4 ways to improve your sleep

March is fun for a few reasons. For those into the various football codes, the season has or is about to start, the weather is getting cooler – providing you like the cooler weather – and daylight savings is coming to an end, which may be good, or bad, and our sleep cycles get all out-of-whack. It is out of my scope to advise on sleep issues but here are some tips I found recently on getting a better night’s sleep which I thought may be helpful.

We’ve all heard the standard ‘sleep hygiene’ tips about avoiding caffeine, using room-darkening shades, and going to bed at the same time every night. Here are a few other ideas that aren’t as well known.

Nap properly – Taking a nap during the day can be great for productivity and fabulous for health, but you’ve got to do it right. Aim to nap for 20 to 25 minutes, any longer than that and you’ll feel groggy when you wake up and you risk not being able to fall asleep when it’s bedtime. Be mindful of the temperature.

Take a warm (not hot) shower or bath – about an hour before bedtime, and keep your room cool at night. The drop in body temperature signals your body to calm so you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.

Turn off the electronics – Everyone has heard of this one. It’s the most important and the least followed piece of advice. Get an old fashioned alarm clock so you don’t need to use your phone. Turn your phone, iPad, Tablet, Kindle, or whatever you’ve got off, and put the devices in another room. Yes, a whole other room. You may think that a phone on silent and hanging out on your bedside table won’t disturb your rest, but it will – I’m guilty of it and have found myself tapping a screen to check the time, and worse, reading notifications, during the night. You can set your phone to “Do not disturb” mode, but I’m not sure if that is really helpful; it’s still there and puts your body on alert. It’s far too tempting to reach over and ‘just check a few emails’ if you do wake up in the middle of the night. Save yourself. Break this habit.

Get a massage – Massage can help with sleep issues. There have been several studies demonstrating the efficacy of massage in people with sleep problems, especially when treating secondary issues that may impair sleep, like back pain, pregnancy and migraines. I hope these tips help you get a better night’s sleep as I feel that this issue is so important for your wellbeing.