Eight Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

by Dr. Sharon Ufberg

What could be better than to roll into bed at night and fall effortlessly fast asleep? Waking up refreshed and rested after a peaceful night’s sleep is one of life’s great joys.
But many of us are over-stimulated day and night by a world fully loaded with light, electronics and noise. We need to pay attention to the ways we can wind down at night and prepare for that good night’s sleep that we all need and deserve.
So here are some of my best tips to help you sleep better, starting tonight:
1. Turn off all your electronic buddies at least 30 minutes before you want to go to bed. Unplugging yourself from your computer, TV and Smartphone is one of the easiest and best ways to begin your bedtime ritual.
2. Create a bedtime ritual. Start by setting a time to go to sleep that you can stick to on most nights. After you turn off your electronics, do something you enjoy that separates your evening from your hectic day. Take a bath, read, listen to music or prep for your morning routine—these are all good ways to begin the process of winding down to get ready for bed.
3. De-clutter and darken your bedroom. Make your bedroom a comfortable place to sleep by creating a space of serenity and peace. Piles of clothes or stacks of papers don’t belong here. Avoid bright electronics such as televisions or alarm clocks facing your bed and keep the lights low. Block excess outdoor light with curtains, an eye mask, and a closed door.
4. No aerobic exercise several hours before your bedtime. Strenuous exercise is stimulating so you want to avoid waking yourself up right before you want to calm it down. A leisurely walk around the block or some yoga stretches can be relaxing but don’t overdo it too close to bedtime.
5. No large quantities of food or drink. If you want to try and avoid a trip to the bathroom during the night, then reduce your fluids as nighttime approaches. Feeling too full or too hungry is also not optimal for an easy transition into sleepy time. A small, healthy snack or cup of chamomile tea an hour before bedtime is fine. Always keep away from caffeinated drinks after dark if you want any chance of a restful night’s sleep.
6. Get into bed only to sleep. Never watch TV, surf the internet or play hours of video games while in bed. A few minutes of reading, doing a crossword puzzle, knitting or doing another activity that shifts your brain away from your daily work is an acceptable transition to sleep while in bed, but limit your activity time to no more than 30 minutes before lights out.
7. Invest in comfortable bedding. The right mattress firmness, pillow fluffiness and sheet thread count is just a matter of opinion. Picking out what feels good to you is what’s most important—but if you have back problems, check with your chiropractor for special advice. Before buying a new mattress, go and try them out, you will know which one feels right for you. Your bedding is the best place in your home to indulge yourself.
8. Check with your doctor if you take prescription drugs. If you are having sleepless nights and take medication for high blood pressure, depression or asthma, or regularly take antihistamines, anti-psychotics or diuretics, you may be disrupting your sleep and need to inform your doctor and try something else. Simply adding a sleeping pill to your regimen as a quick fix is not recommended.
Fortunately, the Napa Valley is a perfectly quiet and peaceful place to get a good night’s sleep. Add in a few of these sleep tips and you will be sawing zzz’s in no time. Sweet dreams!

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