How to Rest, Relax and Get a Good Night’s Sleep

“I didn’t sleep well. I’m exhausted!’ How often do you say or hear those words? It seems everyone is tired, even children. Here are simple tips to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, sleep well and awake refreshed.

What to avoid eating before bed:

  • Caffeine products, about 6 hours before you go to sleep. This includes coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, soda and tea.
  • Sweets, especially refined sugar products, about six hours before you go to sleep.
  • Fruit and citrus products. They are high in sugar and hard to digest during when you are trying to get to sleep.
  • Fruit juice for the same reasons.
  • Salty snacks: cause you to be thirsty and not sleep well.
  • Heavy meals or large snacks; digestion keeps your body systems awake and active when you are trying to sleep.

Do eat or drink:

  • Small protein snacks before bed: cheese or peanut butter and crackers, carrots in a yogurt dip, low sugar yogurt or kefir.
  • Herb tea; chamomile is known to induce rest.
  • Warmed milk: generates tryptophan, a natural hormone which produces drowsiness and rest.
  • One 5oz glass of dry red wine can help you to sleep well also.
  • 8oz of water about an hour before bed to flush out your system before sleep.

Sleep Environment :

  • Run a warm moist air humidifier to help you breathe well.
  • Launder bedding every 2 weeks (you sleep better in a clean bed).
  • Spray sheets with Febreeze for a nice fresh smell (only if you have no allergies; otherwise, skip this step).
  • Make sure you have enough blankets to keep you warm while you sleep. Use lightweight comforters instead of heavy blankets which weigh you down and keep you from resting well.
  • Use at least 180 count thread sheets. These are much softer, less scratchy and don’t “pill”. Flannel and t-shirt fabric sheets are extremely comfortable.
  • Rotate and turn your mattress over every few weeks.
  • Choose a good mattress on a sturdy frame. A boxspring prolongs the life of your mattress and helps you sleep better.
  • Use the bed only for restful activities (not reading, working or watching TV). Your mind should equate bed with rest and sleep.
  • Sleep only in your bed. Don’t sleep on a couch, chair or floor.
  • Darken your room with blinds or curtains. Don’t sleep with lights on or near noisy areas. Require that the household keep the television or music on very low; better still, require headphones for after hours and late night TV and music


Sensory Relaxation:

  • Place a lavender-filled sachet on your eyes to soothe facial muscles and eye strain; the scent promotes rest also.
  • Play a CD with nature sounds such as gentle rain, crickets, or ocean surf.
  • Place a dish of fresh, fragrant blossoms or petals in a bowl near your bed. You can use scented oils also. Roses, lily-of -the-valley, lilacs and lavender are known for their soothing aroma.
  • Avoid heavy exercise before bed; this puts your body system in work mode.
  • Gentle yoga-type stretches will help your body to relax and decompress. Stretch facial muscles, hands, arms, feet, legs and back.
  • Place a warming pad on sore muscles for 15 minutes or so.

Mental Relaxation:

  • Avoid intense mental strain immediately before bed. After doing homework, paperwork or business give yourself 15 minutes at least (an hour is better) for unwinding. Read a restful book, draw or journal.
  • Avoid scary, intense and distressing books or television programs.
  • Avoid intense conversations before sleep.
  • Never try to problem-solve before sleep; agree to let issues cool.
  • For children, have bedtime rituals. We always make the sing of the cross and bless our kids. When they were young, we would tell them what animal they are in their nest (baby birdie, squirrel, etc.). Sing lullabies, Give back rubs. Read stories.
  • Put children to bed, don’t send them to bed. Kiss family members goodnight; tuck children in. End the day on a happy note, even if you had to scold them earlier.

Emotional relaxation:

  • Keep a journal handy. Jot down anything that you are afraid you’ll forget. This will ease your subconscious, which often ‘lies awake’ worrying.
  • Process negative feelings and experiences: anxiety, panic, fear, anger or grief. To process, write what happened and how you felt. Committing your pain to paper will help to neutralize it.
  • Do not chastise yourself. You can write out any guilt you may feel, but end on a positive note. Your poor brain will try all night to ‘work off’ any anxiety you hold on to. This causes troubled dreams and restlessness.
  • Review what you did that day, even if you just managed to get up and have a cup of coffee. Pat yourself on the back.

Be nice to yourself.

  • Treat yourself like your best friend. Encourage and uplift yourself.
  • Visualize the most restful place you can imagine and focus on that to get to sleep.
  • If you sleep with a partner, give each other a kiss and hug and a back rub if you can before sleep. These gestures release endorphins which are powerful relaxation hormones.

Sleep and rest are as important to your health as food and water. These techniques will ensure both for you. For more health tips, keep visiting my blog.

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