Good sleep is one of the best free investments you can make in yourself. I spent much of last year on a quest for improved sleep, and eventually found it. Here's how.
In The Owner's Manual for the Brain, Pierce J. Howard summarizes sleep research with the following lists:
To get to sleep more quickly:
- Consume dairy products (the warmer the better).
- Avoid artificial sweeteners.
- Avoid food additives.
- Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
- Keep to a regular bedtime.
- Consume carbohydrates and fats; avoid protein.
- Read or view unexciting material.
- Avoid exercise within four hours of bedtime.
- Sleep in absolute darkness and complete silence.
- Take melatonin.
To get better quality sleep:
- Lose weight.
- Avoid alcohol within four hours of bedtime.
- Drink water after alcohol consumption.
- Plan sleep according to sleep cycles and circadian rhythms.
- Do aerobic exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime.
To get back to sleep after waking:
- Write down what's on your mind.
- Read something unexciting.
- Drink warm milk and honey.
Some of these concepts merit further discussion. (Note: while most of what follows is in my own words, some sentences are lifted verbatim from Howard's book.)