Losing sleep is certainly not something to be taken lightly. An occasional night of tossing and turning is normal, but continued patterns of this behaviour can cause real problems in your ability to function normally. Research shows that inadequate sleep can have disastrous effects on your weight loss efforts and impair your concentration.
But the good news is that, starting tonight, you can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Here are 6 ways to get back on track. You'll be sleeping like a baby in no time!
- Create the right environment. Get your body and mind in the habit of using your bedroom for sleeping. If you frequently sit in bed to pay your bills, do your homework, watch television, eat, talk on the phone, etc., your mind will expect that the bedroom is for daytime activities. Instead, create an environment that is suitable for sleeping. Equip your room with soft lighting, comfortable bedding, and relaxing music.
- Get yourself into a routine. This is especially hard for people with wavering, active schedules, like students and parents. On busy days, it is difficult-but crucial-to be firm with a routine. If you normally don't fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, or if you don't have a sleep schedule at all, try going to bed a half an hour earlier each week, or set a time to get in bed and stick with it.
- Limit food and beverage intake before bed. As you lie down to sleep, acids in the stomach level out, making heartburn and indigestion more likely to occur. Also, your metabolism increases slightly to digest food, which can also raise your energy level. If you must snack on something, keep it small, and avoid high-fat foods, which take longer to digest.
- Consider a natural approach. Certain herbal teas can help you relax and fall asleep. Chamomile is a popular herb that slows the nervous system and promotes relaxation.
- Know when and how to nap. When energy levels drop around 3-5 p.m., most of us desire a little shut-eye. Napping is okay, as long as you do it wisely. Most sleep counsellors recommend napping for no longer than 20 minutes. Exceeding 20 minutes could leave you feeling groggier and make it harder for you to fall asleep at bedtime. If you know you have to stay up late, or if you have an erratic sleep schedule take a nap during the day. You'll be more productive and in a better mood!