Ten Top Sleep Tips from Sleep Expert, Dr Karina Patel
1. Don’t drink alcohol at bedtime.
Alcohol decreases overall sleep quality via a variety of different mechanisms. It acts as a central nervous system depressant, but is short acting, meaning it can cause insomnia. So, although you may fall asleep quicker, it may not last for very long and you may wake up frequently. Have your last tipple a couple of hours before bedtime to give your body more time to normalise before sleeping. Alcohol also triggers inflammation, causing the soft tissue lining in the airway to swell up to constrict the airspace. This can mimic, or worsen, symptoms of sleep apnoea (when your breathing stops and starts), and can cause snoring.
2. Bedtime brews can keep you awake.
A hot cuppa might seem like the perfect bedtime drink, but the caffeine in both coffee and tea acts as a stimulant and can prevent you nodding-off easily.
3. Keep your bedroom well-ventilated.
A hot, stuffy room will work against your body’s natural drop in temperature when you are sleeping.
4. Wash bedding regularly:
Putting your bedding through a hot wash will kill dust mites, which are linked to allergies that can stop sufferers getting a good night’s sleep.
5. Leave phones out of the bedroom.
Aside from online content stimulating your brain when you should be winding down, phone and tablet screens emit blue light and electromagnetic waves that can hinder sleep.
6. Don’t let your pillows hinder your shut-eye.
Your spine should be well aligned, so choosing a pillow that keeps the spine as straight as possible will help. Also make sure you aren’t using a pillow that tilts in your head, closing off your airway.
7. Breathe through your nose.
Mouth breathing closes the throat, which can lead to the vibration of the soft tissues of the airway (usually the throat). It can also dry out your mouth, leading to great incidence of viruses and bacteria lodging in the throat. Finally, it can lead to too much CO2 loss – one of the main gases that regulates how much air you take in. When the balance is incorrect, mucus is produced to slow breathing down. Unfortunately, this leads to a greater CO2 imbalance and the cycle repeats itself with more mouth breathing. Balanced CO2 levels are needed for brain and muscle function.
8. Snoring and sleep apnoea can inhibit a good night’s sleep.
Snoring can be another result of mouth breathing, but also caused by blocked nasal passages. Sleep apnoea is the repeated cessation of breathing during sleep when the airway is partially, or fully, obstructed. It is normal for this to happen up to five times a night. Try using a smart phone app to give you a clearer picture of what happens when you fall asleep.
9. Practice Buteyko breathing.
Particularly good for people who regularly suffer from blocked noses, it uses nasal breathing, breath control and breath holding to help clear nasal passages. Take a look at this YouTube video for more details and to try for yourself. https://youtu.be/tgmKIwUqhkg.
10. Open up your airways.
There are nasal strips or cones to help open up the nose, while oral appliances can hold the jaw in a more forward position to open up the throat. Also try Xlear Nasal Spray. It is 100% natural and safe, containing xylitol, which has natural anti-bacterial qualities, and grapefruit seed with proven toxicity to Covid-19. Research shows that people who regularly use Xlear are at a significantly lower risk of contracting respiratory infections. Xlear is available from independent pharmacists and Amazon.
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