You do it all, every day. You go to the gym in the evenings after work. You eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, drink 2 litres of water and go to bed at the exact same time at night, yet still you don’t seem to be getting the sleep you want and need.
“Strangely enough, many things we consider to be healthy – exercise and diet being the most significant – can in reality negatively impact our quality of sleep. It’s ludicrous that we don’t fully take into consideration such a vital component of living a wholesome lifestyle,” says Donovan Everitt, owner of Cape Town-based hand crafted mattresses company Attica Beds.
Here are a few weird things you can do that might improve your snooze life.
Don’t exercise before bed
One would assume that working up a sweat before bed puts you in a state of exhaustion and makes you hit the hay harder than the punching bag, right? Think again.
“Exercise increases your body’s temperature, putting it under the impression that it’s go-time,” says Donovan, himself an avid fitness fanatic. “Try to get your workout finished at least four hours before bed.”
And don’t shower or bath either
That is, don’t have a warm shower or bath before clocking in for the night, as doing so also raises your body temperature.
Conversely, having a cold stint under the tap before bed lowers your body temperature and makes you fall asleep quicker.
Don’t bother counting sheep
It’s repetitive, and often has no impact on tiring your mind or making you drift off.
“What actually works is either replaying your entire day in your mind, or forcing yourself to stay awake,” says Everitt. “The former quickly tires your mind and puts you in a daze, while the latter is basically reverse psychology – your mind will start battling you in your ‘quest’ to stay awake!”
Don’t trust technology
“The blue light emitted by your mobile phone, PC and television tricks your mind into thinking that it’s still daytime, which makes it believe that there’s no need for you to go to sleep.,” Donovan says.
Switch off at least three hours before bedtime, or consider investing in specialized special computer glasses that bounce off a lot of glare from electronic devices’ screens. Or consider reading; it makes you smarter and unwinds you before bed. Just make sure you’re reading from a book, mind.
Avoid naps and beware of coffee
Cut out the caffeine at least six hours before bed (yes, green tea also) and don’t bother taking a siesta. Both only succeed in giving you a short burst of energy, but make your body unable to fully shut down when it’s crunch time.
Also, ensure sure you’re sleeping comfortably; an uncomfortable, unsupportive bed is often the cause of poor sleep – if any sleep at all. “Sleeping isn’t a choice; we all deserve to get the best shut-eye that we possibly can,” Everitt points out.