get a better sleep

A good sleep is emerging as an important factor that reduces your risk of regaining lost weight.

Both the quality of sleep and the length of sleep matter. How can you improve your sleep?

tips to get a better sleep and trim your waist

I have read what the sleep science research suggests and here is my summary of what to do to get a good night's sleep.

The most benefit will come from building all of these 10 simple solutions into your life.

There is little point in trying one or two solutions and dismissing them because they didn't work when other factors may be at play.

You may have tried one or two of these before but now it is time to try all of them together.

Sleep is not going to improve overnight straight away so give it a few weeks and it will improve overnight.

top 10 simple solutions to improve sleep

  1. Remove and ban electronic devices and viewing screens from the sleeping space. No TV, big screen, phone, mobile devices, computers and e-readers. Tough request but your sleep will improve without these. Keep the bedroom exclusive for sleep. Sleep experts suggest no electronic devices or working one to two hours before bed. Last minute updates from social media like FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, ebay account, or emails and other internet searches are not healthy and damage sleep.
  2. Keep a quiet bedroom. Turn off noises in your control. Silence the smart phone's persistent pings and ring tones (ideally don't even have it in the bedroom either). Program the dishwasher, washing machine and pool vacuum to finish their cycles before your sleep time. Switch off the abrupt alarm clock (if you need an alarm, choose a tone from nature that starts soft and gently builds in volume). Ask noisy house mates to wear headphones to listen to their night-time music and movies. While you can not control the neighbour's barking dog, worksite construction, mowers and traffic noise, you can wear ear plugs to mute their damaging impact on your sleep.
  3. Darken the room to block out unnatural light. Light leakage from outside (footpath lights, traffic, other buildings) etches into your brain and ruins sleep quality. Lightweight curtains are no good. Invest in block out curtains that spread well beyond the window panes to block out external light. When heavy drapes are not an option, a comfortable eyemask is. An eyemask is great for when you are sleeping away from home.
  4. Turn off all lit objects in the sleeping zone. Even standby lights are disruptive and need to be turned off. Can't turn them off? Turn the lit side away from you. Can't turn them away? Stick something over the light to block it. Only the smoke alarm and essential medical devices (such as CPAP, dialysis,and nebuliser machines) need to be lit.
  5. Avoid heavy meals too close to bed time. Eating too late or too close to bed time takes away from a good night's sleep. The sleep is worsened more if you experience gastric  reflux or regurgitation.
  6. Tone down the stimulants. Caffeine, guarana, alcohol, some herbal teas. Caffeine and guarna can make it harder for you to fall asleep if you have either too close to bed time. Alcohol may make it easier for you to fall asleep but your sleep is likely to be lighter (easily disrupted) and you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning when the effects of alcohol wear off.
  7. Time your fluids and train your bladder so that the urge to visit the toilet doesn't hit during the middle of your sleep. Visit the loo before bed. Install a dim light in the toilet and bathroom so your eyes are not subject to a blast of bright light just before bed.
  8. Get outside to grab 30 to 60 minutes of natural sunlight each day to help keep your 'body clock' in sync.
  9. Build sleep into your daily planner until you have got a routine sorted out. Aim to go to bed at the same time each day and wake at a similar time each day. You have a one to two hour flexible window (go to bed or rise later some days, earlier others) but the point here is to be as predictable as you can and develop a consistent routine and pattern.
  10. Create a sense of security and safety. Anxiety doesn't help sleep. Look at security measures to add more certain protection such as deadbolts and prowler-proof screens or a trained dog. Not an option? Install small plug-in power socket sensor lights at entrances that sound off when someone crosses the beam. Connect a personal alarm alert system to the phone.

Put a high value on sleep.

    You may find a better sleep is something that helps you keep your body in better shape.


a special note about children's sleep

Kids of all ages need so much more sleep than adults. To find out how many hours of sleep kids need, look here.

Sleep-deprived kids are often grumpy, irritable kids who do not concentrate well and misbehave during the day.

Sleep-deprived kids are not necessarily sleepy during the day.

Aim to get the young children to bed at the same time early each night. A routine time is important for them and for you. Unfortunately teenagers have a slight shift in the body clock which sees them function better with a later bedtime and later wake-up call than school hours permit. You may need to rethink and tighten the morning breakfast routine to maximise their sleep time.

Let the toddlers, tweens and teens sleep in during the holidays and weekends. Treasure the quiet time you gain.


what to do if you can not sleep?

  • Avoid clock watching. It doesn't help you get back to sleep. This is another good reason to turn the clock face away from you.
  • If you've watched the clock or feel that 20 minutes has ticked by, get out of bed and relax until you feel sleepy again. Keep the lights dim. Avoid screen time on the TV, phone or computer. Late night viewing stimulates rather than relaxes the mind. Background screen lights and colours on mobile devices alert the brain rather than relax it. Screen time will not solve sleeplessness.
  • Don't eat. Some people eat when they can not sleep, for something to do, but eating too late prevents a good night's sleep. The exception here is if you are truly hungry having missed dinner.
  • Don't eat extra! If you rise early due to poor sleep you may decide to have an early breakfast. That is fine. Just watch out that you don't back it up with a second breakfast at the usual time just because it's brekkie time, not because you are hungry. Doubling up on breakfast may not help your waist and body weight.
  • Make up for some of the missed sleep with a 20-minute daytime nap.
  • Adjust the time you go to bed and rise by up to 2 hours to find your sweet sleep spot. Unless your work start time is flexible this is hard to achieve during week days.
  • Night owls have an added challenge because you can never catch up 100% on lost sleep on your days off or weekends. For the night owl who retires at 11 pm, add 7 to 9 hrs sleep takes you through to 6 to 8 am assuming you sleep the minute your head hits the pillow. Remember 7 hours is the bottom line. Given the chance in experimental situations, adults sleep on average 8 to 8.5 hours.
  • Speak with your doctor. There may be a medical explanation behind your poor sleep. Snoring, an irregular breathing pattern (apnoea), over active brain, restless legs, reflux, depression, anxiety, medications, pain ... the possible causes are many and best left to a medical doctor to work through with you if the simple solutions do not work.