There is a quote that escapes me at the moment, but it is something along the lines of “it is only when a person cannot sleep that they truly appreciate the length of the night.” If you know the quote and / or who said it, please email me!
Adequate sleep is a major component to your overall health, and with so many distractions and stressors in our everyday lives it’s no surprise that many people find themselves unable to get a good, restful night’s sleep. If you are tossing and turning all night you are missing out on the many benefits of sleep which included increased immunity, increased memory performance, decreased anxiety and pain levels as well as other things.
Many factors can alter the quality of your sleep and this list could easily contain nearly a hundred suggestions. For the sake of brevity, I have picked my 10 favorite solutions for getting a great night’s sleep. So here they are:
- Make your bedroom sleep friendly. Using your bed for the two S’s (sleeping and sexy-time) is amongst one of the best things you can do to ensure that when you hit the sheets, your brain is ready to turn itself off for the night. This means no eating, no reading, no texting, no angry birds and most definitely no TV watching from the bed. Ideally you would just remove the TV from your bedroom all together to be honest. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible night. There is evidence that suggests that even something as small as bright LED’s in our electronics has an impact on our circadian rhythms which control the sleep-wake cycle.
- Spend money on a quality mattress. Sleeping is an endurance event for your body. For a significant amount of time you are exposing your body to biomechanical stress that can lead to decreased quality of sleep and contribute to overall aches and pains. Most mattresses tend to have a 7 to 10 year life span and after that time begin to sag and create pressure points which end up causing problems. Traditional spring mattresses can be fine for single sleepers as long as you find one that fits you, but if you have a partner I would highly recommend looking into the Sleep Number or Tempur-Pedic type beds that account for human variability. If you’d like to know more about which bed I would recommend for you give the office a call, and who knows? If you’re nice enough I might even consider venturing with you to help you pick out an appropriate bed for your needs.
- Get a supportive pillow. This really goes along the same lines as the mattress. If you find yourself stuffing your hand underneath your head, or waking up every morning with neck stiffness then there is a good chance that you need a new pillow. The key is to finding one that keeps your neck in a neutral position (which is to say, one that keeps you from tilting your head too far one way or another when you rest your head on it). I usually recommend the D-Core pillow from Core Products, but I have also heard people who are happy with any number of other options that are available. I’ve found a good rule of thumb to go by is to get one that is just slightly firmer than you think will be comfortable as they usually wear in quickly. Also, if you have allergies try to avoid pillows that are stuffed with goose-feathers and the like as they contain and trap allergens that synthetic fills tend not to.
- Develop a relaxation ritual right before bed time. Something as simple as doing some stretches or writing down the things you are stressing about right before you go to sleep can go a long way towards decreasing racing thoughts and restless legs. Whatever you choose to do just focus on relaxing for at least 10 to 15 minutes before you turn-in for the day.
- Avoid foods that contain stimulants like caffeine for at least 8 hours before bed time. The effects of caffeine in things like tea, coffee, sodas and chocolate can last up to 8 hours, which can make it difficult for your brain to get in sleep mode. Be aware of your food and drink choices by keeping a diary and compare them to how well you sleep or how easy it was to fall asleep. You’ll see a difference, trust me.
- Exercise daily. Getting a moderate amount of exercise (20-40 minutes per day) can help your body burn off extra energy and induce fatigue making it easier to get to sleep and fall asleep. It goes without saying that there are many other benefits to this level of exercise, but be sure to consult a physician before beginning any regular exercise program.
- Avoid eating large meals before bed time. Eating a large within a couple of hours of your bed time can end up making you uncomfortable due to slowed digestion as well as predispose you for heartburn. If you need something to tide you over consider a light snack and get it in your belly at least an hour before you head to bed. The same goes for drinking large volumes of liquid before bed. Sleeping with a full bladder canend up waking you up multiple times a night and seriously disturb your sleep cycles.
- Use sleep aids with caution. The effects of taking sleep aids long-term, be they natural or pharmaceutical grade, is limited at best and using things like alcoholic beverages for instance should be avoided. Over time your body gets used to these sorts of things and they either become ineffective at helping you fall asleep or decrease the quality of sleep that you are getting.
- Update your alarm clock (or throw it out). Ideally, you would set a strict sleep schedule and eventually have no need for an alarm clock. That can be difficult though, so if you need an alarm clock so that you aren’t late for any more 7 AM business meetings, I would suggest switching to a progressive style alarm clock like this one. They use light and sound to wake us up in a more gradual manner than the jarring beeps of the clocks of yester-year and can really improve the perception of having had a restful night’s sleep.
- Get adjusted! Spinal adjustments help relieve pain and improve spinal biomechanics. Restrictions in spinal movement can sometimes make it uncomfortable to sleep in an ideal position (on your side or back) which can have an effect on sleep quality. So if you need a chiropractor in Denver, give us a call or find a qualified chiropractor near you through the ACA’s website.
Hope you enjoyed the list and utilize these tips to get on the path towards a great night’s sleep and a healthful tomorrow!