NETfacts: Self-care

12 Secrets to a Deeper Sleep

Sleep – we all need it, we all enjoy it, and whether you need 10 hours a night or six hours, we all need a good sleep to stay healthy. If you spend your nights tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling because you can’t relax, or have a partner who keeps you awake, try these 12 sleep secrets to having a longer lasting, deeper sleep.

1. Ban Gadgets from the Bedroom
Computers, TVs and other gadgets are distracting and should be kept out of the bedroom. The blue light that emits from screens and monitors will disrupt melatonin (the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle) production and interfere with sleep.

2. Use Dim Lights
As bright light stimulates wakefulness, try using dim lighting as bedtime approaches. If you need to get up during the night, use a low-watt flashlight or have night lights on during the night to avoid turning on brighter overhead lights.

3. Use Familiar Scents
Any scent that makes you feel safe and comfortable will help you to sleep better (one of my favourites is vanilla).  New smells tend to make you more alert – even those known for relaxation, like lavender.  If you travel, pack an article of clothing with your spouse’s scent on it – it will go a long way to help you sleep better on the road!

4. Find the Right Mattress
It would seem that Goldilocks had it right when finding the right bed to sleep on – a mattress that’s not too hard and not too soft is preferred by most.

5. Be Careful With Pain Relievers
If you require a pain reliever before going to bed, you may want to check the label – it could contain caffeine, which can keep you awake.

6. Turn on a Fan
We wait all winter to be able to open the windows at night and enjoy the summer breeze, but if you have a dog, this can make them more sensitive to outside noises like other dogs barking or neighbours coming home late and if your dog is barking, you are not sleeping! Try using a fan or white-noise machine to drown out the outside noise and keep you and your pet asleep.

7. Get Your Own Sheets
In a perfect world, you would go to bed, fall asleep and not wake until the next morning. But let’s face it, we all have a partner who tosses and turns and takes the sheets and blankets with them until you are left with none. One way to solve this issue is for each of you to have your own – have a sheet and/or blanket on each side of the bed so when one tosses and turns their sheet off the bed, you’re still left with yours!

8. Communication Matters
“For a man, how he slept the night before predicts the quality of his interactions with his spouse the next day. For a woman, how she interacted with her spouse that day affects how she’ll sleep that night.” (Just another example of how men are from Mars and women are from Venus!)

Wendy M. Troxel, assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Sleep Medicine Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

9. Switch to a Feather Pillow
If you have allergies, you may want to switch to a feather pillow, which tend to be encased in a tightly woven fabric that keeps dust mites out. Very few people are allergic to feathers and foam can make allergies worse due to its moisture content.

10. Have a Cup of Tea
Enjoying a cup of Camomile tea before bed is gently relaxing and a great way to wind down after a long and stressful day.

11. Treat Your Feet
Soak your feet in cold water with some Epsom salts or bath oils, dry them vigorously with a towel and then give them a massage (use lotion for added benefit). This will stimulate the 72,000 nerve endings in your feet and help your nervous system relax. Not only will you sleep better, but your feet will look and feel better too!

12. Practise Deep Breathing
If your breathing is calm, so will your mind. While lying in bed, try the following breathing pattern for two minutes to help you relax:  inhale for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, pause for four seconds and then repeat.

Sleep tight and sweet dreams self-care lovers!

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