How to Create the Right Conditions for Sleep

July 30, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ LIfestyle

If you are one of many that experience trouble getting to sleep or sleeping soundly through the night and you feel flat and drowsy during the day, there are a few things you can do to improve the situation. Provided you are not suffering from a serious sleep disorder caused by an illness, your lifestyle and sleeping habits will play the most significant role in determining the quality of your sleep. And even if you are receiving medical treatment for a serious sleep disorder, making changes to certain lifestyle habits can improve the chances of your treatment succeeding. Sleep experts use the term ‘sleep hygiene’ to refer to all the things that we can do ourselves to improve the quality of our sleep.

Good sleep hygiene means making specific changes to your habits and your sleeping environment to improve (or regain) your ability to fall asleep and sleep soundly through the night. The first step is to take a close look at your bedroom.

If you want to fall asleep, you need to give your body the right signals. An environment that is dark, quiet and not too warm makes it easier to get to sleep, while light and sound in the morning will help to wake you up.

Getting the indoor climate right – an appropriate temperature and humidity with adequate ventilation – is also good for your health. Being too hot or too cold can prevent you from falling asleep and may lead to muscle cramps or chills. Low humidity can dry out the airways leaving you parched and uncomfortable.

Your bedroom should be quiet. Close the windows and doors. If you have the option, it is better not to sleep on the side of the house nearest the street. Before you go to bed, open the window up to let in plenty of fresh air.

Your bedroom needs to be completely dark. Windows should be fitted with blinds, shutters or curtains that block out as much light as possible. Dawn simulator alarm clocks, which gradually increase the brightness in the room as your wake-up time approaches, are highly recommended.

Your bedroom should have a humidity level of around 15 per cent. Appliances that either humidify or dehumidify the air are an effective way to maintain an appropriate humidity level.

Your bedroom should be relatively free of dust. Carpets, artificial plants and other decorative items quickly gather dust, which often contains allergens that can irritate the airways and impair sleep.

Your bedroom should not have any potted plants or cut flowers in it, although plants produce oxygen during the day, they give off unhealthy carbon dioxide at night.

Your bedroom should be a place of rest and relaxation, not an all-purpose junk room. The bedroom is not the place for computers, televisions, exercise equipment, laundry racks or the ironing board.

It is sometimes said that radiation from power cables or electromagnetic fields from devices such as cordless phones can have a disruptive effect on sleep. There is no scientific proof of such a link but experts believe that some people are more sensitive to electromagnetic radiation than others.

Telephones do not belong in the bedroom unless you are expecting an urgent call. Just being near a telephone is a sign that you are available to be contacted and this can contribute to a level of arousal that may impair your sleep

A good bed is essential to a good night’s sleep! During the night, especially during deep-sleep phases, your bed will make or break your chances of getting a good night’s rest. You will change position anywhere between 20 and 40 times during the night. It is important that your bed supports and relieves pressure on your body, and that it does not restrict your movement in any way. Your spine should be able to maintain its natural curvature no matter what position you are in, which means the surface of the bed needs to be right for your back – not too soft and not too firm. If you experience back pain for no apparent reason first thing in the morning, it’s a sure sign your sleeping arrangements could do with some improvement. Even if you cannot feel it in your back (yet), a substandard bed will be having a negative impact on your sleep. It is worth checking if there is anything about your bed that needs to be changed.

Bedcovers should be lightweight and breathable. Wool and down quilts are especially good; high-quality microfibre and other special fillings are recommended for arthritis sufferers or people who especially feel the cold.

You can adjust how warm you feel in bed with the choice of material and number of layers you use. Men tend to prefer cooler covers than women. Warmer bedding should be used in winter. Use standard sized pillows, around 45 cm x 70 cm (18 in x 28 in), that are washable and not too heavy.

What you wear in bed depends on the climate and season. On chilly nights choose sleepwear in soft cotton-knit fabrics as they are warm and comfortable, and breathe well. During the heat of summertime you may prefer to wear nothing at all.

After 4 pm, you should avoid drinks that contain caffeine or guarana – a South American plant that has berries containing large amounts of caffeine. This means keep away from coffee, cola and energy drinks. The body needs at least 6 cups (1.5 litres) of fluids a day, but from the late afternoon onwards you should aim to meet that target with water, diluted fruit drinks or herbal teas.