Sleeping is a fundamental aspect and practice in our lives, which allows us to live healthily, rest, stay energetic, perform at our best in our day-to-day lives, and maintain a positive state of mind.
However, many people suffer from sleep problems, such as insomnia (the most common sleep disorder), recurrent awakenings, or non-restorative sleep. But … how to sleep soundly? In this article, we will see different sleep hygiene guidelines that can help you rest better.
How to sleep soundly: 9 key ideas
Sound sleep, probably what we all want. Some people are very easy to do this, and others who do not (it also depends a lot on the time we are living in); This is a problem because the consequences of not getting enough rest wear a lot to both the health and the psychological skills that we use every day.
Sleep hygiene is a concept that encompasses all those measures aimed at making us fall asleep more easily and sleep better at night (more deeply and restoratively).
So how do you sleep soundly? Here you will find several very helpful sleep hygiene guidelines. As you will see, they are mainly focused on getting to sleep better in a natural way, which is related to deeper and more restful rest.
- Practice exercise
Exercise is one of the measures that are part of sleep hygiene techniques. Exercising improves your health, and it can also make you sleep more soundly. A key idea, in this sense, is to practice an exercise routine every day in the middle of the afternoon.
Exercises can vary from one person to another (in terms of intensity, difficulty, and types of exercises), depending on their physical condition and age. The important thing here is to establish a daily exercise routine that tires our body and that facilitates a more restful sleep at night.
Surely it has happened to you, the fact of spending a long time “without doing anything” (sports), and feeling inactive, without being in shape. And in these times, surely it has cost you more sleep (especially if you already had sleep problems). Instead, when we activate, our rest improves.
On the other hand, it should be noted at this point that exercise cannot be very close to bedtime (better before 8:00 p.m.) and that it should not be excessively intense (because hyperarousal would make it difficult for you to sleep and relax. ).
2. Don’t drink liquids two hours before going to bed
Many people who have insomnia, or who do not rest well, tend to get up repeatedly during the night; either because they are awake and do not want to be in bed, or because (and this reason is much more frequent) they have to go to the bathroom.
That is why the second key idea on how to sleep soundly that we propose is to avoid drinking liquids at least two hours before going to bed. This will help you not feel so bad about going to the bathroom, and it will prevent you from wiping out at night.
3. Avoid copious dinners
Another key idea about how to sleep soundly is directly related to eating, especially dinner.
If we eat very heavy meals (copious) and high in calories and fat, our digestive system likely has more difficulties digesting all this food, which in turn can cause you to feel discomfort during the night and to clear you up.
In this sense, we suggest that you opt for light dinners (for example, a salad with grilled fish), which will facilitate your digestion and can help you sleep better.
4. Avoid caffeine consumption
Caffeine is a substance that belongs to the group of xanthines, which awakens and activates us. Consuming it during the first half of the day does not have to cause us problems at night, but after approximately 6 p.m., we recommend that you do not consume this substance.
On the other hand, some people notice the effects of caffeine more (and that they last longer), so if it is your case, the idea is that you do not take this substance, or that you try to reduce its consumption as much as possible. And, in case you take it, better in the morning.
The effect of caffeine (which is also found in other drinks beyond coffee, such as some energy drinks) is antagonistic to the effect we need when we want to relax and sleep, so stopping consuming it can help you sleep better (and more deeply).
5. Avoid alcohol consumption
Another tip on how to sleep soundly is to stop consuming alcohol (or reduce its consumption to the maximum) since this substance is also closely related to the appearance of disorders during sleep (difficulties falling asleep, fragmented, and non-restorative sleep, etc.).
In the end, let’s think that everything we give to our body, which is “artificial”, will alter our natural functioning, which directly affects our quality of sleep.
6. Relax before going to sleep (techniques)
If your body is relaxed just before going to sleep, your sleep latency (the time it takes you to fall asleep) is more likely to decrease, and your sleep will be deeper and more restful.
Logically, you can fall asleep relaxed and wake up during the night, or do it and not sleep well (there are people and circumstances of all kinds), but promoting relaxation when you get into bed, along with other factors, can help you sleep better. In this sense, several techniques can help you relax :
- Take a hot bath before going to bed (it will relax your muscles in case they are sore).
- Put on relaxing music.
- Practice gentle yoga.
- Practice diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing.
7. Use the bed only to sleep
This strategy, which is also part of the basic measures of sleep hygiene, consists of empowering our brain to only use the bed to sleep, by using it only for this use (that is, avoiding eating in it, watching movies on it, work, do homework, etc.).
This key idea on how to sleep soundly will help you precisely to this, to sleep better, since your brain will more quickly associate the bed with sleep and with a state of relaxation. It is a mechanism based on classical conditioning (association of environmental stimuli and physiological responses).
8. Keep your room ventilated and with adequate temperature
It is a reality, the fact that heat can inhibit sleep. That is why it is recommended that you always keep the room ventilated, cool, and at a suitable temperature. You must feel comfortable and calm in it so that your body relaxes and associates these environmental conditions with sleep. Thus, all this configures another measure that can provide you with a good rest.
9. Control your mind
Finally, another guideline on how to sleep soundly has to do with controlling your thoughts.
Many people, when they go to bed, tend to systematically go over everything they have done during the day or everything they have to do tomorrow.
They may also be thinking about past, present, and future worries, or other types of thoughts that only generate anxiety and discomfort, and that makes it very difficult to fall asleep (which, in turn, can also harm a deep and restful sleep, although not always).
In these cases, we must learn to control our mind (hard task!), Through the practice of the following technique: simply, let your thoughts flow, do not repress them but do not stop on them or turn them over.
Here you can also apply, in a complementary way, breathing techniques and visualization of pleasant images, to help you connect the focus on something else and relax.