The following five ways to sleep better are perhaps a little more subtle than the first five listed in part one of this article series. However, from my research and personal experience, I know the following can be just as important for both sleep quality and stress management .
Since everyone responds differently to these lifestyle habits, you might want to experiment with them yourself, even if you don’t have sleep issues. Pay attention to not only how well you sleep but how positive your mental outlook is when you wake up.
Sleep in a pitch black room if possible
Science News, October 1998, reported that even minimal amounts of light in the bedroom at night can not only lead to a chronic lack of sleep but can also diminish the effectiveness of the body's immune system, disrupt our melatonin levels and potentially increase our risk of developing cancer.
Thus, do whatever you can to get your bedroom as dark as possible, such as using room-darkening curtains. If you use a digital clock, turn it upside down before bed so you can’t see the display light. If all else fails, try eye shades or a sleep mask. Sounds unappealing, I know, but I’ve used eye shades on occasion and found them surprisingly comfortable..
Keep electronics away from your bedside
All forms of wired and wireless electronics emit an Electro-Magnetic Frequency (EMF), which studies have shown create significant amounts of stress in the body and do affect sleep quality. This is one of those bits of information that is not well known and sounds kind of kooky, but the research is substantial. Dr. Andrew Weill, MD, considers electromagnetic frequency as the greatest health risk of the 21st century.
Thus, it is wise to minimize the use of electronics in the bedroom, such as TVs, stereos, computers and clock radios. It is particularly important to keep all electronics away from your bedside, especially those near your pillow.
For example, I usually put my clock radio on the floor while I sleep so that the EMF waves are not close to my head. Better yet, move your clock to the other side of the bedroom. TVs or computers in the bedroom should also be unplugged at night.
Take magnesium or chamomile tea to calm nerves
Sometimes the nervous system is out of balance because of mineral or other nutrient deficiencies. Magnesium and chamomile tea are well known for calming nerves and helping to promote sleep.
The most effective way to take magnesium is in the form of a liquid ionic mineral or as a powder that can be made into a warm beverage. Both the magnesium drink and a good quality chamomile tea can be found at most health food stores.
Be in bed by 11 pm
I know many people like to stay up past midnight and sleep in late, either by preference or because their jobs require it. However, science has shown that the natural circadian rhythms of the body support sleeping at night rather than during the day. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the circadian clock within the control center of the brain is “set” primarily by visual cues of light and darkness.
Thus, staying up late and/or sleeping during the day will most likely have a cumulative stress effect on the body. Most doctors and sleep experts recommending going to bed before 11 pm and sticking with a regular sleeping routine.
Still the mind and forgive
One of the most effective ways to improve sleep quality is to practice a simple meditation of stilling the mind before going to sleep. You might want to try this simple routine or create your own.
When you lie in your bed at night, begin by focusing on your breath. Exhale completely and allow the breath to fill the belly, the diaphragm and then the chest area. Allow whatever thoughts you have to simply be there.
Watch thoughts pass through your mind as if you were an observer. If you are feeling emotionally uncomfortable in any way, realize that feelings are simply products of thoughts. You can choose to let them go.
A healing way to end the day with this routine is to also acknowledge all the things you’re grateful for and to practice forgiveness. I like to forgive myself and others for anything and everything that comes to mind, no matter who is responsible: “I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I am so sorry . . .” Part One.