How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Naturally!

Posted Friday, Aug 21, 2009 by Allen B. Ury

A Good Night’s SleepThe more we study sleep, the more we learn how important slumber is to our mental health, our physical well-being and even our lifespans. Yet many people struggle just to get a good night’s sleep. The pressures of family, work, school and other aspects of modern American life can make it difficult to get the quantity and quality of sleep our bodies so desperately need. Sleeping pills can offer temporary help, but they often leave people feeling foggy and sluggish even hours after they’ve woken up. (Sleeping pills, even those purchased over-the-counter, can also have numerous side effects.)

Here are some chemical-free tips on how to get a good night’s sleep—every night of the week:

1) Make Your Bedroom Your Bedroom—Period. There are only two things bedrooms should be used for, and sleeping is one of them. In this age of multi-tasking, it may be fashionable to “upgrade” your bedroom with a television, desk, computer, workout bike and maybe even a videogame console, but these doo-dads will ultimately become distractions that just make it more difficult for you to do what the bedroom is designed for: sleeping.

2) Get the right mattress. By “right,” we mean what’s right for you. Whether you like your mattress firm, soft or somewhere in between, the place you spend one-third of your life should be comfortable and stress-less on your body.

3) Eliminate light sources. Open windows, glowing clocks and even little LED status lights on modems and other electronic devices can be detected by your optic nerve—even through closed eyelids—making it difficult to fall asleep. Thick shades or tight window shutters can help block out ambient city lights, but if you can’t eliminate all light sources, invest in a good, comfortable sleeping mask.

4) Exercise moderately during daylight hours. Moderate exercise like a half hour of walking daily is a great way to burn off excess tension and prep your body for sleep when nighttime comes. But never exercise right before bed; that will only stimulate your system and make it more difficult to fall asleep.

5) Avoid chemical stimulants. Caffeine and nicotine can disrupt natural sleep patterns. Alcohol, although technically a depressant, can also have stimulant-like effects, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to fall back to sleep.

6) Avoid electronic stimulants. Start “winding down” about a half-hour before bedtime. Turn off the TV. Power off the X-Box. Shut down the computer. Let your mind and body settle down before finally turning off the lights and getting down to the business of sleep.

7) Don’t eat before bedtime. Eating—especially a heavy meal—within an hour of bedtime is almost certain to make falling asleep difficult. The earlier in the evening you can eat dinner, the better, and restrict snacking to the early evening hours as well.

8) Read. Climbing into bed with a good book is a great way to relax the body and get your mind off the trials and stresses of everyday life that can keep you awake at night.

9) Make Sleeping a Habit. The body’s “circadian rhythm” is a powerful thing. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day—even on weekends. People who vary their sleep schedules can suffer classic “jet lag,” even if they never leave their home.

10) Need extra help? Try herbal teas. Okay, herbal teas are technically “chemicals,” but chamomile, anise, valerian and fennel-based teas have few if any known side-effects, and they’re proven sleep-inducers.

A good night’s sleep will make you more energetic, sharper and more focused during the day. So settle back, grab those covers and don’t let the bedbugs bite!

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