10 Tips For Better SleepI
Sleep is essential to our health and our ability to age well. But sometimes, getting a good night’s sleep is not as easy as it sounds. In fact, one study says that 7 out of 10 Americans do not get the type of sleep that makes them feel rested, restored, and ready to go the next day.
A number of factors, such as stress, shift work, sleep apnea, and insomnia, contribute to the inability to achieve good “sleep quality,” which basically means how well you are sleeping. The Sleep Foundation says falling asleep within 30 minutes after getting into bed, sleeping throughout the night or waking up no more than once, and going back to sleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up are among several characteristics of good sleep quality.
Some studies have found that poor sleep quality increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and other physical and mental health conditions.
Some sleep-related issues require medical treatment. However, Harvard Medical School provides 10 the following steps to help you overcome general sleep problems and sleep better:
1. Maintain a consistent sleep routine and schedule
Sleep experts say that going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning keeps the circadian rhythm in balance. The circadian rhythm, also referred to as the body’s internal clock helps to regulate the sleep cycle. What also helps is establishing a bedtime routine that settles you down, such as turning off the television and electronic digital devices, listening to peaceful music, or doing deep breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques.
2. Use the bed only for sleep and sex
The bed has a purpose, and it’s easy to use it for other reasons. For instance, sending last-minute text messages, eating a late-night snack, or catching up on work emails—all while in a comfortable bed—keeps us mentally alert and prevents us from falling asleep at our regularly scheduled time.
3. Avoid caffeine before going to bed
To get a good night’s rest, the Sleep Foundation recommends cutting off caffeine intake at least six hours before bedtime since caffeine can cause sleep deprivation. And sleep deprivation, in turn, can cause sleepiness the next day. What’s more, caffeine is a diuretic that causes frequent urination. So, consuming caffeine can increase the need to get up and urinate during the night.
4. Stay physically active during the day
Studies suggest that physical activity is directly related to sleep. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, and intense bike riding, as well as resistance exercise, such as lifting weights, contribute to a good night’s rest. Regular physical activity during the day helps you to fall asleep faster, increases the time spent in restorative deep sleep, and keeps you from waking up during the night less often.
5. Limit naps during the day
We’re all familiar with feelings of tiredness and sleepiness that come a few hours after eating a meal. And the only way to make those feelings go away is to take a nap. According to the Sleep Foundation, taking a brief nap of no more than 20 minutes in the day can be refreshing and restorative. But, the timing of naps is important. For instance, studies have found the best time to take a brief nap is in the early to mid-afternoon. If you sleep too long in the late afternoon or evening, you won’t feel tired enough to fall asleep at night.
6. Limit tobacco use or quit smoking
Some people smoke cigarettes or use nicotine, in other forms, to relax or calm themselves down. Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, is a stimulant that can keep you awake. Studies have found a link between cigarette smoking and sleep. According to a 2013 study, smoking may increase the risk of snoring and sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and restarts many times during sleep. Another study showed that sleep improved one year after people quit smoking.
7. Be mindful of alcohol consumption
Some people enjoy having a nightcap to top off their day because alcohol has a relaxing effect and may help people fall asleep. However, some studies have shown that alcohol can contribute to sleep apnea because it causes the throat muscles to relax, which creates more resistance during breathing, according to the Sleep Foundation. Moderate amounts of alcohol decrease sleep quality by 24 percent, while high amounts of alcohol decrease sleep quality by 39.2 percent, the foundation reports.
8. Optimize your sleep surroundings
It may sound like a drastic move, but sleep experts recommend removing items that would cause sleep disruptions, such as a television, telephone, and digital devices, from your room. The ideal sleeping environment is quiet, dark, and relatively cool with minimal clutter. This is a way of announcing that the bedroom is meant for sleeping.
9. Get up if you cannot sleep
Sleep is sometimes elusive. So, if you wake up and cannot get back to sleep after 20 minutes, there are a few techniques that may help you relax: Read a book or an article, move around or walk to another room, and try relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation, or try the tried-and-true method of thinking about something boring, like counting sheep.
10. Avoid taking sleeping pills
Some doctors prescribe sleeping pills for a limited period of time to overcome insomnia. According to the Mayo Clinic, prescription sleeping pills have risks, particularly for people with certain medical conditions. However, Mayo Clinic experts say that behavioral changes, such as exercising regularly, avoiding naps during the day, and avoiding caffeine, are among the best treatments for insomnia.
While sleep experts all agree on the importance of sleep, “sleep quality” varies widely based on a person’s lifestyle, habits, and needs. Nonetheless, practicing good sleep habits consistently will help you to improve your move, give you energy and optimize your mental and physical health.