In search of lost sleep: 5 tips to sleep better and defeat insomnia
It happens to everyone, at least once in their life, not to be able to fall asleep. To turn around, walk the length and breadth of the house, go back to lean on the pillow but nothing, no matter how tired you are.
Hours staring at the ceiling, falling asleep on the sofa and waking up after a couple of hours, groggy and unable to get back to sleep once you get to bed, having troubled dreams, waking up sweaty and heart pounding.
If it comes to once, it can happen; but if it becomes a habit, and if you are unable to fall asleep despite tiredness, then the lack of night’s rest can become a problem for your health.
In fact, sleeping well is an essential condition for the quality of life: it helps to keep fit, to prevent heart attacks and diabetes, improves memory and much more.
What factors affect the quality of our sleep?:
There are several factors that affect the quantity and quality of sleep: environmental conditions and lifestyle, bad habits and ubiquitous technology (smartphones and tablets in bed), the rhythm of cities (noise and light pollution), increasingly extended hours of modern work. These and others are all conditions that affect our sleep.
Researchers have identified a number of practices and habits known as ‘sleep hygiene’, which are useful for improving your way of sleeping and optimizing your sleep.
Tips for better sleep: habits to follow during the Day:
Maintain the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle: Try going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day. Try to avoid sleeping late on weekends: if you need to compensate for a night when you have been late, opt for a nap during the day. To help your circadian rhythm, try to expose yourself to sunlight in the morning: you can drink your coffee outdoors or have breakfast in front of a bright window. Try to spend as much time as possible outdoors during the day, perhaps walking or doing some movement. Let natural light enter your home or office as much as possible. If necessary, you can use a light therapy box, which simulates the natural effect of the rising sun and which can be particularly useful during short winter days. Playing music can help you in getting better sleep
Avoid nicotine, alcohol and coffee: at least starting in the early afternoon. Nicotine and caffeine stay arousing for several hours and can ruin sleep. Avoid large meals before bed and don’t eat at night. Prefer a light dinner with foods that are easy to digest, trying to avoid spicy or acidic foods, which can cause problems and heartburn.
Move a little every day: Exercising regularly helps you sleep better and increases alertness levels throughout the day. Even the mildest physical exercise, such as walking for only 10 minutes a day, improves the quality of sleep. Exercise speeds up metabolism, raises body temperature and stimulates hormones such as cortisol. However, avoid physical movement in the hours before going to bed: better in the morning or late afternoon. Relaxing, low-impact exercises, such as yoga or stretching, can help promote sleep when done in the evening.
Use grandma’s remedies: Ancient remedies always work! If you have trouble falling asleep, a warm bath can help you take an hour or two before bedtime. A hot bath or shower before going to bed relaxes the respiratory muscles and mucous membranes and helps to induce a peaceful sleep. Another very useful traditional remedy is to drink a glass of warm milk before going to sleep. As it is rich in tryptophan, which is the amino acid precursor of serotonin, milk can be of great help for those who have difficulty falling asleep. If you don’t digest milk, opt for an herbal tea, which helps you sleep and gently promotes relaxation. The most suitable plants are lemon balm, passion flower, linden which facilitate sleep by supporting the neurovegetative sphere, or hawthorn and Roman chamomile, perfect if you also suffer from anxiety.
Create an evening ritual before going to bed: You can read a few pages of a book (perhaps avoiding thrillers or horror!), Meditate or listen to relaxing music: these habits will warn the body that it is time to go to to sleep. The ritual can last from ten minutes up to a maximum of one hour: in this way it will help you to move from the waking state to sleep in a gentle and gradual way.