How to sleep better?
We have discussed the importance of sleep and its effects on our mental and physical health as well as our daily functioning. And even though sometimes we actively choose other activities over it (which most of the time we really shouldn’t), there are times when we are just unable to doze off. Here we offer you some tips and tricks to improve your sleep.
We will give you some advice on things that can instantly improve your sleep, but we will also discuss some long-term actions that will create a healthier sleep routine.
1. Keep the bedroom dark and cool
This tip is an easy fix to your sleeping problems. It doesn’t mean that it solves all the problems, but it can improve your sleep quite a lot. Any light that comes into the room is perceived by the body even through your eyes closed.
This discourages melatonin (sleep hormone) production thus making you more awake. Your electronics right before sleep also fall under this category. Try and avoid blue light all together at least 2 hours before sleep. And lastly, don’t forget to let some air in the room or turn on the AC before going to bed. Our bodies fall asleep faster when they are not dripping in sweat.
2. Avoid bad habits at night
Smoking, drinking alcohol and even eating big or sugary meals are considered bad habits. However, damaging they are to your general health, they also have a tendency to impact your sleep in a negative way.
Even if you can’t quit these habits fully, try and avoid practicing them in the second half of the day. Besides some of them creating some type of discomfort (like heartburn from overeating or coughing from smoking), which is already distracting enough, these things are stimulants and many of them stay in your system for hours. As a rule of thumb try eating not later than 4 hours before going to bed, steer clear from caffeine after 4 pm and try to limit smoking and drinking at least 2 hours before bed. These are some general guidelines, but you can find what works best for you and your lifestyle.
3. Bedtime rituals
This is one of the longer-term fixes, but it’s worth it. Try and create a schedule for yourself that doesn’t fluctuate much.
It is important to go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time every day (and yes, this means weekends too!). If you want to have that energy during the day, you have to help your body maintain systematic processes, a.k.a. sleep. Also, establish a relaxing night-time routine for yourself. It could be just 10 minutes long or maybe last for an hour or two. Good relaxation techniques could include a warm bath or shower, meditation, reading, light stretching or journaling. Just try and stay away from your computer or phone (coming back to point 1). Find what feels good for you and enjoy your evenings.
4. Day time influence
When we think about sleep, we often concentrate on what we do in the second half of the day or even just the hours leading up to our sleep. However, your daytime activities have just as much influence.
For example, regular exercise and especially aerobic has been found to improve your sleep. Also, the amount of sunlight you receive during the day can dictate your sleeping schedule. Sunlight regulates melatonin (still that sleeping hormone) thus saving its production for later in the evening. You can combine the two and have a long (or a short) walk during the day!
These are the main factors that affect the way you sleep. It will take some time, but also trial and error to establish right habits and routines to improve your sleep quality. If you realise that no matter what you do and no matter for how long, nothing really helps, it might be a good idea to seek help to solve this issue with a professional.
Meanwhile, sleep well, stay home and stay safe!