There a probably hundreds of hints, herbs, tricks and medications to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. But rather than focus on how to fall asleep, what’s more important is to focus on what you do when you’re awake that will allow you to sleep better. In this short article, I’ll give you five simple tips that you can do during the day to help improve the quality of your sleep so that you can wake up more refreshed and have more energy during the day.
The first and most important thing is to avoid eating close to bedtime. The general rule of thumb is to avoid eating anything within 3-4 hours of going to bed. That means no late-night snacking. It’s generally thought that if you have food in your stomach while you sleep, the energy that it takes to digest food diverts nutrients from the rest of your body and brain, so that healing and restoration can’t occurs that well. Another simple explanation is that lingering stomach juices can either leak up or be actively sucked up into your throat, causing you to wake up frequently, preventing deep efficient sleep. It’s been shown that even normal people have short occasional breathing pauses which can create a vacuum effect in the throat.
The second most important step is to avoid any kind of alcohol within 3-4 hours of bedtime. Conventional thinking is that alcohol is dehydrating, but one thing that most people don’t realize is that alcohol is a strong muscle relaxant. It will make you drowsy, so you’ll fall asleep easier, but because it also relaxes your throat muscles including your tongue, you’ll stop breathing more often and keep waking up from deep sleep to light sleep, or wake up completely multiple times. Suffering from deep sleep deprivation will give you that “hangover” feeling, which most people interpret as dehydration.
Third, get more sunlight. Not the artificial, tanning type, but the real sun. Because of all the paranoia about skin cancer, and due to modern society’s shifting to indoor office work, we don’t get enough sunlight shining not only into our eyes (which sets and calibrates our internal sleep clock), but our skin as well (which promotes Vitamin-D production). Try exercising in the morning when the sun’s rays are not as damaging, and go outside for lunch.
Fourth, turn off all electronic devices, including your TV, cell phone, computers, and radio at least one hour before you go to bed. All these thing stimulate your brain too much, and besides, most of what you see or hear in the media is either disturbing or bad news anyway. You don’t need to clutter your mind with this material before you go to bed.
Lastly, take an inventory of your entire bedroom in complete darkness and look for excessively bright lights on your electronic devices. The LED lights that come with modern appliances are super bright-some are brighter than most night-lights. Cover them with black electrical tape. Make sure your windows prevent any stray light from entering your bedroom. Your eyes need complete darkness for your internal sleep clock to function properly.