Most of us love to sleep (guilty!), yet not many of us get nearly enough sleep at night. Chronic pain can cause poor and broken sleep, which adds to the exhaustion, pain, and not to mention the increase in stress and anxiety.
The National Sleep Foundation informs us that sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis, and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life. To get the most out of our sleep, both quantity and quality are important. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. Then we wake up less prepared to concentrate, deal with our pain, make decisions, or engage fully at work or during social activities.
So, what can we do to ensure a good night sleep?
An adult would need an average of 8 hours sleep at night, but sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. (Click here for a downloadable recommended sleep times chart.)
To get a good night sleep, follow these simple – yet effective – tips before you go to bed:
Avoid caffeine and switch off all your electronic devices. Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights – including those from electronic devices – interferes with our natural sleep/wake cycle.
Have a warm bath. When a tense body enters a warm bath, the muscles relax. Relaxing the muscles not only helps us relax physically, but also mentally, and many of us need that peace of mind at the end of the day.
Try Magnesium. Magnesium relaxes muscles and acts as a natural sedative – read about the benefits of Magnesium here.
Read a book. An actual book, not the electronic kind. A relaxing reading ritual can prepare your body for sleep and help your mind separate your sleep time from the stresses of daily living.
Stick to a sleep schedule, even on the weekends. This maintains the timing of the body’s internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily.
Exercise daily. Research has shown that exercising gives you more energy during the day and better sleep at night.
Brew a cup of chamomile tea. Also referred to as the ‘night-time’ tea, chamomile tea has mild sedative effects and is treasured for its ability to relieve insomnia and encourage a good night’s sleep.
Most importantly, make sleep a priority. You must schedule sleep like any other daily activity. But don’t make it the thing you do only after everything else is done – stop doing other things so you get the sleep you need.
(Note that although it is common to have a bad night sleep occasionally, but if you experience lack of sleep regularly, you may be looking at insomnia. In which case it’s important to go see your doctor as insomnia can also be due to other conditions.)
What helps you sleep at night?