Posted May 31, 2013

Here’s a tried and tested nine-step guide to a good night’s rest after a tough day at work

Scented pillowcase

According to a National Sleep Foundation study, 75 per cent of people sleep soundly in fresh-smelling, recently laundered sheets. In fact, you can enjoy the same benefits by changing your pillowcase as often as you can, and perfuming it with a mild scent like lavender. Experts suggest mixing 25 drops of lavender essential oil with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Give your sheets two quick pumps before you curl up.

Hide the clock

It’s completely normal to wake up slightly, but then quickly drift off several times every night. It’s part of a healthy sleep cycle and something that you don’t normally even realize is happening. But reading the time on a clock sends a wake-up call to your brain, leaving you wide awake and wondering how you’ll get back to sleep.

Eat slowly

A study conducted at a British University suggested that people suffering from heartburn were 50 per cent more likely to wake up repeatedly during the night. Since their night time reflux was so mild that it didn’t causing a strong burning sensation, they had no idea that stomach acid was the culprit for insomnia. You can cut your risk of sleep-sabotaging indigestion if you spend half hour enjoying your dinner, instead of polishing it off in 15 minutes.

Drink passion flower tea

Sipping on passionflower tea in the evenings, can double your ability to drift off without a struggle. This herb is a natural muscle relaxant, which increases your brain’s production of serotonin — a hormone that calms a racing mind and relieves insomnia-triggering anxiety.

Watch your bladder

Try spacing out your daytime bathroom break by waiting at least 20 minutes after you feel like running to the loo. Your bladder will fill up a little more — but not too much — so the nerves surrounding your bladder get desensitized and are less likely to trigger sleep-sabotaging muscle spasms at night.

Make a list

Cultivate a habit of writing down the day’s goals each morning — then cross them off as you accomplish them. Research says, being aware of how much you actually get done each day eases night-time anxiety, and that helps at least one in five women sleep more soundly. Keep a notepad and pen beside your bed so that you can spend 10 minutes scribbling all your worries. If you think this activity of bedtime venting will lead to a sleepless night, studies suggest, jotting notes initiates production of dopamine, a calming hormone that dials down feelings of stress and restlessness.

Up your mineral intake

Medical experts advise taking 400 to 500 milligrams of calcium (and the same amount of magnesium) half an hour before sundown help you to fall asleep easily and wake up refreshed. These essential minerals lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax tight muscles, soothe jangled nerves and increase the amount of time you spend in the restorative, slow-wave stage of sleep. This mineral duo also curbs the nighttime leg cramps that may wake you up.

Shades in the evening

Reducing your light exposure as the day wanes encourages your brain to increase its production of melatonin (the hormone that’s essential for deep, restorative sleep). So, if it’s sunny and you’re heading out to do errands after 4 pm, wearing your sunglasses could increase your bedtime sleepiness by 20 per cent.

However, remember to keep your shades off if you’re heading outside early in the mornings as a brief morning blast of sunlight resets your brain’s biological clock, making you feel more energetic during the day, and sleepy at night.

Times of India

© 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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