While most people focus on their diet and exercise, they often forget to give sleep the same importance. Sleep hygiene is crucial for general wellness, and research has indicated the hazards of poor sleep habits in many instances.
Along with keeping you groggy and irritable the whole day, lack of sleep can also cause obesity and heart diseases in the long run. On the other hand, good sleep hygiene makes you healthier and improves your quality of life.
Unfortunately, the past few years are marked by deteriorating sleep quality for many of us because of increased activity during the day and other factors. So, how can you improve sleep quality? Read on to find out.
How to Get Better Sleep?
Have you grown weary of counting sheep at night? Fortunately, our tips on how to get better sleep will help you sleep well and wake up fresh in the morning.
Reduce Exposure to Blue Light Before Bed
During the day, you’re exposed to a lot of natural and artificial light. Both are good to keep you active. However, when it’s evening or nighttime, you should limit your exposure to blue light.
Your body follows a specific routine or internal clock called the circadian rhythm. So, for instance, if you’re exposed to light at night, your brain thinks it’s still daytime.
Thus, it keeps you active and focused, preventing the onset of sleep.
It also lowers or blocks the production of the sleep hormone melatonin (a hormone that lets you sleep soundly and relaxes your body simultaneously)
Electronic devices, like your laptop and smartphone, emit blue light in large amounts. As a result, they make you stay up longer. If you use your phone excessively before bed, it could be the reason why you are unable to drift into sleep.
Here are some ways to limit blue light exposure.
- Download an app that blocks blue light on your laptop or work PC.
- Wear blue light glasses when working on your computer or using your phone for long periods.
- You can also download iOS or Android apps on your smartphones that block blue light.
- Don’t watch TV for at least two hours before going to bed.
- Switch off bright lights in your room when you head to bed.
Get Bright Light Exposure In Daytime
While exposure to blue light at night can disrupt your sleep patterns, getting more light during the day can actually help you sleep better. This is because your body keeps track of how long you’re getting light.
Therefore, light exposure affects your body’s hormones and the brain’s response to different mechanisms. In addition, getting natural sunlight during the day maintains the circadian rhythm, improving sleep quality at night.
A study showed that insomnia patients who get daylight exposure have better sleep duration and quality. Additionally, light exposure helped reduce the time it took for them to sleep by 83%.
Furthermore, another study showed that getting two hours of bright light increased sleep duration by two hours.
Moreover, sleep efficiency in these study subjects increased by 80%.
If you can’t get enough daylight, buy artificial bulbs that can mimic bright light and place them in different places around the house.
Say No to Irregular Daytime Naps
It’s good to take power naps if you’re feeling tired or sleepy during the day. However, don’t let them turn into long naps at varying times.
When you do so, your body’s clock can get confused. As a result, you’ll have trouble sleeping at night.
In one study published in Physiology & Behavior, it was seen that people who took naps during the day were actually sleepier. However, this effect isn’t universal. If taking a nap during the afternoon is a part of your daily routine, you won’t experience sleep disruption at night.
The adverse effects of irregular napping in the day are mainly on people who’re not used to this schedule.
Keep Your Mind Clear
One of the best, although challenging to follow, tips for better sleep is to have a clear head before bedtime. To achieve this, you can do breathing exercises or meditate to relax your brain.
Additionally, a massage can help, too, as seen in a study. The results showed that patients who took a massage had better sleep quality at night.
However, getting a massage every day isn’t practical unless you have a massage chair at home.
Alternatively, you can try different relaxing techniques like deep breathing, taking a bath, listening to a soothing playlist, or reading a book.
Avoid activities that would trouble your mind. For example, watching a show that ends in a cliffhanger will keep you thinking about the plot while you’re trying to sleep.
Organize Your Bedroom
Perhaps you might not have heard of this one before, but organizing your sleeping area can make a huge difference. Especially if you are a neat and orderly person by disposition, decluttering your sleep area will improve sleep quality.
I’m not referring to your bed in particular, but to the surroundings as well. Do you have any unsettled clothes in your wardrobe? Is your bookshelf messy? Are your makeup items all over your dressing table? If yes, make sure to put things in order.
This will clear your mind and help you sleep better at night.
Keep Your Bedroom at the Right Temperature
The temperature of your room can have a significant effect on sleep quality. A study revealed that temperature has a bigger impact on your sleep than noise.
Additionally, research has shown that high bedroom temperature affects sleep quality negatively and keeps you awake at night. 70°F is the optimum temperature in most cases, but it may fluctuate depending on your habits.
Get a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow
A quality mattress and a suitable pillow are essential to make you comfortable as you doze off. If your mattress and pillow aren’t comfortable enough, you may just toss and turn all night, unable to fall asleep.
But how can you identify a quality mattress and an appropriate pillow? Here’s how:
A quality mattress should be dense and thick in its form, and you should not sink into it when you lie down. It supports your body, giving you ultimate relaxation. Yes, quality mattresses can get a little pricey, but they are worth every dollar!
An appropriate pillow should neither be too thick nor too thin. You need a pillow that is neutral in size and supports the curve of your neck.
With a suitable pillow also comes the question of utilizing it effectively. For instance, if you experience backache, you can place one pillow between your legs to put less stress on your back and align your hips.
So, one pillow below the neck (as usual) and one between the legs will do for backache sufferers.
Say No to Coffee Late In the Day
If you have a habit of consuming caffeine late in the day, it’s probably the reason behind your sleeplessness. Although caffeine improves your energy and focus, it can also stimulate the brain and prevent nighttime relaxation.
A study showed that the intake of caffeine six hours before bedtime decreases sleep quality significantly. Since caffeine stays in your circulation for up to eight hours, it can have a prolonged effect.
Avoid Heavy Meals Right Before Bed
Our body typically takes six to eight hours to digest food. So how can you expect to be at peace when you eat 20-30 minutes before bed?
A meal right before bed not only slows digestion but also overloads your stomach, resulting in discomfort and sleeplessness.
I do not recommend skipping your nighttime meal either, as it will prevent you from getting all the essential nutrients. Instead, set your routine right.
First, try to eat at least two hours before you sleep. Second, eat a light snack at night.
Along with the right time, ‘eating right’ is vital as well. Avoid eating greasy foods and sweets at night.
Avoid Drinking Fluids Before Bedtime
What happens when you sip on fluids before bed? Those who do it occasionally know the consequences pretty well.
You’ll keep waking up at odd hours to go to the bathroom. Consequently, you’ll have trouble falling asleep again.
Avoid drinking water or other fluids in the last two hours before bed. In this way, you won’t wake up in the middle of the night and will eventually sleep better.
Use a Sleep Aid
If making these changes doesn’t seem to work for you, try sleep aids like melatonin supplements or cannabidiol (CBD). Since it’s effective against insomnia, it’s one of the easiest ways to improve sleep quality.
Melatonin is more popular than other sleep supplements because it does not have withdrawal effects. Thus, you can use it whenever you need it without forming a habit.
However, don’t use all these supplements at once.
Improving your sleep hygiene can have a significant effect on your mental and physical well-being. Unfortunately, many people have trouble falling or staying asleep because of daily stressors and several other factors.
If you are from among the night owls and wonder how to get better sleep at night, try a few tips discussed above.
Consult your doctor if none of these solutions work for you, as you might have an underlying health condition.