In our busy day and age, quality sleep can sometimes feel elusive. Yet creating healthy habits (known as “sleep hygiene”) can make a big difference in your quality of life. While you may not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep, below are 5 proven tips to help you sleep better at night.
Incorporating healthy bedtime habits into your routine can make the difference between restlessness and restful slumber. And for good reason – research is beginning to show that a good night’s rest is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Multiple research has proved that poor sleep has negative effects on brain function, exercise performance, and your hormones. In addition, lack of sleep can cause weight gain and increases the risk of disease in children and adults. In contrast, restful sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier.
With that said, here are some proven ways to make the rest of your dreams a nightly reality…
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Try to avoid eating big, spicy meals for two to three hours before bedtime, but don’t go to bed hungry. If you need to address your hunger pangs, enjoy a light snack 45 minutes before bed. Drink enough fluid at night to keep you from waking up thirsty – but not so much that you’ll be awakened by the need for a trip to the bathroom.
Before going to bed, avoid nicotine, caffeine and other stimulants, such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola. And be aware of your alcohol intake. Downing a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep as alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns.
Engage in Soothing Activities before Bedtime
Avoid stressful, stimulating situations before going to bed in order to rest better. According to researchers from Harvard Health, physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness. That means no picking fights with your spouse before bedtime and leaving your work at work.
Instead, try easing the transition from your wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. For example, taking a warm bath allows your body temperature to rise and fall that triggers drowsiness. Other calming activities before bedtime, such as reading a book or practicing relaxation techniques, might also promote better sleep. For additional relaxation tips, here’s a great link: http://heartandsoulblog.com/2019/05/17/3-easy-tips-for-stress-relief/
Limit Your Daytime Naps
Recent research from the Mayo Clinic has proven that it’s best to nap early, or not all. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon, as late-day sleeps can decrease your sleep drive. If you do nap, try keeping it to no longer than 30 minutes and especially not after 5 PM.
Keep Up with Your Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets your body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time after night. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that a healthy amount of sleep for an adult is at least seven hours. If you’re struggling to fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing. I personally recommend reading or listening to music until you are tired enough to sleep.
Optimize Your Sleep Environment
Your environment plays a major factor in your sleep behavior. In fact, a study from the University of California showed that around 50% of participants noticed improved sleep quality when noise and light was diminished. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain it’s time to wake up.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Health also recommend keeping the temperature of your room between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, your bedroom should be free of any noise that can disturb you. If your partner snores, consider using ear plugs or “white noise machines”, such as fans or humidifiers. There is even an extremely popular app you can download on your phone that provides white noise, such as rain drops or ocean sounds.
Are there any tips that I missed? Please contact me at hello@heartandsoulblog as I’d love to hear your suggestions that have worked from you. And if you haven’t done so already, please scroll down to the field below and enter your contact information to sign up for our weekly newsletter. You will get more great tips like these straight to your inbox.