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Sleeping well – how to experience quality sleep at night

All too familiar with that lethargy followed by dragging yourself out of bed each morning? Coupled with the foul mood you are in all day and the feeling of never getting enough rest, you might be suffering from sleep deprivation, or experiencing a lack of quality sleep.

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Research has shown that our bodies follow a diurnal pattern each night, and any disruptions can result in feeling unrested even after a whole night’s sleep. Having enough quality sleep affects our behaviour and mood for the rest of the day, thus making it more valuable to us. Below are some simple solutions to sleeping better.

Have a sleeping schedule.

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Waking and sleeping at the same time each day can condition your body to enforce a sleep-wake cycle and boosts sleep quality. A caveat: if you’re not asleep within 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. You are simply not ready to sleep yet. Falling asleep naturally when you tire is more effective than desperately willing yourself to sleep.

Avoid certain foods and drink that prevent sleep.

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I’m talking alcohol, nicotine and anything with caffeine. These substances serve to stimulate your body, and can significantly affect your ability to fall asleep. Stop consumption of caffeine 4 to 6 hours before your bedtime. Smokers should also refrain from smoking before going to sleep. While alcohol makes you sleepy immediately, it becomes a stimulant after a few hours, which can disrupt your sleeping pattern.

Create a sleeping nest.

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The place you sleep should be as comfortable as possible to give you that sense of security when you sleep. The environment should be cooler, dark and quiet which encourages wholesome slumber. Try earplugs or videos with “white noise” that can block out harsh sounds from outside. Dark curtains, blackout shades or an eye mask can also help to tell your body it’s time to sleep.

Limit what you do in your bedroom.

Keep work items, TVs, computers outside to heighten the psychological association between your bedroom and sleep.

Have a bedtime ritual.

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Repeating certain activities sends a signal to your body when it’s time to sleep. This can be taking a warm bath or shower, reading or listening to relaxing music with dim lights. Such activities can improve sleep quality by facilitating the transition from wakefulness to sleepiness. Take note that using electronic devices might not be as effective. Blue light emanated from such devices can wrongfully send signals to your brain that it isn’t time for sleep.

Cut down on the afternoon naps.

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If you know you have trouble sleeping at night, try to reduce the length of your afternoon naps. To around 10 – 30 minutes. This is enough to leave you refreshed after. If you work night shifts, your sleeping environment becomes more important. Keep it dark so that sunlight doesn’t stream in and affect your body clock.

Start exercising.

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Regular physical exercise can encourage better sleep, including falling asleep faster and enjoying deeper sleep. The time you exercise is important as well. Exercising just before bedtime can energise you too much. Try it early in the morning or in the evening after work.

Managing stress.

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If you are overwhelmed at work and have many things on your mind, it might last through the day till it’s time for bed. Even when you’re in bed, these thoughts do not seem to go away it is likely the cause of your insomnia. Think about ways to release stress and pent up frustration. Start by organising, prioritising and learn not to micro-manage too much. Remember to give yourself a break or grab a coffee with a close friend. You can also note down what’s on your mind before bed and put it aside for the next day.

Consistency.

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Once you’ve established the habits above, remember to stick to that routine. This makes it easier to wire yourself when it comes to sleep. However, if problems persist, you might have underlying sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy. If you still have trouble sleeping and interrupted sleep, you might want to consult a doctor or sleep specialist.

Some might love sleeping more than others, but regardless sleep is essential and vital to our well-being. It is often overlooked as a cause of our crankiness but might just be the cause of it. Try these simple tips to turn your sleep around.

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