In an earlier article this month, we began to discuss some key tips and tricks we recommend will help you improve your sleep. Here, we continue that discussion.

Top tips for a good night’s sleep continued:

Lower the light level in your home at night.
Turn off the TV, laptop, iPad, mobile phone and anything else that emits bright light. Use lamplight, candlelight or a dimmer switch to lower the light level in your environment.

The intensity of light is the primary trigger for secretion of melatonin. Bright lighting tells your brain it’s still daytime, keeping levels of the alertness hormone cortisol too high, while pushing down levels of sleep-inducing melatonin. A good old-fashioned book, read by lamplight, will help you go to sleep, but the light emitted by an e-reader or anything else with a backlit screen, will keep you awake.

Eat magnesium-rich foods throughout the day
Magnesium is good for your nervous system and it’s a muscle relaxant. It’s found in abundance in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Avoid eating an evening meal based on animal protein, with little to no carbohydrate: this blocks the uptake of tryptophan, which is converted into melatonin, into the brain.

Plant protein sources such as legumes (lentils and dried peas and beans), supply both the tryptophan and the carbohydrate needed to speed its passage through the blood-brain barrier, ensuring you’ll have enough melatonin production to drop off and stay asleep.

Use the bedroom only for sleep
… not for watching TV, talking on the phone, surfing the web or texting!

Make your bedroom as dark, cool and quiet as you can.
Overheating stops you from going to sleep and aggravates restless legs syndrome (as does caffeine). Light (including rays emitted from digital displays such as clock radios) and noise also hinder sleep.

Wind down and relax before bedtime
Take a warm bath with lavender and clary sage oils added. Avoid watching or reading violent or disturbing material, and do a relaxation technique in bed with the lights out, even if you’re already sleepy – this helps relax your mind and body, ensuring that you’ll fall asleep quickly and easily.

Repeat the technique if you wake during the night.

Don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy.
But don’t do stimulating activities at night just because you’re not tired. Instead, choose relaxing activities, such as gentle yoga, light reading or craft.

If you can’t get to sleep after 20 minutes in bed, get up, go to another room and do something relaxing e.g. listen to relaxation music, do gentle yoga or tai chi, or read using a low light source, until you feel sleepy. Repeat the muscle relaxation technique when you get back into bed.

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