Tips for Better Sleep
A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function. It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children. In contrast, a good night’s sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier
Many factors can interfere with a good night’s sleep — from work stress and family responsibilities to illnesses. It’s no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive.
You might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep. However, You are not doomed to toss and turn every night.
HERE ARE 9 EVIDENCE-BASED TIPS TO SLEEP BETTER AT NIGHT:
1. INCREASE BRIGHT LIGHT EXPOSURE DURING THE DAY
Your body has a natural time clock called the circadian rhythm. This affects your body, brain, and hormones and it helps tell your body when to stay awake and when to go to sleep.
Getting a dose of daylight early in the day can help normalize your circadian rhythm, and help improve daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.
2. REDUCE BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE IN THE EVENING
Exposure to light during the day is great to normalize your circadian rhythm, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect. It can actually work against you by tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get into a good night’s sleep.
Blue light (which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit) is the worst in this regard. There are lots of different ways you can use to reduce nighttime blue light exposure. These include:
- Wear glasses that block blue light.
- Download an app such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer.
- Install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone. These are available for both iPhones and Android models.
- Stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed.
3. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
Caffeinated drinks are among the most popular drink choices in the world. A single dose can enhance focus, energy, and sports performance!
However, when consumed late in the day, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. It can stay elevated in your blood for up to 8 hours, so it’s best not to consume any after 4pm. If you’re really craving a coffee late in the day, try opting for a decaf! Your sleep cycle will thank you for it.
4. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE
Many of us enjoy coming home after a long day of work and having a drink to relax. However, this could be doing more harm than good.
Alcohol is know to cause or increase symptoms of apnea, snoring, dehydration and disrupted sleep patterns. It also alters nighttime melatonin productions, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm.
Try opting for a nice big glass of water or a hot tea to relax instead!
5. AVOID LATE NIGHT SNACKING
Eating late at night may negatively affect both sleep quality and the natural release of HGH (human growth hormone) and melatonin. With that said, the quality and type of late night snack you choose may play a role as well.
6. DON’T DRINK ANY LIQUIDS BEFORE BED
Although hydration is vital, it might be wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening. Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night and drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms.
The best ways to avoid this are; not drinking any fluids 1-2 hours before going to bed and be sure to use the washroom right before going to bed to decrease your need to wake in the night.
7. EXERCISE REGULARLY — BUT NOT BEFORE BED
Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your overall health and can help to improve your sleep and reduce symptoms of insomnia. It has been proven that exercise can nearly half the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and contributes to almost an entire hour of extra sleep each night.
However, performing it too late in the day may actually cause sleep problems. This is due to the stimulation and endorphins exercise provides, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline.
8. CRAFT A PRE-BED ROUTINE
If you have a hard time falling asleep, it’s natural to think that the problem starts when you lie down in bed. However, the lead-up to bedtime plays a large part in helping you to fall asleep quickly.
Poor pre-bed habits are a major contributor to sleep difficulties and changing these habits can take time, but doing so can help you feel more relaxed and ready to fall asleep quickly.
Some things you can do to help with this include:
- Quiet reading
- Gentle stretching
- Playing soothing music on low volume
- Relaxation exercises and meditation
- Lower the lights
- Step away from screens for at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Have a relaxing bath or shower
- Try go go to bed and wake up at consistent times every day
9. OPTIMIZE YOUR BEDROOM ENVIROMENT
The setup and environment of your bedroom are key factors in getting a good night’s sleep.
The main factors include;
- A comfortable bed and pillows
- External light
- Furniture arrangement.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you’re tired but can’t sleep, it may be a sign that your circadian rhythm is off. Being tired all day and awake at night can also be caused by poor napping habits, anxiety, depression, caffeine consumption, blue light from devices, sleep disorders, and even diet.
If you keep saying, “I’m so tired but can’t sleep!” and everyday sleep remedies don’t help, talk to a doctor. They can help determine the underlying problem and recommend solutions that will help you get restful sleep so you have daytime energy.