Sleeping is one of the necessary things in life we cannot do without, just like breathing, eating and loving. Every living creature gets to sleeps for an amount of time and at a time of the day. It is an inevitable activity. Even the busiest man to ever live on the earth found time to sleep (John 5:15 & Matthew 8:24). The purpose for sleeping is to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit. When we carry out our daily tasks, our bodies become weary. To sustain our strength through the day, we engage in eating and taking short breaks. At the end of the day, in order to restore our full strength, we sleep.
However, many people do not regain their full strength after they have slept. Why? Because they aren’t sleeping well enough. Most times, people think that the more hours you get to sleep, the more rested you will become. This is not true. You can sleep the longest and still be the least rested. Sleeping well to get enough rest has some rules you have to follow. Let me share with you five simple ways you can use to improve your sleep and get enough rest.
- Have a consistent sleeping duration.
Choosing and sticking to a convenient sleeping duration is a good way to improve your sleep. The consistency of this routine helps your body adjust rightly to your lifestyle, so when the time for sleeping comes, your body knows and is ready to easily switch to the resting mode and when you sleep, your body gets the rest it needs. To choose a sleeping duration, good planning must be done. You would need to study your daily routines to come up with a convenient timing. For example, as a working-class ‘Lagosian’, I took into consideration factor like working hours, traffic hours and power situation, among others, when I was choosing my sleeping duration. I finally came up with six hours of sleep from 10pm to 4am, Mondays to Fridays and added two more hours during weekends. I’m still planning to fully adjust to the six hours of sleep Mondays to Sundays.
- Eat well and don’t eat or drink late in the evening.
Eating well has been advised by many health experts as they roll out its wonderful health benefits. Yet, not many talk about how eating well can help improve your sleep. The most advice we hear, when the words ‘eat’ and ‘sleep’ are in the same statement, is that we should not eat or drink late in the evening if we want to sleep well. This is indeed true because eating or drinking late in the evening can disturb our sleep with the frequent bathroom breaks we’ll need to take. Nonetheless, eating well can also help to improve your sleep. When you eat well during the day, your body gets the necessary nutrients it requires to function properly. So, when you sleep, your body is well equipped to carry out its works without disturbing your sleep. However, when you do not eat well and go to sleep, your rumbling stomach will become a major distraction for you to sleep well.
- Take a warm shower before getting into bed.
A warm shower can do a lot more than keep your body clean and rid it of skin infections caused by dirt and moisture. Research has shown that taking a warm shower before bedtime helps improve your sleep, as you get to easily drift off. However, there is a right time to take the warm shower, which is earlier and not right before bedtime. Taking a warm shower right before bedtime heats up your body temperature and your body temperature needs to be cool in order to easily get to the point it feels sleepy. According to science, our body temperature isn’t the same throughout the whole day; it’s higher in the morning and evening. So, if we intend to get a good sleep, our body temperature needs to drop by bedtime. Having a warm shower early enough allows your body to heat up, collects and expels the heat into the atmosphere. This process causes a drop in your body temperature and by bedtime, your body is cool enough and ready for a good sleep. The recommended time to take your shower is about an hour and a half before your bedtime.
- Exercise regularly.
Exercising regularly is good for your mind and body. When you exercise regularly, you are likely to quickly notice how good you feel throughout your day. This good feeling you experience impacts the quality of your sleep, causing you to have a good sleep. Though researchers are yet to fully understand how exercising improves sleep, studies have shown that exercising causes the body temperature to increase and after exercising, the body temperature drops. As we have found out, a drop in the body temperature paves way for a good sleep. Also, it has been verified that exercising reduces anxiety and other depressive symptoms that causes insomnia. While there is no exact time for exercise, it is advised that people should listen to their bodies to identify how well they sleep when they exercise because the type of exercise you do and when you exercise can either improve or disturb your sleep. Healthy adults should exercise for at least thirty minutes a day.
- Avoid bright lights before bedtime and during your sleep.
We are constantly surrounded with artificial lights all through the day with our use of the light bulbs, TV sets, laptops, iPads and phones. The artificial lights shine through tools we use to perform our daily tasks. While the lights are useful and unavoidable, its usage during the night time can affect how we sleep. When you are exposed to bright lights during your bedtime, sleeping well becomes impossible because the lights make it difficult for your brain to reach deep sleep. As such, the light alters your sleep mode and leaves you struggling to fall asleep. Even when you finally manage to fall asleep, a little amount of light exposure can disturb your sleep and cause you to awake prematurely. It is best to avoid bright lights before and during your bedtime if you want to sleep well. No more watching TV, viewing emails, ‘Snap-chatting’, ‘Instagram-ming’, or ‘Whatsapp-ing’ before bedtime. All screen viewings should be totally cut off.
I hope with these simple ways, you can improve your sleep and become a more productive version of yourself.
Written by: Amoma Awala