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Tips to Improve Sleep

By Paul Rothbart

If there's one thing most of us crave but often don't get enough of, it's sleep. Busy schedules, obligations at work and home and to family and friends seem to take up every waking hour and make it difficult to transition into a state of solid sleep. Along with exercising and eating well, good sleep is essential to health. Weight gain, increased risk of disease and reduced brain function are all possible consequences of not getting a good night's sleep. But there are ways to improve the quality of sleep and our health.

Consistent Times to Go to Sleep and Wake Up

The body's circadian rhythm aligns with the sunrise/sunset cycle of nature to start and stop sleep. It responds best to consistency. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up each day at the same time helps the circadian rhythm to function optimally. Keeping these times even on the weekend will you fall asleep and stay asleep until the alarm. Studies have shown that inconsistent sleep times can alter melatonin levels as well as throw off the circadian rhythm. Melatonin tells the brain to shut down and brings on sleep. Just as adding exercise at a regular time each day promotes good health, so too does a regular sleep schedule.

Make Your Bedroom a Good Sleep Environment

It doesn't take much distraction to interfere with falling and staying asleep. Using good window shades and black out curtains will keep excess outside light from spilling in and disturbing sleep. The light from clocks, charging cell phones or other devices can all be quite distracting. Place these in other rooms or cover them to keep the room nice and dark. Temperature is another factor that can have a big impact. Most people sleep best in a room that is on the cool side. Trying to sleep on sweaty, sticky sheets is nearly impossible. Comfortable mattresses, pillows and sheets are other factors that can have a positive impact on good sleep. 

Shut Down Your Mind With Relaxation

Often the biggest obstacle to falling asleep is a brain that just won't shut down. Going over the course of the day and planning for tomorrow tend to occupy the mind. Relaxing the body can help to clear the mind and improve sleep. A hot bath right before bed is one way to achieve this state. Mediation or focused breathing exercises are other methods that can prepare both body and brain for sleep. Listening to peaceful music works very well for some people and then there is the old stand by of reading. A white noise machine can also be a boon to relaxation.

A good night's sleep is so important and yet eludes many people. By setting a regular schedule, optimizing the bedroom and relaxing the body and mind, we can improve the quality of sleep and our health.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Little Rock, Ark.

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