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Martes, 1 de Marzo de 2016

Counting Sheep, and Some Other Ideas on How to Switch Off

It happens to everyone. You’re lying in bed, waiting for sleep to come, and… It doesn’t. Concerned by this, you try harder to go to sleep, yet you cannot. Before you know it, you’re stuck in a vicious circle: you know you must, somehow, switch off - that you have to be up in the morning, that life is busy, that there are lots of things you must accomplish during the day - yet the harder you try, the more elusive rest becomes.

Sleeping well is extremely important for a host of reasons, not least of them general well-being. But worrying over your sleeping habits can also cause unnecessary stress: those who feel that they’re not getting enough sleep can so easily fall into this kind of circle, and that in itself becomes a problem.

There are countless hints and tips out there regards a good night’s sleep, and most people have their own theories and ideas over what works well for them. Some of these things are fairly obvious: sticking to a sensible routine, cutting down on caffeine, doing plenty of exercise - not only physical, but mental - eating well and not too late, and staying away from alcohol before bed (which is known to impair deep sleep)… All have been scientifically proven as beneficial in helping you nod off. But what about when you simply don’t have enough time to exercise; when you’re busy and cooking something healthy isn’t an option; when a glass of wine is just what you fancy after a long day?

Life throws us surprises; that’s the beauty of it. But it can mean disruptions to a daily routine, no matter how hard you try to keep one going. Smartphones and electronic devices are ubiquitous in modern society, and for all their positive aspects, they constitute yet another distraction that keeps us from turning in for the night. Here, then, are some other ideas that may help you drift off for the night, and improve not only the quantity, but the quality of your sleep, too…

-Think in Cycles

A normal sleep cycle - which takes in both light and deep sleep, which is when dreaming occurs (also known as Rapid Eye Movement, or REM) - lasts for about 90 minutes, repeating over the course of the night. Waking during deep sleep can lead to feelings of tiredness that persist throughout the day, so ideally you want to wake at the end of a sleep cycle, when you’ll be feeling refreshed. (This is perhaps the reason why sleeping in can ultimately make you feel more tired.) So, bearing in mind that the average human takes about 15 minutes to fall asleep, try to time your waking up by tracking back in roughly 90-minute slots from that point.

-Tidy Up and Keep Things Dark (Until They’re Light)

Tossing and turning in an unmade bed in a room which is a mess is no good for anyone; take some time to ensure that your bedroom is a place you associate with relaxation, sleeping and comfort, and the mere act of getting into bed will condition your body into switching off for the night. Try to keep it tidy, and, in the evening, dark… But open the curtains as soon as you wake up; even if it seems painfully bright, getting as much natural sunlight as you can during your waking hours will help when it comes to your sleeping ones.

-Count Sheep (Or: Breathe Deeply, and Do Whatever Works)

Counting sheep may seem like a vaguely ridiculous idea, but it’s still strongly preferable to trying to force yourself to sleep. In fact, more or less anything is better than that: try counting back from a thousand in multiples of three, and see how far you get; read a book (an old fashioned, paper one); breathe deeply, in and out, and focus on trying to slow your rhythm down - something that will happen naturally when your body finally does turn in for the night.

If, after all that, sleep still hasn’t arrived, get up and do something quietly constructive in another room for a few minutes - fold some sheets, or prepare what you’re going to wear the following day. Try to resist turning anything on or reaching for your mobile before returning to bed, where hopefully a good stretch of shut-eye awaits.

Sleep is important, but don’t stress over it. Whether you’re a night owl or early riser, do whatever works. Good luck, and sweet dreams!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUcKeKt8C1k

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