fat as they can keep your digestive system overactive.
Relax and enjoy: We would all like to escape the stress and strain on our emotions that everyday life can bring. It is often difficult to put your thoughts away as you try to sleep. You can, however, learn to relax.
If your muscles feel tied up in knots or if your mind continues to whirl at a fast pace, you may need to try some relaxation techniques. As you lie in bed, stretch your body and imagine each part of your body letting go of the tension you’ve generated through the day. Let your thoughts float. Pleasant imagery can help you get the feeling of relaxation and warmth that promotes restful sleep.
If you are tossing and turning after 20 minutes or do not feel drowsy, don’t continue to lie in bed. Get up, go into another room and occupy yourself with a relaxing activity like reading until you feel sleepy.
About bedding: Don’t forget that the environment you sleep in is also very important. Make it quiet, dark and slightly cool. Avoid drafts and fans that may blow directly on you as you sleep.
Your bedding should be large and firm enough for comfort. When purchasing a bedding set, lie down for a full five minutes (with you partner if your share a bed). Don’t be intimidated by store surroundings. Your comfort is what really matters. The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing a mattress every eight to ten years.
If you are unsure what type of bedding would work best for you, consult with a doctor or chiropractic that has a thorough understanding of your body mechanics.
Dr. Scott Donkin is an expert in occupational health and wellness with a successful private practice in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is the author of Sitting on the Job, How to Survive the Stresses of Sitting Down to Work – A Practical Handbook ($15 plus $4 S&H); 1-800-552-6347.