Do you feel groggy in the morning? Like a lot of people, you are probably not getting enough sleep. You don’t have to suffer from insomnia to feel the effects of sleep deprivation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the United States is in the middle of a sleep-loss epidemic. Eight out of ten Americans reveal that they would feel better if they had at least one more hour of sleep. Over the past years, sleep quantity and quality have declined.
If you want to optimize your health as well as your well-being, you need to get a good night’s sleep. Here are 15 tips to get better sleep.
Keep a Schedule
A University of Alabama study showed that maintaining a daily schedule leads to better sleep. It didn’t matter what time of day the activities were scheduled, as long as they occurred at a regular time.
You can easily make eight hours of quality sleep part of your daily routine by scheduling it. Make sleep a part of your to-do list.
Plan your bedtime the same way you plan other appointments. Be strict about your sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up on time each day to keep your body clock on track. It will also promote your natural drive to sleep.
Maintaining a consistent healthy sleep schedule for hitting the bed and waking up should be a part of your routine.
Find the Perfect Pillow
There are factors to consider before you buy the perfect pillow. This includes your sleep position, size, and personal preferences. If you wake up with a headache or arm pain, perhaps you should try using latex pillows instead of feather pillows. A study conducted by Gordon, Grimmer-Somers, and Trott recommend latex pillows due to its consistent good performance in reducing the frequency of getting scapular or arm pain as well as headache upon waking up.
A back-sleeper with great posture needs a thinner pillow to maintain head to body alignment. Meanwhile, a large side-sleeper may need two to three firm pillows for ample distance between the outside shoulder and the ear. A stomach sleeper needs a very thin, almost flat pillow to avoid lower back pain.
Finding the perfect pillow can eliminate headaches, neck and should pain, and discomfort as well as promote healthy sleep.
Create a Haven
If your bedroom is not a relaxing and comfortable place, you are not going to spend a lot of time there. Your bedroom should be dark, cool, uncluttered, and quiet to make it comfortable for sleeping. Maintain a temperature of 60 to 65 degrees.
Start dimming the lights around your house a few hours before you hit the bed. Consider investing in blackout blinds. Try earplugs if the noise disturbs you. Keep your bedroom neat and tidy and avoid working in the same place where you sleep.
The key factor in making your bedroom comfortable is the bed itself. Jacobson, Boolani, and Smith found that compared to beds that are five years or older, new bedding systems provided better sleep quality and reduced back discomfort. The beds used in the study were described as having these attributes: “contained a medium-firm sleep surface, foam-encased bonnell spring unit, densified fiber pad, super-soft foam, damask cover, semiflex foundation, and slick fiber.”
Creating a haven will help you keep calm, relax, and sleep well.
Eat Snooze Foods
The food that you eat can dramatically affect the amount and quality of sleep. Some foods can keep you up at night. Eating food which are good sources of serotonin and melatonin can set the sleep-wake cycles.
Honey contains orexin which reduces alertness. Warm milk and chia seeds contain tryptophan which provides natural calming effects. Bananas contain magnesium and potassium to help you relax your muscles and lower blood pressure while you sleep. Foods that can boost melatonin production include rice, oats, barley and pineapples. Salmon, tofu, nuts, and turkey contain tryptophan which is an amino acid required to synthesize serotonin.
Never go to bed hungry. Try and eat an early evening meal and get a sleep-inducing bedtime snack before you hit the sack.
Eating sleep-inducing foods not only creates a natural calming effect, but also lowers your blood pressure and heart rate.
Start a Sleep Journal
Sometimes, you are not aware of your bad sleeping habits. The National Sleep Foundation showed that a sleep journal can help you in uncovering several factors leading to poor sleep.
Write in your journal before going to sleep and after waking up the next morning. List each complete hour you were able to sleep in bed. Take note of the activities you did before going to sleep. Keep the journal for at least two weeks.
Look back over the past days and nights. Check the factors that may have influenced your sleep: Drinking alcohol or caffeine, exercising, taking sleeping pills, or eating for example.
Keeping a sleep journal can help you determine the activities that you need to avoid because they affect your sleep.
Follow the 20-Minute Rule
If you cannot fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of lying in bed, don’t stay in bed trying harder to drift off. The University of Glasgow revealed that the longer you toss and turn in bed, the more anxious and frustrated you will become. Tossing and turning in bed will take you longer to unwind, relax, and eventually sleep.
Get out of bed, leave the bedroom, and do something unstimulating, such as reading a book or knitting. These activities can help you feel sleepy again.
Following the 20-Minute rule diverts your mind from anxiety and stress.
Avoid Alcohol Before Going to Sleep
Alcohol has two effects. It can put you to sleep due to the production of adenosine, the sleep-inducing chemical in the brain. However, it will subside once you have enough sleep, and can wake you up after three to four hours.
As a depressant, alcohol reverses its sleep-inducing effects after a few hours. The reversal may cause you to miss out on valuable REM rest, where vivid dreams occur. With less REM, you will wake up feeling unfocused, groggy, and tired.
Steer clear of alcohol before you sleep. A few drinks may help you get to sleep, but you will most likely pay for it in the morning.
Use Guided Imagery
Instead of focusing on fearful images, visualizations, and anxiousness, focus on calm and restful images. A study shows that guided imagery is a relaxation and stress-relieving technique that can help you effectively address your stress, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. It also lessens the tension in your body.
Imagine yourself in your favorite location, climbing the mountains, or walking by the ocean. Notice the sensory details: The color of the sky, the texture of the sand, and the warmth of the sun as it touches your skin. Visualize this place for a few minutes before you go to sleep.
Using guided imagery can help you unwind, relieve stress, and fall asleep.
Keep the Clock, Just Don’t Look at It
Alarm clocks are helpful in keeping your sleep schedules regular. Waking up the same day every day is beneficial for your internal biological clock. A study reveals that alarms can provide peace of mind. It gives you a safer feeling during the night.
The act of checking the time throughout the night can disrupt your sleep. If this is a habit you have, turn the clock around or cover it so that you cannot see the time. You will feel better if you are not worrying about the time. Let the alarm tell you when it is time to get up.
Use an alarm clock to keep your schedule consistent. Keep a regular bed and wake time. Do not set your alarm early and keep hitting the snooze button as it disrupts sleep.
Keeping an alarm clock normalizes your sleep pattern.
Take a Bath Before Going to Bed
Taking a relaxing bath or shower can help you sleep better. A study suggests that bathing before sleeping may improve sleep quality particularly in seniors. Take a hot bath or shower before going to bed. If you do not want to take a full bath at night, you can dip your feet in hot water to help you relax. Using Epsom salt helps flush toxins and heavy metals from your cells. It eases stress and muscle pain to promote relaxation.
Taking a hot bath or shower may enhance the quality of your sleep.
Exercise improves your health as well as your quality of sleep. You may remember at some point in your life when you had a good night sleep after a spirited workout. Science backs up the connection between regular exercise and improved sleep quality. A study conducted on 2,600 participants revealed that 2 and a half hours of moderate to vigorous activity per week resulted in 65 percent enhancement in sleep quality. The participants also reported that they were less sleepy during the day in comparison to those with less physical movement.
Although daily exercise is the key to a good night’s sleep, performing it late in the day can also cause problems falling asleep for some people. That’s because exercise increases your adrenaline, epinephrine, and alertness.
Exercise during daylight hours to ensure a good night’s sleep. You can also practice low-intensity yoga, tai-chi, and stretching which can calm your mind.
Regular exercise is a safe and effective activity to help improve the quality of your sleep.
About 90% of the population of the United States consumes caffeine on a daily basis. One dose of caffeine can enhance your energy and focus. Athletes drink caffeine before their games to improve game performance.
However, when you consume caffeine late in the day, it stimulates your nervous system and stops your body from naturally relaxing during the night. A study shows that consuming any form of caffeine up to six hours before going to bed can worsen your sleep quality.
Do not drink coffee, tea or soda six hours or less before bedtime. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6 to 8 hours.
Eliminating caffeine can improve your sleep quality.
Reduce Time of Naps
Short power naps are proven to be beneficial. They can boost your memory and enhance your creativity. However, long and irregular naps can negatively affect your sleep.
Sleeping during the day can confuse your internal body clock. Consequently, you may struggle to sleep during the night. One study reported that people feel sleepier during the day after taking multiple daytime naps.
Minimize your naps to less than 30 minutes. Taking a nap for less than 30 minutes can enhance your daytime brain function, but taking longer ones can affect your health.
Reducing the frequency and length of naps will minimize your risks of suffering from disrupted and poor-quality sleep.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure
Prolonged blue light exposure at night has detrimental effects on sleep. According to a study, nighttime light tricks your brain into thinking that it is still daylight. Light exposure, especially blue light, reduces hormones such as melatonin that help you relax and get more quality sleep.
Electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and smartphones emit blue light. Stop watching TV and using your electronic devices before going to bed. Turn off any bright light at least 2 hours before you sleep. Download an app like the flux to help block the blue light from your computer. There are also special eyeglasses you can use called blue-blockers.
Reducing blue light at night regulates your circadian rhythms that are responsible for brain activity, cell regeneration, and hormone production
Forget Your Stress and Worries
If you are bringing all the causes of stress from your job and daily life to bed with you, you will not sleep well. A survey reveals that stress may interfere with sleep, keeping people from getting the required sleep to stay healthy.
Minimize stress by maintaining the bedroom conducive to rest. Do not take your work materials or your phone. As much as you can, keep yourself from thinking about anything connected to your work or school while you are in your bedroom.
You can control your stress, worries, and anxieties by keeping a worry journal. Outside of the bedroom, write down the things that are bothering you so you can work on them and sleep better, instead of bringing them to bed.
Forgetting your stress and worries helps you sleep faster, improves sleep quality, and sleep better at night.