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Dreaming of a Good Night's Sleep

A few tips to prepare yourself for quality rest

Good quality sleep is an issue for many people. Often people wake up unsatisfied with the quantity or quality of sleep they have had. They can be very sensitive to their surroundings and feel their senses are heightened during the sleep process. If they don't manage to fall asleep quickly, it could mean a long night of tossing and turning, checking of the time and becoming increasingly frustrated. Personally, I experience this when travelling and having to adjust to new surroundings where the mattress is never quite right, the pillows are always too soft... Why we sleep is still a bit of a mystery, we do know that when we don't get good rest, it affects our immune system, our brain's ability to concentrate and remember, our energy level as well as our mood. Sleep is really our body's time to recharge, repair and restore. The work hard, play hard motto of Hong Kong doesn't always feel conducive to sleep but if you're tired of being tired, here are a few sleep hygiene tips that I've found useful in getting a good night's rest. Sleeping in the dark Our body has a "clock" which is also known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls our circadian rhythm. When our eyes are exposed to light, it sends a signal along the optic nerve to the SCN which then tells the pineal gland to stop producing melatonin and the opposite is true, which is why we get sleepy in the evening. Getting exposure to sun during the day and limiting the amount of artificial light during the night will help melatonin and its precursor, serotonin. Creating a sanctuary Your bedroom should feel peaceful and safe, free of distractions like work, computers, mobile phones and TVs. Soothing music and essential oils would also be nice additional sensory aids to help set the mood. Empty your worries Setting aside any unresolved issues and mental worries would help your mind relax into sleep. As I tell my clients, when you worry, not only does it not solve the problem, you also just end up worrying about the worry, which ends up having a snowball effect. A better strategy is to relax and have a restful sleep so you are fully energised to tackle the problem the next day. Make a ritual Put away your electronic devices an hour before bedtime. Do some light stretching, take a warm bath, read or journal. I find meditation right before bed a great way to cleanse the mind and it is as easy as just relaxing the body and focusing on your breath, slowly breathing in and out. Managing stress We all go through difficult times in our lives. During these periods, it could feel impossible to shut your mind off. It is important for you to find a stress relieving method that you like whether it is yoga, exercise, massage or meditation. Kinesiology can also help you tame those unwanted thoughts that are keeping you awake.

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