Sweeter Dreams

How to improve one’s sleep

For many, something as simple as sleeping can be difficult most days. To prevent the long nights of tossing and turning, here are a few tips that may help with a poor sleep schedule.

Stick to a schedule
Committing to a consistent sleep schedule can help the body find its natural rhythm and settle into a regular sleep-wake cycle. People with inconsistent schedules are more likely to experience irritability, mood swings, poor concentration, memory problems and more, according to getsom.com. To start off, try setting a reasonable bedtime and progressively making it earlier each week.

Create an ideal environment
Creating an ideal sleeping environment can help one feel comfortable and cozy. A few ways to make an ideal resting space are blocking any unneeded light, keeping temperatures cool, silencing noises such as phones or wearing a sleep mask, according to cdc.gov.

Practice breathing exercises
Taking the time to do some simple breathing exercises before bed can help compel the body into a good night’s rest. It is one of the easiest ways to engage in the body’s natural relaxation response, according to sleepfoundation.org. One technique is the 4-7-8 method, where one breathes through their nose for four seconds, then holds their breath for seven and finally exhales for eight seconds. The 4-7-8 technique forces the mind and body to focus on regulating breathing with methods such as visualization, alternate nostril breathing or mindfulness meditation, according to healthline.com.

Reduce caffeine intake
Intakes of caffeine even six hours before bed can have disruptive effects on sleep. Up to 500 mg of caffeine can be found in 16-oz servings of brewed coffee, according to jcsm.aasm.org.

Reduce naps
Taking naps throughout the day can delay one’s ability to fall asleep later in the night. Reducing naps can help with sleepiness for when it is time to go to bed. If taking a nap is necessary, it is more advisable to shorten naps than pushing bedtimes later, all according to sleepfoundation.org. Around 20 minutes is a reasonable time to sleep during the day to feel well rested for the remainder of the afternoon.