Tips to improve sleep
Sleep is vital for health, and this is a well-known fact. Not getting enough rest triggers a chain reaction of adverse effects throughout our bodies. It all starts with tiredness, but it can grow to serious issues such as the inability to focus and perform deep, prolonged work and other memory-related problems. Furthermore, not getting enough sleep can disrupt the hormone balance, and it affects recovery, which hits athletes the hardest.
Sleeping should be a natural activity, a normal thing to do, and yet so many of us suffer from insomnia. In this article, we will give you a few simple to follow tips to help you sleep better. Try to implement some (or all) of them, and see if they help you get more, better quality sleep.
Get into a routine
If your work or school allows you, it is a good idea to go to bed, and rise at the same time, every day. Ideally, you should get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but if that is not possible, at least try to go to bed, and wake up at the same time.
For most of us, the first part is the problem, because work forces us to wake up roughly at the same time. During the weekends we get back home at dawn. And during workdays, some good movie always comes up that grabs our attention, and we go to sleep one hour later. Or, we start chatting on social media, and we forget ourselves, ending up in bed much later than we were supposed to. All that adds up, and chronic sleep deprivation, and trouble with insomnia start creeping up.
Make your bedtime routine sacred. If you need to, set up a “go to bed” alarm. When it sounds, you mute your phone, turn off the TV, and you go to bed. No excuses.
Limit light and sound
Noise and light pollution is something many of us have trouble with, especially if we live in urban environments. The fact is that in big cities, the night is never completely dark, and complete silence is non-existent. Street lights are always on, and even some of our in-house gadgets (like a router) have non-stop blinking lights. And, you can always hear cars at night, dogs barking, or a loud neighbor on the floor above. All that takes its toll on sleep. Even if you can fall asleep, all that noise and light hinders the sleep quality. Luckily, the solutions are very obvious.
Blackout shades are a must-have in our opinion. WIth them, you will completely block the light coming from outside. If for whatever reason you can’t install them on your windows, there is an even more practical solution – eye masks. It will take you a night or two to get used to them, but once you do, your sleep quality will become ten times better. And they are extremely affordable.
For noise elimination, earplugs are your best bet. Just make sure you get noise-canceling earplugs, not those intended for swimming, that are blocking water, there is a difference. Try to get reusable/washable ones, since you are going to use them every night.
But, if you don’t like, or can’t use earplugs for whatever reason, don’t worry, there is a solution. Try getting a white noise generator. These generate soothing sounds such as wind, rainfall, waves, or similar, that will help you fall asleep but will also disguise other sounds. If you can’t afford white-noise machines, a simple fan will do just fine, and it will help you cool off (we will get to that later).
Hit the gym!
Our bodies repair during sleep. But, if you live a sedentary life, there is not a lot of rebuilding going on. For that reason, get a gym membership and some neat gym bottoms, and start exercising today.
When you pump iron, your muscles get damaged, in a good way, and they get repaired when you sleep. Also, physical activity will get you even more tired, but again, in a good way. Tiredness from physical activity is healthy and is entirely unlike stress and mental exhaustion. After a great workout, your body will crave two things – food and rest. That is why it is a good idea to incorporate exercise into your routine.
However, make sure you don’t work out at least 2 hours before bed so that you can fall asleep more easily.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
You drink coffee in the morning to kickstart your day, and you already know how it works and feels. But, what you probably don’t know is that you shouldn’t drink any caffeinated drinks 6 hours before bed. Often times, caffeine is hidden in various sodas and energy drinks, and it all can have an adverse effect on your sleep cycle. In fact, even drinking water just before bed can negatively affect sleep (as the urge to go to the toilet might wake you up), let alone caffeinated beverages.
The same goes for alcohol. Although when intoxicated you seem to sleep like a baby, that is sleep of extremely poor quality. For our bodies, alcohol is a toxin, and our organs (especially liver) go into overdrive until every last of it is completely metabolized. That is why you wake up feeling super tired even after a full night of sleeping while drunk. Try not to drink alcohol in the hours before bed.
Ditch long and late afternoon naps
Although naps can help you feel awesome and can benefit your overall health, as we mentioned in our previous article, naping at the wrong time can hurt your main, night sleep.
People make two mistakes. First one is napping for too long (read: for hours), and the second one is napping late in the afternoon, or evening.
Go ahead, take a nap. But make sure it ends at least 6 hours before your usual bedtime. Also, make sure it is a power nap, 20-45 minutes maximum. You will feel refreshed, without that grogginess upon waking up, and you won’t mess up your night sleeping cycle.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, try getting rid of that thick blanket. In fact, research shows that sleeping in a colder room will tremendously boost your sleep quality.
If your spouse refuses to keep the AC on during the night, you can try sleeping naked, or at least uncovered. That’s a simple hack that can help you sleep so much better.
Eat in time
Lastly, food. It is important not to eat just before bed, or even worse, eat in the middle of the night. That will put you into a vicious circle – by eating late at night, you are at risk of gaining weight. Also, once it becomes a habit, you will start waking up at night in order to eat, which will lower the amount of sleep you get and ruin its quality. And when your sleep gets imbalanced, it starts disrupting your hormones, which can trigger into even more weight gain. And with more weight, your body will crave more food, and the endless cycle of eating and poor sleep will ruin your health. On the other hand, going to bed when feeling super hungry won’t help you fall asleep either.
The best strategy is to eat a light meal around two hours before bed. That way you will have enough in your bloodstream to keep you full until you fall asleep, but you won’t have too much inside to trouble you, or to make you fat.
There you have it, folks, those were our simple tips aimed towards helping you sleep better. Try to implement them, and see how it works for you. We bet that things will get significantly better just by going to bed at the same time and ditching that late cup of coffee.
Of course, insomnia is a serious issue and sometimes is caused by things that are much more complicated than watching movies late. If you suffer from it for too long, and can’t seem to find any fixes, don’t hesitate anymore, and visit a doctor.
Getting good quality sleep is the foundation stone of good health, and it is not something to be taken lightly. For that reason, you should do your best, and try to get those eight hours, every single night.