Getting enough sleep is essential for physical and mental well-being. First of all, sleep plays important role in several brain functions, including concentration and cognition. Sleep quality also has a big impact on your productivity and mood.
Furthermore, getting adequate sleep helps lower the risk of health problems, like depression, heart disease, excessive weight gain, and type 2 diabetes.
Sleep contributes not only to your health but also to your appearance. In fact, poor sleep has been linked to increased inflammation in the body and premature aging. A reason for this is that during sleep your body renews and repairs itself. Regular poor sleep may hinder your body’s ability to rejuvenate.
In this article, we’re going to talk about great ways to improve your sleep. So, if you make your health a priority and are looking for ways to get a good night’s sleep, these simple yet effective tips will help you achieve this goal.
Fix your sleep schedule
For mental and physical well-being, it’s recommended that an adult gets at least 7 hours of sleep. Your individual sleep needs will largely depend on various factors, such as your age, daily activities, and the overall state of your health.
It’s also important that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. Maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle helps optimize your circadian rhythm, also known as the ‘internal body clock’. Disruptions in your circadian rhythm may result in poor concentration, insomnia, tiredness, daytime sleepiness, mood disorders and other conditions. Therefore, adjusting your sleep routine to create a strong circadian rhythm is essential for better health and sleep quality.
Pay attention to your eating habits before bedtime
If you want a good night’s sleep, it’s better to limit the consumption of caffeinated drinks in the afternoon. Eating large and heavy meals for dinner can also sabotage your sleep. Choosing light meals for dinner is a better option.
When you have dinner is no less important than what you have for dinner. Eating a full meal right before bedtime may result in indigestion, weight gain, heartburn and can even interfere with sleep. Therefore, it’s better to eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before bed. Also, consider eating light snacks shortly before bedtime in case you missed your dinner. They will not only help you cope with hunger but also promote sleep.
Optimize your bedroom for better sleep
Your bedroom environment plays an important role in managing the quality of your sleep. There are a few essential things you need to do to improve your sleep environment.
- Limit your exposure to blue light in the evening
Blue light emitted by electronics can not only trigger eyestrain but also cause poor sleep. According to the research, blue light suppresses the body’s release of melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone. The levels of melatonin rise in the evening, making you fall asleep quicker. Blue light delays the production of melatonin for a few hours. This reduces the quality and quantity of sleep. That’s why it’s important to cut the usage of electronic devices before bedtime.
- Make sure your room is as dark as possible
Keeping your room dark at night is important for better sleep, as any light that comes through the window can affect your body’s production of melatonin and, as a result, make you stay awake.
To make your room dark, you can invest in one of the popular solutions that help block outdoor light: blackout curtains, privacy films, aluminium foil or blackout shades. Make sure that the gaps beneath the door and also around the edges and above the window frames are filled so that they don’t let the light in.
You may also want to consider putting on an eye cover for sleep. Sleep mask can not only help block out light but also protect your skin around the eyes from wrinkles.
- Adjust temperature in the room
If your bedroom is too hot or too cold, it can affect your sleep. Therefore, it’s important to set the temperature at a comfortable level. According to the research, an ideal room temperature range for sleep is at 15 to 19 degrees Celsius for adults. You might want to set the temperature above or below this range. However, keeping your bedroom cooler is a better choice since it helps to promote sleep and has other health benefits, too.
- Choose comfortable mattress and bedding
If you have back or neck pain after sleep, it might be a sign that you need to change your mattress. A good, comfortable bed with the right mattress will provide a proper spinal alignment and improve your sleep quality. As a result, you will wake up refreshed and full of energy.
What about pillows? Just like the right mattress, the right pillow can make all the difference for a good night’s sleep. It must not only make you feel comfortable during sleep but also provide adequate support for your head and neck and help keep your spine in natural alignment. Consider these criteria when choosing a pillow.
Bedsheets, pillowcases and bedspreads also contribute to the quality of your sleep. Therefore, it makes sense to give preference to natural materials. To make the right bedding choice, check out this guide.
- Block out external noise
According to Sleep Foundation, noise exposure has a negative effect on sleep. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your bedroom is as quiet as possible. Wearing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones is one of the best solutions for dealing with noise while sleeping. Don’t feel comfortable wearing earplugs at night? Then you might want to make use of other effective ways to block out noise while you sleep.
Include relaxing activities before bedtime
Your activity before bedtime is as important as your environment. However, not all late-night activities have a positive effect on your sleep. There is evidence that intense workouts right before bed may increase alertness and, as a result, make it harder to fall asleep. That’s why it’s better to do high-intensity exercises at least 4 hours before bedtime.
Low-intensity exercises completed shortly before bedtime have the opposite effect, though. Slow-paced workouts like yoga, pilates, stretching, or meditation will not only help you stay fit but also relax and promote deep sleep.
Going for a walk in the evening is one of the best ways to relax and reduce anxiety after a stressful day. In addition, inhaling fresh air while you walk will help increase your blood oxygen level, which impacts many processes in your body, including sleep.
According to the research, taking a warm bath or shower an hour or two before bedtime can also help you sleep better. First of all, it helps relax your body and mind. Another benefit of a bedtime shower or bath is that it aids in the process of regulating the ideal body temperature for sleep.
Manage your thoughts and relax your mind
Although stress is common in our everyday lives, having negative thoughts and worries before bedtime may actually disrupt your sleep and keep you awake at night.
There are several ways to help you cope with negative thoughts and relax your mind for better sleep:
- Use guided meditation program
- Listen to calm music, white noise, or binaural beats
- Practice gratitude journaling
- Try deep breathing techniques
- Don’t watch TV news/read newspapers right before bedtime
Also, read these tips from sleep experts on how to quiet a racing mind and fall asleep faster.
Use natural sleep aids and supplements
With so many people struggling to sleep at night, sleeping pills have become extremely popular. However, most sleep drugs are only useful for the short term. Furthermore, taking them regularly for nightly relaxation can have potentially harmful side effects in the long run.
So, if you want to improve your sleep without relying on prescription drugs, consider trying sleep-promoting supplements.
Here is the list of the most popular supplements for sleep:
- Valerian root
- Ginkgo Biloba
Supplements are a safer alternative to sleeping pills and their intake doesn’t result in addiction. However, despite the lower risk of side effects, you should do your research and consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
Getting quality sleep on a regular basis is essential to every process in the body. A good night’s sleep not only helps our bodies and minds to recover and rejuvenate, but it also impacts our overall well-being and quality of life.
Written by Natalie Myhalnytska
About the Author
Natalie Myhalnytska is a founder and editor at Magazine MN, online media and marketing professional. Natalie holds BA in International Economic Relations and writes on topics related to personal development, psychology and wellness.
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