The quality of your sleep is as important than how much you sleep. The quality of your resting hours has a dramatic effect on how you will feel while you are awake. This is similar to the fact that fatigue you experience throughout the day and the difficulties you experience while trying to sleep are created by your lifestyle choices and daily routine. Mix and match some of the following tips and figure out which ones help you feel more productive, create emotional balance, increase your mental sharpness, increase your energy throughout the day, and improve the sleep you receive through the night.
Support your body’s natural rhythms
One of the most important strategies to improve your sleep is getting in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm. By keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule, you will feel more energized and refreshed than by sleeping the same amount of hours at different times. Altering your schedule by just an hour or two is able to create difficulty.
Try to get in the habit of waking up and going to sleep at the same times every day. This will help both optimize the quality of your sleep and set your body’s internal clock. Choose a time to go to sleep when you normally feel tired, helping you toss and turn less. You should be able to wake up naturally without an alarm if you are getting enough sleep. If you still need an alarm clock in order to wake up, you may need to go to bed at an earlier time.
Avoid sleeping in, regardless of what day of the week it is. By having different sleeping routines throughout the week and during the weekend, you are more likely to experience jet-lag like symptoms and have difficulty getting back into routine. If you do have to have a late night, rather than sleeping in try taking a brief nap later through the day. This will allow you to get some extra sleep without disrupting your routine.
If you are experiencing difficulty falling and staying asleep throughout the night, taking naps can make things worse. While a nap is a good way to make up for missed sleep, try to keep them between 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon.
If you find yourself getting tired long before bedtime, try doing something that is mildly stimulating. Giving in and going to sleep early may result in waking up throughout the night and having trouble falling back asleep.
Control your exposure to light
Your sleep-wake cycle is aided by melatonin, which is controlled by light exposure. Darkness causes your brain to secrete more of this natural hormone, causing you to feel sleepy in a darker atmosphere.
Throughout the day, make sure to expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. The sooner you do this after waking up the more productive it will be. During daylight hours, spend as much time as possible outdoors. If stuck inside, allow as much sunlight in your home or work area as possible.
During the night, avoid bright screens within two hours of your established bedtime. The TV, phone, tablet, and computer screens can be especially disruptive. If these have to be used, you may want to turn down the level of brightness on your screen. Avoid watching late-night television. Many programs will stimulate your body instead of relaxing it. The light from the screen may also suppress melatonin. When it is time for bed, make sure that the bedroom is dark. Try using a sleep mask once you make it to your bed.
One of the easiest ways to minimize your exposure to the blue light spectrum that comes from electronics and disturbs your sleep is to wear glasses that block the blue light. This method is recommended by Dave Asprey of Bulletproof Diet fame. The glasses below can be purchased cheaply on Amazon and can significantly improve the quality of your sleep if you use them in the hours leading up to your bed time.
Glasses that block harmful blue light from electronics.
Get regular exercise
People who exercise on a regular basis are known to both have more energy through at the day and sleep better at night. The symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea will improve with the help of exercise. Exercising will also increase the amount of time spent in deeper, more restorative stages of sleep. Your sleep benefits the most when you exercise more vigorously. However, even light exercise such as a brief walk throughout the neighborhood each day will improve the quality of your sleep. It is not uncommon for it to take a few months of regular exercise before it will provide its full effect on the quality of your sleep. Focus on developing an exercise routine you will be able to stick to and remember the importance of patience.
Timing is important in order to create a positive outcome on the quality of your sleep. Your metabolism will speed up as a result of activity, which will raise the temperature of your body and your hormones such as cortisol will be stimulated. This is productive if done through the morning or afternoon, but it will interfere with your sleep if done too late at in the evening. Try to complete any serious exercise at least 3 hours before you want to go to bed. If you still have a difficult time falling asleep, schedule your workouts even earlier in your day. Sleep will be promoted with light activity such as stretching or yoga in the evening.
Be smart about the food and liquid you consume
The quality of sleep you get is affected by your eating habits through the day, especially as bed time is approaching. Limit the amount of caffeine you consume. Sleep problems can be created by caffeine up to ten hours before you are ready for bed.
Avoid larger portions at night time meals. By simply avoiding rich foods within 2-3 hours of bedtime and eating dinner earlier in the evening, you will sleep better at night. Heartburn resulting from acidic or spicy foods can also create problems falling asleep.
Try avoiding alcohol before you attempt to go to sleep. There is nothing wrong with a drink to relax and take away stress, but when consumed too late at night it has the ability to interfere with your sleep cycle affecting the quality of your sleep. Too many other liquids during the night may also create problems, mainly getting up and down to use the restroom.
Clear your head and wind down
Being unable to sleep or repeatedly waking up through the night can often be a result of anger, worry, or stress experienced throughout the day. These factors have the ability to produce negative effects on the sleep you get, or often the sleep you try to receive.
If your nighttime thoughts are dominated by chronic worrying, there are steps you can take in order to view life with a more positive perspective. Even lying in bed and counting sheep all night is healthier than staying up because of stress or worry.
Stress management can be beneficial towards school, work, and even family members who create stress in your life. By learning how to handle stress in a positive way, effectively managing your time, and maintaining a calm and positive outlook, you will be able to sleep better at night.
Slowing down your brain can be difficult at night when it becomes over stimulated throughout the day. Our brains receive extra, unneeded stress by simple activities such as interrupting our schedule in order to check emails, social media, and cell phones. Try to schedule specific times for these activities and concentrate on accomplishing one task at a time. This will help keep your brain from growing accustomed to seeking stimulation, which will make it easier for you to unwind.
Improve the environment where you sleep
Your brain will receive a strong signal that the day is coming to an end and it is time to start relaxing with a peaceful bedtime routine. The quality of your sleep can often be greatly affected for the better with a few simple changes to the atmosphere you sleep in.
Try tuning down the volume and level of noise at bedtime approaches. If noise created by a new baby, the neighborhood you live in, or traffic, try to block the sound out with a fan or sound machine. If neither of these do the trick you can always try using earplugs to help.
A cooler room will also help you fall asleep. Around 65 degrees is the temperature most people sleep best. Sleep can be interfered with when the temperature of a room is set either too high or too low.
Limit your activities in bed for sleeping and sex. By avoiding watching TV, using a computer, or working in bed, your brain will grow accustomed to the bed being a sign that it is time to go to sleep. This will make it easier to unwind and help you fall asleep quicker once in bed.
Methods to fall back asleep
Waking up briefly throughout the night is normal, but if you have difficulty falling back asleep, these tips could help.
Although it may often be difficult, try not to worry or create stress over falling back asleep. Stress will only add to the inability of your body to fall asleep again.
Do not focus so much on getting sleep. Instead, make it your goal to simply relax.
If you have been awake for more than 15 minutes and are still struggling to fall back asleep, get out of bed and do something non stimulating such as reading.