Improve Sleep Patterns and Delay the Ageing Process

“Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,” as Shakespeare puts it, is for most people an absolute necessity.

The quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight.

Scientific evidence suggests that too little or erratic sleep can be linked to longevity-shortening diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, increased risk for weight gain, depression.
A man’s lifespan may shorten because of a lack of sleep, says a study reported in the medical journal Sleep.

However, many people have occasional difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. As a result, they wake still tired and unrefreshed and then may feel sleepy and unable to concentrate all day. If you always have this problem and are being treated with medication for a medical condition, you should consult your physician. Many medications cause drowsiness as a side effect. This may be treatable by using a smaller dose or another medication.

To help improve the quality of your sleep, try the following:

Do not eat or drink anything containing caffeine from 6-8 hours before you go to bed. This includes coffee, tea, colas and chocolate. Caffeine can affect you up to 12 hours after ingesting it and it may be disrupting your sleep patterns.

Don’t drink alcohol in the evening. The old-fashioned “night cap” is a bad idea. Alcohol makes you feel sleepy at first, but later it will cause you to awaken during the night. The night’s sleep may appear to begin well but will end in restlessness and wakefulness.

Don’t smoke. Nicotine will make you more alert so you won’t fall asleep readily. It may also cause you to suffer from nightmares and have problems waking up. It’s a good reason to stop smoking.

Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning. This will allow your circadian (internal) clock to keep your sleep cycle regular.

Exercise do’s and don’t’s:
Don’t exercise just before going to bed – it will make you both warmer and more alert, both of which will prevent you falling asleep.
Do finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime.

Make your bedroom into a sleep inducing environment.

Your bedroom should be:
Cool, if your bedroom is too hot, adjust the temperature
Humid enough for breathing comfort without being damp. You may have to use a humidifier or dehumidifier to attain the best level of humidity.
Comfortable. Is your mattress giving you proper support? Or is it time to purchase a new one? Be sure that your pillows are comfortable and are the right size for you.

Distraction free. In a noisy environment, you may need ear plugs or a “white noise” generator.

Association specific. Use your bed for sleeping and sex only. Do not read or watch television in bed.

Allergy free. If you have allergies, try to avoid them.
Do not use feather pillows
Dust and vacuum regularly to keep down dust and dust mites.
Wash all bedding frequently.
Place dust mite proof covers on your mattress and pillows.

Relax before bedtime and try to establish a pattern to follow every night. This will tell your body that it is nearly time to go to sleep and make it easier to fall asleep. Avoid working or any other stressful or tension causing activity late in the evening.

Avoid eating heavily before going to bed.
Do not eat foods which may cause heartburn.
Restrict fluids as bedtime approaches to avoid middle-of-the-night bathroom visits.
Warm milk or a caffeine-free herbal tea may help some persons to sleep.

Do not nap during the day, unless you need a short nap of about 20-30 minutes to maintain alertness.

If you do not fall asleep within 15-20 minutes after going to bed, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.

After a few weeks you may realize that what seemed a problem may actually be nearer normal sleep patterns than you thought. Remember, not everyone needs eight hours of sleep every night; some people need fewer while others need practically none at all.

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