Seven keys to a good night's sleep
"Even if we sleep badly, it is important to get up at the same time so as not to fool the brain about when it is day and when it is night", explains Sandra Giménez, a doctor in the sleep unit of the Hospital de Sant Pau. "We are a 24-hour clock, and we can't make it work differently on weekdays and weekends", says Odile Romero, head of the sleep unit at Vall d'Hebron Hospital.
Do not ingest stimulants such as coffee or chocolate, eat light meals at dinner time and leave about two hours between dinner and bedtime. "During sleep many body functions slow down and digestion is not as good during sleep", explains Giménez. "Dinner should be light, but you shouldn't go to bed hungry either, because then you can wake up because of it", says Romero.
Avoid exposure to intense light before going to bed and encourage it during the morning. According to Giménez, "we should avoid using devices such as tablets and mobile phones before going to sleep because, apart from making us more cognitively active, light attenuates the formation of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep". "If you work in a dark office, you can use light glasses during the morning", adds Romero.
Maintain an appropriate temperature in the room, preferably rather cool. In addition, the sleeping place should be dark and quiet.
Find some time to disconnect from daily activity before going to sleep. "You can do relaxation exercises, read or whatever suits you to take a break", Giménez points out.
Avoid intense exercise at night. "Soccer players can't sleep after a game because they've secreted adrenaline, which keeps the body in a state of alertness", Romero explains. "You can do stretching or similar activities", he adds.
Avoid long naps. "If we sleep at noon, we won't sleep as much at night", says the Sant Pau doctor.