- in Health
Sleep is important and it affects your physical and mental health. You may not be aware yet but tossing and turning at 3 am is not healthy and this could spell a problem on your sleep hygiene. Poor sleeping habits could negatively affect your productivity, hormones, testosterone levels for men, emotional balance, and weight.
A good night’s sleep is more under your control than you may know. You too can do it by making simple changes to your bedtime habits, and you can achieve that much-needed slumber. Studies have shown that there are a variety of practices that can help you maximize the hours you spend sleeping.
There are simple and effective ways with scientific backing that can improve your sleep. They include:
1. Be Aware of your Sleep-Wake cycle
It is the daily sleep pattern that you establish and is in sync with your circadian rhythm. A typical sleep-wake cycle consists of 16 hours of wakefulness and 8 hours of sleep. Going to bed every day at the same time sets your body to expect rest at a particular time.
Avoid sleeping in on weekends as is the norm but instead get out of bed the usual time. It is advised that you should stick to this routine to avoid health-related issues such as diabetes, weight gain, and cardiovascular diseases.
2. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine, often used as a stimulant to promote alertness and will make it hard for you to fall asleep or can interfere with your circadian rhythm. You should avoid beverages with caffeine such as coffee, chocolate, tea, and medications. Do not take these within 6 hours before bedtime.
Alcohol contains nicotine and it greatly interferes with the quality of your sleep. It suppresses your ability to breathe normally, and this can cause sleep apnea.
3. Transform Your Bedroom
Your bedroom should be quiet, dark and with minimal noise to promote a night of peaceful sleep. In case of extra light streaming in, use heavy curtains instead or eye masks to condition your body and brain that it’s time to sleep. Your room should be well ventilated with no clutter that could cause distractions.
You should also ensure your bed and pillow is comfortable. A good quality mattress prevents back and necks pain significantly which may interfere with the quality of your sleep.
4. Eat Light
Avoid heavy meals which disrupt hormones needed to make you fall asleep. Have your evening meal several hours before bedtime and if you wake up at night due to hunger, have a snack that will promote sleep such as a glass of warm milk or a banana. You should also avoid food that may cause constipation or gaseous distention. It may keep you up at night.
5. Drink Less
It is a fact that water is right for your overall health but don’t take too much especially before bedtime. It will force you to wake up at night to empty your bladder and falling back asleep may be difficult. Drink just enough to stay hydrated throughout the night. Avoid drinking any fluids 2 hours before your bedtime.
6. Exercise during the Day
Training is essential for sleep hygiene in the sense that it will improve the quality of your sleep. It prevents sleep apnea and reduces stress and will enable you to sleep faster. You should, however, avoid exercising late during the day or consider working out early in the day.
It is because exercises stimulate the production of cortisol which stimulates your brain causing alertness. The cortisol in your system will prolong your sleep from kicking in, and you will toss and turn in bed for a while before you finally get some sleep.
There are, however, some relaxations exercises that can help relax your body and set you in the right mood for a night of better sleep. They include yoga, stretching on the floor, Pilates, and self-massage.
7. Avoid using Your Phone in Bed
Your phone and other electronics may be a source of distraction when it comes to bedtime. The blue light on the screen of your phone interferes with the natural production of melatonin, a hormone which controls your circadian rhythm. It sends signals to your brain that it is still day and this will make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Natural light is, however, good to maintain your circadian rhythm. Let in light early in the morning as soon as you wake up and be sure to catch a sun break during the day.
8. Avoid Taking Naps during the Day
Taking a nap could be beneficial to your health but only if you do it at the right time. Naps late into the day may disrupt your regular sleep pattern because you won’t be that sleepy when it’s bedtime. It includes the length and quality of your sleep.
If you must take a nap, consider making one earlier in the day, and it should be less than 30 minutes. The longer the rest you take equates to shorter sleep hours during the night. If you can avoid making a nap, it will play to your advantage because you will be assured of quality sleep during the night.
9. Adopt Relaxation Techniques
Establish a pre-sleep routine and stick to it. This will help you relax just before bed and improve the quality of your sleep. These techniques include reading a book, massages, taking a hot bath, deep breathing exercises and meditation. Do these a few minutes before you go to sleep to give your body time to adjust and relax enough to fall asleep.
Sleep is an important aspect of both your physical and mental health and should be given a forefront when it comes to your quest of staying healthy. Poor and insufficient sleep has been linked to medical conditions such as obesity, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes.
You can achieve this one step at a time and slowly incorporate a new habit until you find what works for you. You can only achieve optimal sleep hygiene when you implement healthy sleep habits and follow them through.