Sleep is an extremely important factor when it comes to how well we perform at work, at the gym, or any other type of activity one engages in. According to the CDC, about 50 – 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep or wakefulness disorder. This can be a serious issue because these disorders cut into the amount of time that they spend in deep, restful sleep.
What your body needs the most is slow-wave sleep, which is absolutely critical for physical healing and restoration. In addition to that, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a lighter stage, promotes alertness as well as mental clarity and focus.
And while both deep-wave and REM sleep are important, the overall goal is to have as much unbroken periods sleep as you can get (preferably at least 3 nights of unbroken sleep per week).
Here are some helpful (natural) ways in which you can fall asleep faster.
Always Prepare a Sleep-friendly Environment for Yourself
Make sure that your sleeping environment provides optimal comfortability for you. This means that you want to have it dimly lit and as quiet as possible. Keep the temperature to about 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This range will ensure that you won’t wake up either shivering or sweating in the middle of the night.
When it comes to choosing a particular fabric for your sheets or what styles of pillows you should use—that’s a personal choice you should make, not a scientific conclusion.
Sorry coffee drinkers! Simply put, caffeine doesn’t allow you to get into those deep sleeps. It restricts you to the lighter stages of sleep. To avoid the sleep-deprivation effects of caffeine (which has a half-life of 8 to 10 hours), stop your caffeine intake after 2 p.m. as a general rule.
If you’re used to drinking coffee or consuming energy drinks, if you have your last sips at 2 p.m., figure you can go to bed by roughly 10 p.m.
Engage in Mental & Physical Exercise
Meditation is a powerful and highly effective stress-reducing method. Not only does it help your mind to disconnect from many of life’s rigors, but it has actually been proven to assist in treating clinical insomnia.
However, while physical exercise may take a couple of months before it has any effect on your sleep, when it does you’ll have much deeper night’s rest. It will also help you to establish much more regulated sleeping patterns so that you always fall asleep by certain times. However, just make sure that you don’t engage in exercise for more than one hour before bedtime or your body will be too amped up to want to settle down.
If you’re like most people, you probably assume that there’s nothing wrong with a little “nightcap” before plunging into bed. While it’s true that drinking alcohol before bedtime makes you feel sleepy, it actually has a detrimental effect in the long run.
That’s because although alcohol makes you feel drowsy, it actually prevents you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep. The average person’s body requires one hour to metabolize one alcoholic beverage. So, if you have 2 drinks you shouldn’t go to sleep for 2 hours; for 3 drinks, 3 hours, etc. Plus alcohol consumption can lead to the need to urinate in the middle of the night, breaking up your restful sleep patterns.
Take a Nice Soothing Shower
Taking a relaxing hot or warm shower increases your core temperature and can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. This is especially true if you take it within 90 minutes of your bedtime.
During that time, your body experiences a gradual drop in body temperature. This in turn causes your body to produce melatonin, a natural sleeping agent which also helps to regulate your sleep and wake cycles.
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