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If you have ever tried to get a baby to sleep — either your own child or maybe one that you were babysitting — you have seen firsthand how important a predictable routine is to inducing slumber. Most kiddos do very well with a sleepy time schedule that typically includes a warm bath, a story or two and being tucked in with a favorite stuffed animal.
If you are finding that your quality of sleep is not what it should be, it’s time to return to the days of youthful yore and create a predictable and relaxing nighttime routine — while also looking for nocturnal culprits that might be interfering with your snooze. For example, these tips will help you get those much-needed forty winks:
Put your screens to bed extra early.
While many people like to catch up on their emails, check out social media sites and visit different websites as a way to unwind in the evening, these screen-based activities have been found to interfere with our ability to get to sleep. Try to set your mobile phones and/or tablets aside a few hours before your bedtime, and find other relaxing activities to do instead. For example, if you love puzzles, instead of tackling a certain candy-based app on your phone, try some good old-fashioned paper and pencil brain teasers. BusyTeacher.org features free and fun printable puzzles that you can personalize.
Try a warm bath.
When you soak in a warm bath or spend a short amount of time in a hot tub or spa, the action of your body temperature rising and then rapidly dropping back down afterward will naturally cause you to relax. The key is to enjoy the bath two hours or so before bed and to stay in the water for about 20 minutes; if you can raise your body’s temperature by about two degrees, the subsequent natural drop in temperature can help you get into a nice deep sleep.
Give yoga a try.
If you find that it’s difficult to relax at bedtime, focusing on calming activities can really help. For example, deep breathing exercises, meditation and/or yoga can help to relax your body and mind and get you ready for sleep. As Livestrong notes, focus on calming and cooling yoga poses that won’t over stimulate your body; for instance, forward bends and baby back bends, seated twists and the reclining bound angle pose can all help relax your spine and detoxify your system so it will drift off easily to sleep.
Look for sleep robbers and eliminate them.
In addition to following a sleep-inducing nighttime schedule, put on your figurative detective hat and look for environmental reasons for your sleep issues. For instance, notes Sleep Foundation, establish a predictable sleep and wake schedule — even on the weekends — and avoid those beloved cat naps that you take in the afternoon. Also, make an honest assessment of your room; it should be kept on the cool side, around 60 to 67 degrees, and it should be as quiet and dark as possible. You might want to invest in blackout curtains and/or a sleep mask, and if your partner snores or you share your bed with a noisy dog who tosses and turns at the foot of the bed, consider getting ear plugs or investing in a white noise machine.