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Tips for better sleep

Small changes can make big difference to sleep, say experts

Hectic schedules, stress and excess workload have made sound sleep a luxury for many. But a few lifestyle changes can make for a restful night, say experts.

Helpful wind-down routines include a bath, a hot milky drink, switching off the television and computer, getting clothes ready for the morning, listening to soothing music and planning the next day's schedule, help in relaxing minds which leads to sound sleep, reports

Experts say the surroundings could be rearranged to create an atmosphere more suited to sleep. Sleeping with the television on should be avoided as the waves disrupt sleep patterns.

To sleep well, there needs to be a fractional temperature difference between our body and our brain, a warm body and a cool head.

If a person prepares for sleep well before midnight (between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.), he stands a much better chance of getting a good sleep.

Vital deep sleep occurs an hour or so after a person drops off. So one can optimise the quality of this initial stage by going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Experts also say that one should have breakfast within half-an-hour of waking. This not only stimulates body metabolism, but when one eats a healthy breakfast, the person starts to create the perfect internal chemistry for optimal sleep.

It is always good to keep a gap of 90 minutes between eating dinner and going to bed. A heavy meal late in the evening disrupts sleep pattern.

Consuming two-to-three litres of fluid throughout the day will help keep the body hydrated and improve the quality of sleep. However, caffeine should be avoided as it dehydrates the body.

Half an hour of gentle exercise every day boosts the production of hormones that makes a person feel relaxed, such as endorphins and serotonin, as well as helping to shift excess weight and improve breathing and energy levels.

To relax one's mind at bedtime, a person should think about something he or she really enjoys doing, like an activity or the memory of a perfect day. The person should run it through in the mind like a film and slow it right down. This exercise will make a person relaxed, peaceful and ultimately sleepy.