A full night’s sleep is one of the most essential pieces of a healthy and happy life, yet it alludes many of us. The real world, like the British, seems to be increasingly taxing on our sleep time. Like our distant cousins, we can fight back, and claim our resting independence. Just as important as the quantity of sleep is the quality. If you lay in bed for 8 hours, but wake 4 times during the night, you really have not gotten a full 8 hours of sleep. In the name of alertness and productivity, we offer some tips on getting to sleep and staying asleep all night long.

Careful what you drink

Caffeine, obviously, is a stimulant and keeps you awake, making it an appropriate morning drink. Consuming it too late in the day, though, can make it difficult to sleep soundly. Cut yourself off at least 4 hours before you plan hit the sack. Another stimulant, nicotine, should be avoided before sleep for the same reason.

Alcohol, something you are probably familiar with, has the opposite effect of caffeine and puts you to sleep, though if rest is what you crave, lay off the sauce. While a few pints may initially assist you in following asleep, your body will not rest well throughout the night as it is processing the alcohol.

Watch what you eat as well

If you are real hungry, it can be difficult to sleep, so a light snack is okay. Carbs are easy for you body to process, so they are a better choice than protein. Dairy is okay as well. Milk contains L-tryptophain, the amino acid proven to help people fall asleep. Avoid heavy meals, though, as they will disrupt your body and not allow constant rest.

Avoid outside interference

During the night, you may be exposing yourself to a variety of items that disturbed your natural sleeping state. For example, do you let Rufus in the bed with you at night? You may not remember in the morning, but man’s best friend flopping around at your feet could be causing you to stir. Also, if you do wake, do not turn on the main lights in your house; rely on a night light, or maybe your cell phone. This will help you from totally awakening your body.

Take control of your sleeping environment to minimize all distractions. Keep the temperature in a comfortable range, 65 to 72. Block noise with earplugs if necessary. Use heavy curtains to prevent outside light (and noise as well) from shaking your body awake earlier than intended.

Train your brain

After making your bedroom a shelter from outside sleep thieves, take care to use it appropriately, which is to say either boning or sleeping. Keep your TV in the living room or make sure it is off at bedtime. Also, don’t the bed become the location for all night therapy discussions with your significant other. Both of these practices, and other non-sleeping activities, become associated with bedtime, and thus our brain is not prepared to sleep when we get under the covers.

Monitor your health

Consistently getting a good night’s sleep leads to better health, and good health can lead to better sleep, or not. If you are sick or injured, resting can obviously be difficult, but many don’t realize that even mild pain can send signals to your brain, fragmenting your sleep schedule. Take of nagging injuries and practice preventative measures like regular exercise to keep yourself pain free. Vitamins and prescription medicine can improve our health, but they may inversely affect sleep. If you can, take vitamins and pills early in the day to avoid giving yourself vivid dreams or inadvertently ingesting a stimulant.

Get the right equipment

There is a reason you don’t sleep in your childhood bed anymore, and it’s not because the race car frame isn’t totally cool. The mattress is too small, hopefully, for your adult body. Your bed should be sized to fit you and comfortable as well. If you awake with soreness every morning that wasn’t there when you went to bed, something might be amiss with your mattress or pillows. Don’t put up with it; test out mattresses and pillows of differing hardness and materials. Not all humans fit the same bed. Goldilocks taught us that.

Relax

Many people think that when you are exhausted, sleep comes naturally. How often, though, have you come home late from a long day at the office, wanting nothing more than to fall into bed and rest for 10 hours, yet when you actually reach the sheets, find it impossible to sleep? You need to calm your body down before it fall asleep. Take some time at night to relax, clear your mind, and prepare yourself for bed. The same goes for exercising at night. Take caution not to do it too close to bedtime as your body will be revved up from the activity, no matter how physically exhausted you feel.

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