As humans we spend nearly one third of our lifetime asleep, so naturally improving your sleep would improve your overall health. Sleeping is essential at every stage of our life from the growth of an infant, required rest of an adult, and recovery of an elderly person.
Neglecting sleep can lead to a negative effect on your hormonal state, bodily functions, exercise performance, and overall productivity. Sleep deprivation increases your chances of experiencing a number of mental and physical issues, such as anxiety and weight gain, that arise from the jam-packed schedules we tackle on a day-to-day basis.
Many are blessed with the ability to drift into a slumber the moment their head touches the pillow. It takes others a number of minutes and a lot of fidgeting to finally catch some shut-eye. No matter which side you are on there are ways through which you can take charge of your well-being and improve your sleep with these steps.
Get more sunlight during the day
Now this doesn’t advocate sitting with nothing but a hat and shorts at the beach during the mid-day sun by any means. Getting more sunlight should be incorporated into your daily routine. You can consider walking outdoors in the morning before work or swap out that treadmill session and take a stroll in the park- the fresh air will do you wonders as well.
Circadian rhythm helps your body stay awake and tells it when it’s time to go to bed, your own physical alarm clock. Natural sunlight helps keep the level of circadian rhythm in your body healthy. Studies indicate it can decrease the time needed to fall asleep up to 83%. There you have it, one more reason to get out more often!
Cut out blue light from screens in the evening
Perhaps you’ve seen the blue-light filter option or night reading-mode on your smartphone. I can assure you, it isn’t there just to increase the size of the drop-down. In darkness, your pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin. If you skipped science class, this hormone is responsible for telling your body to get tired and that it’s time for bed. Blue light inhibits the secretion of the hormone and thus could lead to incomplete sleep of poor quality. So be sure to use these filters once the sun sets.
In case you do not have the option on your phone and laptop consider investing in blue-light glasses or in a blue-light screen protector if you don’t fancy the eye wear. This will help you protect your eyes and ensure you experience sleep even if you have to tackle a late night submission right before bed. Further, you can even consider tinting your glasses if you need to.
Buy melatonin supplements
You should prioritize melatonin as it not only to improve the quality of your sleep but helps avoid issues that arise due to melatonin suppression. Over time this can lead to some serious chronic aliments. Some issues include metabolic syndrome, obesity, cancer, depression, etc. Investing in melatonin supplements is a good idea and can help you improve the quality of your sleep. They also help you sleep longer and fall asleep faster and don’t worry they are the most popular sleep aid.
Just 2mg of melatonin improved not only sleep but even energy levels in the following day. If you still have your doubts speak with your health care provider before starting on the supplement.
No coffee after 5pm, try soothing teas
Coffee contains caffeine and many of us are guilty of needing a cup as soon as our feet touch the bedroom floor. While great for waking up and working out, caffeine is a stimulant and has terrible effects on your sleep. You may not drink coffee after 5 but a number of carbonated beverages (red bull and monster), chocolates, and energy drinks contain caffeine. At least maintain a 6 hour gap between your last source of caffeine and bed time if you need it.
Alternatively, you can opt for a calming and tantalizing tea such as Tulsi tea. Tulsi tea such as the one offered by Organic India is made up of herbs that are welcomed by the pallet and promote better sleep. Herbs such as Tulsi and Ashwagandha are long regarded in ancient Indian medicine for their anti-stress, healing and energy restorative properties. You can also try Chamomile tea which is known for promoting better sleep cycles.
Make your sleeping schedule regular
We are creatures of habit and irregular sleeping schedules disrupt the bodies natural tendencies. It will often leave you feeling drained and groggy even with sleep of 6-8 hours. Further, by sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday, you do yourself a favor to your bodies circadian rhythm, remember it was mentioned above.
If you want to make it a little more interesting then you can buy a fitness band with sleep tracking features and monitor your sleep. Not just the quantity but the quality as well. That’s right! You can view the various stages of your sleep along with their duration such as light sleep and REM sleep. If getting out technology helps you sleep better then go on and have fun with it!
Do not drink at night
It is recommended that you stray from consuming liquids about 1-2 hours before you sleep. This is because consuming high volumes is likely to make you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Some people can find it difficult to fall back asleep. On the other hand, drink too little and you’ll wake up thirsty. Perhaps a glass before bed or aside your bed table is the sweet spot. Also, using the washroom before you hit the sack should be a priority.
Make the bedroom slightly colder than normal
Body and bedroom temperature can profoundly impact sleep. Well that explains why you go to sleep with a quilt but wake up with one foot sticking out, now doesn’t it? In fact, one study found that bedroom temperature affected the quality of sleep more than external sound.
For the most part about 20 degrees Celsius is preferred by the majority of people. However, you should adjust the AC to your preferences and habits. To sleep well at the end of the day you need to be comfortable. If that means taking a book, having a scented candle burn or listening to music then so be it.
Make your bedroom dark, very dark
Sun rays from the first break of light can begin to activate the body, and cause some of us to rise before we’re ready. You can use darkening curtains/ black out curtains to keep your body in a restful slumber until it’s time to wake up and start the day. A black out curtain is a surefire way to ensure no light disturbs your sleep. However, if your mother or sibling barges leaving doors wide open there’s not much you can do save for locking your door.
Another option is grabbing an eye mask. Some people may find it uncomfortable to sleep with something on their face while others make nothing of it. If you belong to the latter you can get an eye mask made from various materials and having different densities. Many people swear by eye masks and drift off into a slumber with their help.
Write in a journal at night
Studies show that writing in a journal provides numerous benefits. It enables people to pen down their feelings, emotions, activities during the day, and even write what they want to do in the following days. Maintaining a journal brings in clarity and provides a place for you to put down thoughts which clears up head-space, which does not leave room for anxiety and stress. A clear mind contributes to sound sleep and as a bonus you can systematically work towards your daily goals and keep yourself accountable.
Still not sold? Well a study of 41 college students found that maintaining and regularly writing in their journal resulted in reduced bedtime worry and stress. This led to increased sleep time with remarkable improvements in quality of sleep. It takes about 10 minutes each night as will soon become an indispensable part of your routine. Plus some things are meant to be in your journal and not Instagram feed.
Exercise regularly during the day
The benefits of exercise are numerous and never seem to end. Now along with all the great stuff about weight loss, muscle gain, and improved productivity comes the benefit of sleep. Exercise is even known to reduce symptoms of insomnia. Studies show that exercise can reduce the time required to fall asleep by 55%, night wakefulness by 30% and even increase the total amount of time you spend asleep.
Avoid exercising too late in the night as it has a stimulation effect by increasing hormones such as epinephrine and adrenaline. However a light walk after dinner helps improve digestion and overall heart function. When it comes to sleep, exercise causes fatigue which is another reason your body will demand proper rest. Setting a schedule for your exercise regime will likely help you stick to your sleeping schedule and improve your sleep over time.
There you have it! 10 ways to improve your sleep that you can use from today! No more late nights, twisting and turning, or waking up groggy the following day. When you sleep well you increase your performance and can start your mornings feeling fresh and energized!