A good night’s sleep is essential for good health and overall well-being. While important, very few people enjoy the recommended 7 hours of sleep daily. Lack of sleep has been attributed to, among other conditions, grogginess, brain fog, irritability, and even depression. Good quality sleep is however elusive for many people, with some only managing a few hours of sleep, sometimes none. If you have been struggling to fall asleep or get enough sleep for that matter, making a few lifestyle changes can help improve your ability to sleep. Here are a few tips on how.
1. Create A Comfortable and Serene Sleep Environment
The state and condition of your sleep environment, bedroom, can make or break your ability to sleep well. A good example of this is a disorganized, hot, noisy, and bright bedroom; getting sleep in such an environment will be almost impossible. A well-organized, cool, and comfortable bedroom creates just the perfect environment for sleep. That said, keeping your bedroom cool and comfortable and as dark and quiet as possible would be advisable. Blackout curtains or blinds can help block external light sources.
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Living in a noisy neighborhood can be particularly irritating and also makes it almost impossible to sleep well. Investing in a white noise machine can help. Most people also find it easier to invest in quality earplugs to block the noises off completely. Consider installing noise-canceling panels in your bedroom for even better performance.
Sleep experts recommend lowering your bedroom temperature a degree or two to promote and stimulate sleep. This is especially important if your bedroom feels too hot and uncomfortable. Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillow with a cooling function would be an excellent idea too.
2. Create A Relaxing Bedtime Routine
What better way to improve sleep quality than start with a relaxing bedtime routine? Engaging in relaxing activities helps the body slow down, paving the way for good quality sleep. While it might seem strange for many, doing yoga, deep breathing exercises, or listening to relaxing music has proven to promote sleep. These activities send calming signals to the brain, enabling it to slow down for the day.
Although this may depend on what you prefer, listening to relaxing music, some yoga, gentle muscle stretches, having a warm bath, or reading a novel/magazine can help improve your sleep patterns. Engaging in whatever relaxes can be the key to having a restful night and waking up rejuvenated.
3. Eat Healthily
Having a well-balanced and nutritious meal is good for your health and plays a significant role in your ability to sleep well at night. While processed and factory-manufactured foods may seem yummy and delicious, most of them contain lots of extra sugars, calories, and additives. Some of the compounds present have shown to have a negative impact on hormone production, throwing your ECS out of whack. Irregular hormone production can make it almost impossible for one to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Never rush to prepare a meal just for the sake. Take time to evaluate your meal plans, and start going for lean proteins, leafy veggies, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Whole foods also go a long way in keeping your hormone balance in check. You might also want to check what types of foods you have in the morning and evening. Some foods, including warm milk, turkey, whole grains, etc., promote sleep, while others are known to induce wakefulness. Choosing what foods to eat at dinner will thus help improve your sleep patterns. Sleep experts also recommend having your dinner 3-4 hours before bedtime to allow for easy digestion before lying down. A simple snack, e.g., an apple, banana, fresh juice, etc., would be enough if feeling like having something before retiring. Be sure to have all the 3 main meals every day. Skipping a meal can put unnecessary stress on the digestive system, affecting your ability to sleep well.
4. Limit Your Alcohol and Caffeine Intake
Almost everyone starts the day with a caffeinated drink. While your regular cup of coffee may help kickstart your day, it could also be the reason you can sleep well at night. This is because caffeine is a strong stimulant that triggers increased heart rate and alertness, among other processes. Its effects can be even worse if you have more than one cup of coffee daily, particularly later in the day. According to research, caffeine takes approximately 6 hours to leave the system. Limiting caffeine intake to just one cup in the morning or avoiding it altogether can help. If possible, substitute caffeine-rich drinks/beverages with non-caffeinated ones. Fresh fruit juice, pure water, or even porridge can serve as a hearty breakfast to start the day.
Alcohol, unknown to many, affects one’s ability to sleep well at night. Although you might doze off faster after having a drink or two, alcohol has been shown to cause dehydration and sleep disruptions. How many trips do you make to the restroom after gobbling a few bottles of beer? These repeated trips disrupt sleep, making it almost impossible for REM sleep. This explains why most people wake up irritable or with a nasty headache. Limiting and/or giving up on alcohol is one of the best remedies for promoting sleep and improving overall health.
5. Manage Stress
While stress might be inevitable in the fast-paced world, you should at no point allow it to creep into your life. Stress is the root of many vices and problems many people experience today, from sleeplessness and heart conditions. Under normal circumstances, stress triggers increased production of adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that can make it hard for one to sleep. The last thing you want is to have lots of these hormones in your bloodstream at bedtime.
Managing stress or learning to unwind just before bedtime can help manage some of these hormones. Most people find listening to music, yoga, reading a book, and meditation helpful in keeping stress in check. Understanding you may not have control over most issues, and taking credit for even the smallest accomplishments, can go a long way in managing stress. If possible, write down all issues that might be stressing you on a piece of paper before hitting the blankets. This trick has proven useful for many.