How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

This article, ‘How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep’, was originally published in the ‘Healthy Living’ column of enVoyage, The Inflight Magazine of Eva Air.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Adequate, restful sleep is vital for your physical and mental health. It helps protect you from obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression and injuries due to dangerous driving.

Most adults need about eight hours of sleep each night, yet many people suffer from ongoing sleeping difficulties.

Although the occasional poor night’s sleep is unlikely to cause serious harm, you may sometimes need a few tips for banishing sleepless nights and getting some quality rest.

Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe simple lifestyle changes that can help you sleep better. Practice good sleep hygiene by:

  • Sleeping on a comfortable mattress that is not too soft, too firm or lumpy.
  • Not using your bedroom for watching television or working – your bedroom should be a quiet place associated with rest.
  • Invest in some thick curtains or blackout blinds if you are disturbed by chinks of light, especially in the summer months.
  • Use earplugs if your partner snores or if you have noisy neighbours.

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

You are more likely to sleep better if you establish a sleeping routine – go to bed at the same time each night. Get up at the same time every day, even at weekends, and avoid daytime naps.

Don’t eat a large, heavy meal immediately before bed or consume brain-altering substances such as alcohol, caffeine or nicotine close to bedtime.

Exercising regularly for at least 20 minutes each day may help you to sleep better, but don’t exercise before bed, this will make you feel more awake.

Try a warm bath, quiet reading, tai chi, yoga, meditation or other relaxing activities to help you wind down before bedtime. If you are stressed or worried, writing down your thoughts before you try to sleep can be a great help.

Help for Sleep Problems

If after about a month of practicing good sleeping habits, you have persistent sleep problems, you may wish to see your doctor.

Keep a sleep diary for about ten days before your appointment, noting the times you go to bed, fall asleep and wake up. Record your caffeine and alcohol consumption, exercise habits and daytime naps.

Your doctor may prescribe sedative medication or cognitive behavioural therapy, but you can explore complementary medicine as well.

Herbal remedies such as chamomile tea and valerian root, aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology, meditation, massage and light therapy are other potentially effective options.

What to Do if You Can’t Sleep

If you find yourself unable to sleep in the middle of the night, don’t panic. Worry and anxiety about not sleeping are likely to make the problem worse.

Instead of lying there wide awake, get up and do something else for about twenty minutes or until you begin to feel tired. Read a book, listen to some relaxing music, watch some television or have a milky drink.

Don’t forget that lying down with your eyes closed is still giving your body some much-needed rest.

Sleeping on Long Haul Flights

If you take regular long-haul flights and wish to sleep while you are in the air, try and book a window seat. This will ensure you are not disturbed by fellow passengers needing bathroom breaks, and you can wedge yourself against the wall with a pillow to make yourself more comfortable.

Fasten your seat belt over your blanket so flight attendants don’t have to disturb you.

Stow hand luggage in your overhead locker rather than under the seat in front of you to give yourself more room to stretch out, and don’t forget your eye mask and earplugs.

Kirby, S. (2013). How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep. enVoyage The Inflight Magazine of Eva Air.

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