By far the most important factor in feeling fit, healthy and happy is getting a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, of course, most of us don't. However, there are a few simple steps everyone can take which may at least help to alleviate the problem.
Setting the Mood
Sleep is generally controlled by a natural hormone known as melatonin. When it is dark, your body tends to produce more of this hormone and this is what makes you feel sleepy and ready to nod off. Therefore, the first step to setting the mood for sleep is to ensure your bedroom is suitably dark. And the darker your bedroom, the better quality of sleep you are likely to get.
Ensure you keep the TV and any computers out of the bedroom. Watching TV just before you turn in is just about the worst thing you can do as this will significantly stimulate your mind because of the flickering lights. It is far better is to read a book - preferably a boring one - and care should be taken not to use a backlit device at night such as an iPad. Use a separate light source instead.
The bed itself should never be neglected either. This is certainly not where you should be trying to save money, so if your old mattress is a bit hard and lumpy, or even too small, try to find a small double mattress sale and get something that is comfortable.
In addition, while it is never a good idea to be cold in bed, getting too hot during the night is a sure way to lose sleep. While the melatonin has its effect, so does your internal clock and if your body gets too hot your body clock will assume it is time to wake up and you will do just that. Keep your room at a reasonable temperature - use a thermostat if necessary - and don't cover yourself with too many layers.
Cut Out Caffeine and Alcohol
Naturally, too much caffeine late in the day is not conducive to getting a good night's sleep. If you are suffering from sleep-pattern problems, giving up caffeine altogether, or at least limiting yourself to just one cup of coffee in the morning, will be a wise move. In addition, while a glass or two of wine in the evening may make you feel sufficiently drowsy, too much alcohol in the bloodstream will be sure to give you a restless night. Far better is a cup of herbal tea such as camomile or cup of cocoa.
The Right Food
Avoid fatty foods or those that are high in protein. Instead, go for sleep super foods that are high in carbs but light, such as a bowl of cereal with semi-skimmed milk.
While exercise is essential for de-stressing, leaving you in the right state for a good sleep, specialists advise that exercise, especially if it is strenuous, is best done at least three hours before you sleep. If you are not used to exercise, the best thing to get you started is taking a short but brisk walk early in the evening. This will also have the added benefit of ensuring you get sufficient exposure to natural sunlight, which is another essential factor in getting good-quality sleep. Finally, when you get in take a hot bath for around twenty minutes if you can manage it.