Getting a good night’s sleep is as crucial as regularly exercising and following a healthy diet. However, in recent years, both sleep quality and quantity have declined, with surveys showing that 40% of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep. If you’re one of them, here are seven tips to sleep better at night.
Develop a Soothing Pre-sleep Routine and Stick to It
You can ease the transition from wake time to sleeping with a period of relaxing activities at least an hour before bedtime. There are several ways to relax before sleeping, such as taking a warm bath or booking a spa treatment session to spoil yourself during the weekend. Massage therapy helps make you feel refreshed, relaxed, and tired by the end of the day.
Avoid stressful and stimulating activities such as exercising or discussing heavyhearted issues. Excess stress can cause the body to secrete stress hormones, often associated with alertness — making you feel more awake.
Exercise During the Day
Individuals who regularly exercise usually sleep better at night and feel more energized during the day. That’s because exercising can help improve the symptoms of insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep-related conditions, increasing the amount of time people spend in the restorative stage of sleep. Generally, the more effort you put into exercising, the more robust the effects.
However, even doing light exercise like walking for 10 minutes a day can improve sleep quality drastically. But keep in mind that it may take several months of partaking in regular activity before you can experience the sleep-promoting effects. So, be patient and find an exercise routine you can stick with long-term.
Avoid Consuming Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep
Several chemicals can interfere with one’s sleep, with caffeine being the most famous one. Caffeinated products, especially coffee and energy drinks, can decrease a person’s sleep quality since caffeine is a stimulant that can keep one awake for long periods. Another chemical to avoid is tobacco, so smokers should avoid using tobacco products at nighttime.
Alcohol is also worth noting since even though it can help bring people to sleep, after a few hours of consumption, it can act as a stimulant — boosting the number of awakenings and reducing the sleep quality later in the evening.
Optimize the Bedroom Environment
A dark, relatively cold, and dark environment is the perfect place for sleep, promoting sound slumber for most people. To achieve such an atmosphere, lower the volume of outside noise by using earplugs, turning off the lights, using an eye mask to block any remaining light, and keeping the temperature comfortably cool. Plus, if you have a pet that regularly wakes you up in the middle of the night, consider letting them sleep outside of your bedroom.
Stay in Sync with Your Body’s Sleep-Wake Cycle
Getting in perfect harmony with your body’s sleep-wake cycle is one of the best ways to sleep better and develop healthier sleeping habits. You can do this by sleeping and getting up at the same time every day. Doing this helps you set your body’s natural internal clock, optimizing the overall quality of your sleep. Make sure to choose a bedtime schedule when you usually feel tired so that you don’t need to force yourself to sleep.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure at Night
Exposure to lights during daytime is beneficial, but it can have an adverse effect at nighttime. That’s because overexposure to lights can affect your body’s sleep-wake cycle, tricking your brain into thinking that it’s still morning, reducing the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for promoting relaxation. This forces you to stay awake.
Avoid blue light at night, which is found in electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops. You can reduce your exposure to blue light at night through several methods, including wearing glasses that can block it and avoiding using any gadgets two hours before going to bed.
Nap Early or Don’t
Most people make naps a regular part of their days, but this habit can be one of the causes for those who find it challenging to sleep at night. That’s because late-day napping can reduce sleep drive, making you more awake during the night. So, that means it’s better to stop taking naps altogether. But if you need to nap, it’s best to keep it short and take it before 5 pm.
Some of the tips mentioned will be easier to implement into your routines than others, but if you stick to them, your chances of getting a good night’s sleep and developing healthy sleeping habits will improve. However, if your sleep difficulties don’t get better through these tips, you may want to consult your doctor or a sleep specialist.