A few hours before bedtime is the ideal time to start preparing for a good night’s sleep. Read on to learn more about the body, its sleep-wake cycles, and how to guide the body toward falling asleep fast and producing a good night’s rest.
Set a Schedule and Follow It
Determining and honoring the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle—or circadian rhythm—is very important in preparing for a good night’s sleep. Some individuals are programmed to remain awake later, others to wake up early. If at all possible, try to follow one’s “body clock”—and stick to it. Even sleeping in on weekends can disrupt alignment with that clock, so try to adhere to the same sleeping schedule no matter what day of the week it is.
Since the body’s system is not designed to digest food during sleeping hours, avoid heavy, protein-laden meals before going to bed. If eating late, go for foods like turkey, bananas, honey, and warm milk to increase the flow of melatonin, a hormone that encourages sleep at night. As for alcohol, enjoy the nightcaps at least over three hours before bedtime. If alcohol is consumed too close to bedtime, it can lead to disruptive sleep, snoring, and feelings of insomnia.
Power Down the Gadgets and TV
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the light-emitting screens of technological devices inhibit the urge to fall asleep. As a result, turn off all laptops, smartphones, and the TV at least an hour before bedtime or better yet, eliminate them from the bedroom altogether.
The Nocturnal Scene
The ideal atmosphere for sleeping is a room that is dark, quiet, and cool. Try to eliminate as much light as possible. If noises from traffic or other sources are inevitable, try obscuring it with the sound of a fan, white noise, or the use of earplugs.
Since the goal is to go to bed with a relaxed, carefree mind, do not allow worries or racing thoughts to impede a good night’s sleep. Instead, jot them down on a piece of paper for consideration the next day. Some writing or light reading is typical for a bedtime ritual but preferably in a comfy chair or sofa rather than in bed.
A Stretch or Bath
Light stretching that loosens and relaxes tight muscles before bed is a good idea, especially when much of the day is spent facing a computer screen. A short stretching routine can help relieve muscle tension and prepare the body for a more peaceful, rejuvenating sleep. Of course, a warm, relaxing bath before bedtime is almost always a sure way to fall asleep fast and benefit from a thorough night’s rest.
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