The sleep hacks that you need, from cold show­ers to warm socks

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HEALTH - By RICHARD JONES

Do you feel like a walk­ing zom­bie around the of­fice to­day? Crav­ing just one pre­cious mo­ment of rein­vig­o­rat­ing sleep? Well, help is at hand. US Sci­en­tists have found that hav­ing a pur­pose in life could see you im­prove your sleep qual­ity and have fewer night­time dis­tur­bances.

The new study, which was pub­lished in the jour­nal Sleep, Science and Prac­tice, found that of the 823 peo­ple be­tween the ages of 60 and 100 sur­veyed, 63 per cent were less likely to have sleep ap­nea if they reporting hav­ing mean­ing in their lives.

Find­ing mean­ing in your life is just one of many tricks in the play­book when a full nights sleep is re­quired. Be­fore you reach for the sleep­ing tablets, try some of these other sleep­ing hacks.

Warm Socks

Hu­mans are en­dotherms, which means that we can reg­u­late our own body tem­per­a­ture and make sure all our or­gans are work­ing at the right tem­per­a­ture. Our big­gest drop in body tem­per­a­ture is when we sleep. Our feet con­tain cer­tain blood ves­sels that are de­signed to dis­si­pate body heat.

That’s enough of the science stuff — how does this help you get to sleep? If you’re cold, pop some socks on and cut off the blood ves­sels that are chuck­ing away your vi­tal body heat. If you’re hot — more likely, dur­ing these sticky, wor­ry­ingly sweaty sum­mer months — just pop your feet out from un­der the du­vet. Job done.

Sleep away from your phone

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Deloitte re­leased last year, peo­ple in the UK have never been so ad­dicted to their smart­phones. But are you re­ally go­ing to be scrolling through Face­book while your eyes are closed? Come on, that cute dog video re-post can wait till the morn­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2014 re­port by Of­com, eight out of 10 of us keep our mo­bile phones on next to us — but the blue light emit­ted from our smart­phones has a stim­u­lat­ing ef­fect, much like sun­light, mak­ing it hard for us to switch off.

If you use your mo­bile as an alarm just pop it in your bath­room, or the kitchen. And don’t use it 30 min­utes be­fore you plan to sleep. In­stead, make your­self a cup of herbal tea (caf­feine free, natch) and open a book; maybe you’ ll learn some­thing as well as wak­ing up all pre­pared to take on that anx­i­ety-in­duc­ing 9am meet­ing.

We’ve all been there — thrust wide awake by a sud­den han­ker­ing for a large slab of cheese and some slices of ham squashed into a crunchy baguette. Mouths are drool­ing with just the thought of it — but put the ham away, as high-fat foods can leave your di­ges­tive sys- tem whirring while the rest of your body bat­tles to get to sleep.

Con­versely, high in mag­ne­sium foods like avo­cado or mixed leaves could have a pos­i­tive ef­fect, with re­search show­ing mag­ne­sium im­proved the qual­ity and length of sleep in in­som­ni­acs.

Ideally, you want to leave two hours be­tween your last munch and that all im­por­tant bed time.

Prep for the day ahead

A lot of those anx­i­ety-build­ing thoughts that are pre­vent­ing you from get­ting to sleep are due to to­mor­row’s sched­ule. Gary Zam­mit, PhD, direc­tor of the Sleep Dis­or­ders In­sti­tute in New York, sug­gests es­tab­lish­ing a nightly rou­tine to help shift your brain into sleep mode and pre­pare for the com­ing day.

So, get a head­start and or­gan­ise your­self. Make your lunch, get your bag ready and lay our your clothes for the next day. Your fu­ture self will thank you for it.

Find some in­ner peace

A 2015 study, by the Univer­sity of Mas­sachusetts Med­i­cal School, showed that 58pc of in­som­niac par­tic­i­pants were able to get a bet­ter night’s rest from hav­ing med­i­tated. It’s not a shock to find that most rest­less nights are caused by stress, so any­thing that can help with sooth­ing our daily is­sues is bound to pro­duce re­sults.

Med­i­ta­tion is also able to ac­ti­vate our au­to­nomic ner­vous sys­tem, which helps with our di­ges­tion and breath­ing. There are plenty of in­struc­tional guides on YouTube that di­rectly tar­get those look­ing to med­i­tate them­selves to sleep. Give them a try and you may also see some ben­e­fits else­where in your life.

Cold Shower

It’s no news to any­one when we say it has been Hades lev­els of hot re­cently. Re­mem­ber from the socks, our body tem­per­a­ture nat­u­rally drops when we fall asleep. But, it’s tricky when we’re too busy sweat­ing our guts out thanks to this un­holy warmth.

So, take a cold shower at the start of the nightly rou­tine. It’ ll drop your body tem­per­a­ture, trick­ing the old nog­gin into think­ing that you’re ready for sleep. Ta-dah!

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

When all you want to do is get to sleep, we’ve got the tricks to help you.

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