8 Great Ways to Improve Your Sleep Habits
Just like with every other aspect of your life, habits help us stay on track with what our goals are. It works the same way for sleep. If you develop and maintain healthy sleeping habits, you can get as much as you need to get done without forfeiting hours of being asleep. You will be able to control your sleeping pattern which improves your overall well-being. Here are 8 great ways we can improve our sleep habits also referred to as our sleep hygiene.
Create a feel good sleep environment
If you feel good, you will sleep a lot better. Your bedroom should be a safe place for you. It should also be a space that is stimulating to a good night’s rest.
- Making sure you wash your bed-sheets and change the pillow casing routinely can help achieve this. You should also make sure that your mattress is still in good condition. A good mattress can last between 7-9 years.
- The temperature in your bedroom should be between 65-70 degrees. If it is too hot or too cold you will not sleep comfortably and will be tossing throughout the night.
- Sound is also important. You can use noise cancelling headphones if there are a lot of people in your environment. A dark and quiet room can help create a somber sleeping space. Some opt to play light sounds or “white noise” to help them sleep sounder.
All of these methods will surely enhance the type of sleep you get every night.
When it’s time for bed, go to bed
Making sure that you sleep the same hours each day helps your body to regulate your sleep pattern. That means binge watching your TV shows trying to catch up to the newest episode will have to wait and you should get to bed on time. There are tons of online apps and other devices that help count the hours that you are asleep.
- If you go to bed at different times but still wake up at the same time each day for work or the gym, then you are not getting the right amount of sleep hours daily. You may sleep for 7 hours one night and then 4 hours the next.
- Some nights it might be unavoidable like when you are busy at work and get home late, your nighttime routine will be thrown off.
- As much as you can however, you should maintain the same sleep schedule to improve your overall sleep health, even on the weekends.
Leave your drinks for the morning
Caffeine is known to help keep us awake when we should be sleeping.
- It is best to avoid caffeinated beverages like coffees, teas, and energy drinks 4 hours before bedtime. These drinks can abrupt your sleeping schedule causing you wake up in the middle of the night and preventing you from falling back to sleep.
- Alcohol should also be avoided. We might think that downing a few drinks might help us feel calm but it actually has the opposite effect. Alcohol takes a longer time to leave your body depending on what type you consumed and it begins to act like a stimulant. You will be awaken many times and the sleep that you do get will not be restful.
- Nicotine has a similar effect and smokers should have their last light around 3 hours before bedtime.
By monitoring your substance intake in the hours before you head for bed, you will increase the quality of your sleep.
Don’t get your stomach upset
Eating big meals before bed is not suggested.
- Your last meal can be anywhere from 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, depending on what you are having.
- Indigestion is a major cause for not being able to comfortably sleep.
- Spicy foods or foods that you do not eat regularly should also be avoided late at night.
- Most of the time you are actually thirsty and not hungry and it is good to drink a glass of water before bed time.
Even with water intake however, you should make sure that you do not over consume as that can cause you to awaken several times during your sleep to use the facilities.
Be calm, sleep calm
You have to give yourself time to go from being awake to feeling sleepy. Though cellphone games and watching TV may seem like a healthy habit, the lights emitting from the screens actually do more harm for your sleep than you might think.
- It is good to catch up on reading or to do something brain stimulating like a puzzle or a crossword.
- A nice hot bath or shower can do the trick as well as it will allow you to have time for your thoughts to slow down.
- Meditation is also a good practice as you can do it right in your bed. Meditation is creating a stillness to your mind and body. Recent has shown meditation at night can help you to recall more of your dreams.
Exercising everyday is a great way to sleep more peacefully and to feel like you got rest during the night. Exercise has been used to treat people who have experienced insomnia and in some cases had a faster effect than using medication. Having a daily workout regimen is helpful to maintain your overall health but specifically when dealing with our sleeping patterns it can add about an hour of extra sleep everyday. Because our body produces endorphins when we sweat which boosts are energy, you shouldn’t workout close to bedtime. It is best to workout in the morning or afternoon hours. Relaxing, low-impact exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching in the evening can help promote sleep.
Avoid daytime napping if you can
An important part to managing your sleep routine is to stick to it as much as possible. Power naps can be helpful if you are having a stressful day but in the long run it will conflict with your sleep patterns. Napping during the day can actually cause you to feel more tired. It prolongs the time it normally takes you to drift asleep. However, if you are programmed to already take a nap then your body might already be used to it and it may not have any negative effects on your nighttime rest.
Understand the circadian rhythm
We are all born with an internal clock. We notice that infants take the first months of their lives to develop these patterns which is why they sleep and wake up at random hours throughout a day causing stress for their caretakers. Toddlers are told when to take a nap during the day just like they are told when to eat. In school lunchtime is usually the same time everyday. It is important to maintain internal schedules. Our circadian rhythm is the internal clock that monitors when we sleep and when we are awake. It is controlled by the area of our brain that responds to light.