1. Make your bedroom a haven for sleep. Your room should be quiet and sufficiently dark, because darkness prompts the pineal gland to produce melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Heavy curtains can help keep the light out and a fan or white-noise machine can help drown out any annoying sounds.
Cool temperatures help you sleep, so set your air conditioner appropriately. For better air circulation, open a window or use a fan. If the air in the room is too dry, buy a humidifier.
2. Become a creature of habit. A nighttime routine can be effective in letting your body know when it’s time to sleep. Go through whatever rituals help you mentally prepare for sleep. (Read a few pages of a novel, spend 5–10 minutes on personal grooming, meditate, stretch.) And go to bed and get up at the same time each day—even on weekends.
3. Reserve your bed just for sleeping and sex. Avoid working, paying bills, reading or watching television in bed. If you associate your bed only with sleep, you’ll be more likely to fall asleep when you get under the covers for the night.
4. Tame your tummy. Going to bed either hungry or too full can really disrupt your sleep. Don’t have a big meal too close to bedtime or the digestion process might keep you awake. Also, if you lie down after stuffing yourself full, you can end up with gastric reflux—stomach acid backing up into the oesophagus.
If you’re hungry, have a snack that is rich in carbohydrates, which trigger the release of the brain chemical serotonin, which is associated with relaxation. Try a water cracker or a bowl of cereal. Pair it with some milk or a slice of turkey, both of which are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which also induces sleep.
5. Watch the caffeine. Too much caffeine throughout the day, even if it’s not consumed immediately before bedtime, can contribute to a fitful sleep. Once you hit 50, your metabolism slows down, so caffeine may stay in your system longer—up to 10 hours longer. Limit yourself to two cups of tea, coffee or cola per day, taken at least six hours before bedtime. If that doesn’t work, try cutting out caffeine altogether and only have decaffeinated drinks.
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