FOR A GOOD SOUND SLEEP
This is a well-known advertising slogan used by one Swiss mattress manufacturer. In reality, getting a good sound sleep is often easier said than done. Following my last blog, which was devoted to the topic of chronic sleep deprivation and its consequences, I would now like to offer you a few simple tips that you can easily practice in order to get a good and restful night’s sleep.
Determine your individual sleep requirements: The amount of sleep that we need as individuals differs greatly and cannot be influenced since it is genetically programmed. Most people require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. In the US, however, around half of the population sleeps less than seven hours. Around half of the CEOs of major companies get less than 6 hours of sleep per night – with the consequences that I outlined in my previous blog.
Try to figure out how many hours of sleep you need to feel at your best. You should then try to always sleep roughly this same number of hours each night. People who attempt to catch up on sleep at weekends only end up confusing their bodies. When we sleep regular hours, our hormone level increases around 1 hour before waking up and the body’s temperature and blood pressure rise. You feel much more rested when you wake up if you always sleep the same amount of time.
Sleeping tablets and the snooze button make you tired: Sleeping tablets are addictive and actually disrupt our sleep cycle. As a result, the harmful waste products in our brainS cannot be broken down sufficiently. Hitting the snooze button actually makes you feel more tired. This is because within the space of a few minutes, you get roused from sleep a second time. You will feel much better if you simply get up when the alarm goes off.
Less caffeine, alcohol and nicotine: In the afternoon, you should drink less coffee or none at all. Caffeine stays in the blood for a long time. If you drink a coffee at lunchtime, around 50% of the caffeine is still active in the body at bedtime. As for that little glass of wine: Alcohol may help you to fall asleep but it causes you to wake up more in the second half of the night. If possible, avoid smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant, so smokers feel four times more tired than non-smokers when they wake up.
The right food at the right time: Don’t eat anything within two hours of going to bed. And hard-to-digest foods like salads, fruit or meat should be consumed even earlier.
Exercise is good – but it also has to be at the right time: Take sufficient exercise during the day but not too late in the evening. That is because exercise acts as a short-term stimulant.
Clear your mind: Before you go to sleep, write down anything that is bothering you or list what you need to take care of the next day. That way, it won’t weigh on your thoughts as much during the night.
Find the right method to relax: To relax, take a warm bath before bed, drink a cup of warm milk with honey or use relaxation techniques or breathing exercises – whatever appeals to you most.
Electronic gadgets disturb your sleep: Remove all electronic devices from your bedroom except for a reading light and an old-fashioned alarm clock. Smartphones emit blue light. If the retina is exposed to a high proportion of blue light, the brain interprets this as daylight. It then suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
The right bedroom temperature: Your bedroom shouldn’t be too warm. An ideal temperature is between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius.
If none of this helps, don’t hesitate to consult a specialist. After all, getting a sound night’s sleep is essential in order for you to stay healthy.
© Claudia Kraaz