How to Get the Best Sleep of Your Life
We all know the importance of getting at least eight hours of quality sleep, but for many people, that can be easier said than done. Even when sleep comes easily, it may be difficult to stay asleep. Fortunately, there's an entire branch of medical research dedicated to helping people overcome sleep disorders. Research has uncovered some tips and tricks to help us get the sleep we need, so we can wake up feeling energized, refreshed, and ready for a new day.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
Many people think it's good enough to stop drinking caffeinated beverages a few hours before bed, yet they still have difficulty falling asleep. In fact, caffeine stays in your system longer than a few hours, so, if falling into a deep sleep is difficult for you, this is the first thing you should consider. Doctors recommend having your last dose of caffeine by mid-afternoon to ensure it has a chance to run through your system.
Douse the Blue Lights
Another factor that inhibits sleep quality for millions of people is the use of electronics late at night. The blue lights generated by televisions, mobile devices, and laptops trigger the brain, which has been trained to understand that the use of electronics is equated with productivity. The brain becomes energized by the light and this prevents people from becoming drowsy at bedtime. Sleep experts recommend powering everything down at least one hour before you go to bed.
What Can You Do for That Hour?
You may be wondering what you're supposed to do for that hour if you can't use any electronic devices. After all, we've all been conditioned to rely on electronics from a very young age. Instead, use this time to read a book (not an ebook) or listen to music. You might also spend some of the time practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. These activities will put you in the ideal state for sleep and let your brain know that it's time to power down.
Practice Lucid Dreaming
There are many benefits of lucid dreaming, including increased productivity, enhanced physical performance, and better problem solving skills. Some people are born with the ability, but most people must practice lucid dreaming to become adept at it. There are a few things you can do to begin lucid dreaming:
- Keep a Dream Journal: Writing down your dreams will help you remember more details about them.
- Recognize That You're Dreaming: The best way to do this is to observe printed words and the time in your waking world. In dreams, these items will change between glances, but, in reality, they remain constant. This will help you recognize a dream.
- Mnemonically Induced Lucid Dreams (MILD): Repeat the phrase “I will have a lucid dream tonight” as you try to fall asleep. This will prepare your mind for lucid dreaming.
- Wake Induced Lucid Dreams (WILD): This is the state of being aware that you're falling asleep. It can be a frightening experience, because you will also be aware of the normal sleep paralysis that occurs with sleep. However, it's also a prelude to lucid dreaming, so learn to accept it and welcome the sensation.
More: Learn How to Lucid Dream
Are You Cool Enough?
Your sleeping quarters may need some adjusting, if you're not getting the type of sleep that lets you awaken recharged and energized. First, examine the temperature. If it's not cool enough, your ability to stay asleep may be affected. You may need to have an HVAC technician recharge your A/C unit, or you may need to add a fan. When you're too hot, your body won't be able to relax sufficiently and sleep will be harder to come by.
Are You Comfortable?
Additionally, look at the various features of your sleeping quarters. Is it dark enough? Are you located on a busy street? If you live in these conditions, it may be beneficial to invest in a sleeping mask and earplugs. Also look at your bedding. You may need new sheets, firmer pillows, or more blankets. This is one area of your life in which you should indulge in luxuries. The more relaxing you can make your bedroom, the better quality of sleep you'll enjoy.
Trade in Your Afternoon Nap for a Workout
Many people take an afternoon nap once they get home from work. This is a problem for a few reasons. First, you're storing up energy and inhibiting your body's ability to relax and properly rest later at night. By avoiding naps, you'll have more time for other activities and your body will be better prepared for quality sleep later in the evening. The best use of that time is to engage in a workout, or some other form of physical activity. A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who engage in vigorous exercise during the day experience a much better quality of sleep in the evenings.
Avoid Social Jet Lag
This is a condition that results from staying up later and waking later on your days off. When you have to get back to your normal routine, you'll end up feeling drained and sluggish, instead of energized and refreshed. To avoid this, try to maintain the same sleep hours on your days off that you practice throughout your work week. A constant schedule will keep your brain accustomed to the routine and it will be easier to fall asleep. It may require some discipline, but, over time, you'll appreciate the effects a constant schedule has on your ability to sleep.
When we sleep, our bodies use that time to repair muscle and restore the body's energy levels. However, those processes are inhibited if we're not getting a sufficient amount of quality sleep. Taking these steps to ensure you can achieve a properly restive state will not only help you get the sleep you need, but will allow you to awaken with a rejuvenated feeling. You'll be more productive throughout your day and you'll enjoy your waking hours that much more.
Here are some great articles on similar subjects:
- 4 Tips for Getting an Even Better Night’s Sleep
- 5 Ways to a Better Night’s Sleep With Mindfulness Meditation