Do you suffer from insomnia? If you do, you’ll know that wearying feeling as the clock strikes three and you feel as if you are the only creature on the planet still awake. Insomnia is a miserable, lonely affliction and it seems to be an increasing problem. Research suggests that it could be the increasing number of hours spent in front of computers, particularly late at night that is contributing to the surge of insomnia cases.
Certainly, one of the measures frequently suggested to those suffering with insomnia is to curtail mental activity close to bedtime. Television and computers should be switched off an hour before you turn in for the night. The reason for this is that the mind can become over-stimulated at a time when it should be winding down. It stands to reason, but are there other things you can do to help yourself get a good night’s sleep? After all, sleep is vital for maintaining good health.
Health benefits of sleep
Without sleep we would die. It is a simple fact, which means that sleep is as essential to the human body as eating, drinking and breathing. Sleep disturbances can lead to depression, a lowered immune system and anxiety.
Other benefits are as follows:
- The development of a child’s brain requires many hours of sleep, this is why it’s recommended they go to bed early and perhaps nap in the afternoon.
- During sleep, the body can restore itself and the mind can let go of tension and worry.
- Our dreams allow us to process the events of the day and wake up having left them behind.
In short, sleep is a very important part of life and our continued health. We neglect it at our own risk.
It may seem obvious, but it is essential that you have a comfortable bed. Many people spend years sleeping on their familiar old mattress, unaware that it could be hindering their sleep. Replacing a mattress is a costly business – if you are struggling to sleep but can’t afford to buy a new mattress then getting a mattress topper can really freshen up your bedtime experience.
You should also make sure you launder your bed linen once a week, as it has been shown that sleeping in clean sheets encourages relaxation and sleep
Sleep scientist have demonstrated that there is a direct link between ambient room temperature and a good night of sleep. While it might seem strange, the warmer your bedroom, the less likely you are to sleep well. The ideal temperature for restful sleep is between 60 and 68F. It is believed that higher core body temperatures correlate to a higher level of mental arousal.
If you get too hot, try opening a window in your room and snuggle down under the duvet. You may be surprised at the difference it makes.
Practice sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a word used by sleep therapists to describe the healthy practices we can employ in order to aid restful sleep. Having a routine is essential as bedtime approaches. Turn off computers and the TV well before bed, close the curtains and try to calm your mind. Some doctors still suggest a warm glass of milk before bed, since it contains natural sedatives.
Other foods that include the sleep promoting amino acid tryptophan are chicken and turkey, tuna, seaweed, soy products and spinach. But remember not to eat too late in the evening, because your body will have to work hard to process the meal and this will not aid restful sleep.