We’ve all tried it, with perhaps limited success. We lay in the bed after a long day of stress and responsibilities, only to go over the day’s events or worrying about tomorrow’s tasks to complete. While worrying and formulating a strategy to cope with tomorrow’s problems may seem to be productive, even lying in bed, the exact opposite is true!
Everyone needs proper quality sleep in order to function at a high level. Now, some may be able to get by with 5 or 6 hours of sleep by training their body’s clock to sleep deeply and completely for that period of time. For most of us however, 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is the rule. So how do we get to sleep and stay asleep? Counting sheep? Well, as crazy as it may seem, this age-old method of relaxation does work!
Any cognitive relaxation technique that clears the mind of clutter and keeps the mind focused on a relatively thoughtless visualization, like watching sheep jump over a fence and counting each one until you fall asleep, can work! Deep breathing and muscle relaxation, starting with the toes and continuing up through the top of your head, also slow the mind and body and help the brain focus on rest rather than the trials of the past and the challenges of tomorrow.
Preparing for bed and creating a restful environment for sleep is probably the easiest and most straightforward method of improving the quality of sleep. Create a haven for rest in your bedroom. Make it as dark as possible, eliminate noise from TV and radio, let the dogs in so you’re not bothered by barking, and cool the room down as much as possible. The body rests most comfortably at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. That may seem mighty cool and it’s unlikely that the room could reach that temperature, especially in the summer months even with the AC running full bore, but the point is to make the room in which you sleep as cool, dark and quiet as possible.
Your bed has to be comfortable and used for sleeping and adult relations only! Don’t take work or meals to bed with you, and change your mattress if you continually have problems with back pain or soreness in the mornings.
As tempting as it is to watch that late night newscast or talk show, don’t do it in bed! Even if you do fall asleep regularly with the TV on, the constant flickering of light from the TV screen and the varying sounds from shows playing interrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, the natural sleep-wake cycle. This noise and light display may not jolt you out of bed but you subconsciously follow what’s going on in the room and consequently, it prevents deep REM sleep from taking place and leaving you less than rested in the morning.
Simple scheduling and smarter lifestyle choices can lead to better sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (including on the weekends) will help us feel better rested and fight off fatigue during the day. Getting ready for tomorrow’s focus, hours before bedtime, helps keep worrying about what we need to accomplish tomorrow to a minimum. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and nicotine before bed will lead to a better night’s sleep. Obviously, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and thus, keep us alert and awake. Even though alcohol is a depressant and can make us sleepy to start, the sleep cycle can be interrupted as the effects of alcohol wear off, leaving our mind and body clock confused. As such, alcohol consumption just before bed, as counterintuitive as it seem, is generally a bad idea.
We’ve frequently alluded to the benefits of exercise for most every ailment and condition addressed. Getting a good night’s sleep is no different. Regular exercise, so long as it’s not done right before bed, can work off stress and clear our minds and body of the tensions associated with the daily grind! Simple concept of course…but it works!
Sometimes it seems like we do everything in our power to relax, create the perfect environment for resting and eliminate the factors that keep us awake, yet we still aren’t getting the deep sleep we need to function properly. That’s when we can turn to all-natural sleep aids and supplements to give us that extra push to get in bed, relax and doze off till morning. IHL Essentials Good Night’s Sleep is a sublingual tablet, taken nightly for a peaceful night’s sleep. It contains the sleep regulating compound, melatonin, which is a naturally-occurring substance that enhances the body’s proper circadian rhythm.
So, take your sleep supplement, relax, turn the TV off, make the bedroom cool and dark, and get comfortable…then start counting those sheep!