Make Sleep Your Best Friend

Last time we looked at the first two steps towards gaining great sleep:

  1. Start preparing for a decent sleep during the daytime, and
  2. Stop lying awake – it’s futile

Now for the next two steps.

  • Drinking to Relax Won’t Work!

Looking forward as you drive home from a busy day to sitting down and relaxing with a beer or glass of wine?

Alcohol can seem like a quick ‘fix’ or solution to stress.

It’s easy to lose the art of relaxing after dinner. If you find it dif­ficult to switch off and concentrate on things other than work, wired to your phone or emails, or making copious mental notes for the following day…. alcohol is not the solution.

In fact, alcohol actually irritates, inflames and erodes the stomach lining pro­ducing bloating. The stomach’s weakened protec­tive layer takes longer to digest foods and your digestive juices don’t extract valuable nutrients efficiently from food either.

Too much alcohol can also make you feel hungry, and you may find you eat more, which eventually makes you overweight.

But it is not just the way you feel—it is what you’re doing to your body and your sleep patterns if you rely on alcohol to relax.

Here are some hard and fast rules about alcohol, food, and relaxation to ensure restful sleep:

  • Cut out alcohol in the evening
  • Finish eating at least three hours before bedtime
  • Avoid intake of heavy foods like red meat which take a long time to digest. Eat lighter, more easily digested proteins, such as fish or chick­en, with lightly cooked vegetables and/or salad. Avoid chocolate, rich desserts, and stodgy puddings
  • Avoid falling asleep on the couch after dinner
  • Go to bed only when you’re sleepy. Take time to unwind by sitting quietly, reading a newspaper, light-weight book or magazine, or listen to calming, relaxing music

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“Sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow.”

– Tom Roth

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  • Turn Them Off!

Maybe you’re working on stuff on your laptop, surfing the internet on your phone, or watching TV late?

Seems harmless enough but sleep research shows that the glow from these de­vices causes sleep disorders—it disrupts the body’s sleep rhythms and suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland at night. It is a ‘timing mes­senger,’ signalling night-time information throughout the body. If you are exposed to light emitting devices at night you interrupt the sleep pattern by slowing or even halting melatonin production.

But melatonin suppression has far worse consequences than simply poor sleep.

It has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer, impair immune system function, and possibly lead to cardio-metabolic conse­quences, such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart disease.

Here are some basic guidelines to stop electronic devices from interfering with your precious sleep:

  • Turn off all electronic screens with blue light e.g. TV, laptop, smartphone, tablet about one hour before you plan to fall asleep
  • Wind down your body and brain. Spend the last part of the evening relaxing quietly. Reduce the lighting, too, to encourage melatonin production
  • Do not read, watch TV, work on the laptop, or check your smart­phone in bed. This zone of the house is for sleeping in, not living in
  • Don’t place any light-emitting devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, TV) anywhere near your bedroom.  Put phone on aeroplane mode at night, if need be
  • Use an analogue clock (not digital or your smartphone) to stop clock watching

Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Following a regular sleep routine calms and restores the body, improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens judgment and decision-making. You are a better problem solver and are better able to cope with stress when you’re well-rested.

NOTE: Are you finding you’ve always got things to do and you seem to easily get overwhelmed? Or you plan to do something and then you don’t do it? Are you wondering how you’ll ‘fulfill your potential’ when it seems like you keep getting in your own way all the time?

Maybe it’s time to take action, that first step towards accountability so you don’t miss doing those important things in your life and work… check out this wonderful support system below and in no time you’ll be back in control of you and your day:

Linda Wells is a Mindset Expert, Business Success Strategist and Accountability Mentor.