How you feel during your waking hours hinges greatly on how well you sleep. Similarly, the cure for sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference to the quality of your nightly rest. The following tips to sleep better will help you optimize your sleep so you can be productive, mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and full of energy all day long.
Create a bedtime routine and schedule
One practice that can really help is setting a sleep schedule. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. If you need an alarm clock to wake up on time, you may need to set an earlier bedtime. As with your bedtime, try to maintain your regular wake-time even on weekends. A regular schedule like this will help your body wind down faster and wake up feeling more refreshed.
Relax or Meditate Daily
If you can manage it, give yourself an hour before bed to slow down and relax. Make sure to avoid electronics and get your body into a relax state. Spend the last 20 minutes or so in bed and start preparing to fall asleep with meditation, reading or even just deep breathing. Meditation is a great activity that, when performed daily, can naturally relax both your mind and body allowing you to fall into a deeper, more relaxing sleep.
A hot bath or shower before bed has a soothing effect on your body and helps to relax your muscles before you sleep. Not only will the warm water relax you, the rise and fall in body temperature also induces sleepiness and helps you fall asleep faster.
Regulate the Light
Even the smallest amount of light can have a big impact on your sleep quality. Keep your room as dark as possible by eliminating all lights, TV screens or electronics when you are heading to bed. With that said, be sure to increase light exposure during the day by taking work breaks, walks, etc outside in sunlight. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and your brain should product more during the evenings, when it’s dark, and less during the day, when it’s light, to keep you awake and alert.
Make the Bed
It may seem like a simple chore, but surprisingly it can affect your sleep quality. Make your bed appealing by washing the covers, freshening the sheets and fluffing pillows. By doing this you will be more inclined and looking forward to crawling into a cosy, clean bed.
Try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within three hours of bed. Fatty foods take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and may keep you up. Also be cautious when it comes to spicy or acidic foods in the evening, as they can cause stomach trouble and heartburn. If you need a light snack, try to have some protein like nuts or cheese to hold you over until breakfast.
You will also sleep more deeply if you exercise regularly. You don’t have to be a star athlete to reap the benefits—as little as 20 to 30 minutes of daily activity helps. And you don’t need to do all 30 minutes in one session. You can break it up into five minutes here, 10 minutes there, and still get the benefits. Try a brisk walk, a bicycle ride, or even gardening or housework. Some people prefer to schedule exercise in the morning or early afternoon as exercising too late in the day can stimulate the body, raising its temperature. Even if you prefer not to exercise vigorously at night, don’t feel glued to the couch, though. Relaxing exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching can help promote sleep.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
You might be surprised to know that caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it! Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch or cutting back your overall intake.
One of the most common reasons for not sleeping involves stress. Find what relaxes you at night and stick with it. Maybe it’s deep breathing or meditation, yoga, and a good book. Whatever it is, use it to relax your body and mind so you’re able to find a few hours of restful sleep. If the stress of managing work, family, or school is keeping you awake, you may need help with stress management. By learning how to manage your time effectively, handle stress in a productive way, and maintain a calm, positive outlook, you’ll be able to sleep better at night.
Know When to See a Sleep Physician
If you have tried the tips to sleep better above and are still struggling with sleep problems, you may have a sleep disorder that requires professional treatment. Consider scheduling a visit with a sleep doctor if, despite your best efforts at self–help, you are still troubled by any of the following symptoms:
- Persistent daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Loud snoring accompanied by pauses in breathing
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Frequent morning headaches
- Day-time drowsiness
- Falling asleep at inappropriate times
If you or a loved one has one more of the above symptoms you may have untreated obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – which could be a danger to your health. Click here to take a quick self-test to see if you may be at increased risk of having sleep apnoea.