Finding ways to adjust your life to make you both healthier and happier is an increasingly common part of everyday existence. However, it is also the case that you’ll often be presented with faddish approaches, questionable supplements, and even so-called “experts” to help make this a reality. Yet, one of the most effective ways to improve the state of your life and health is getting some good quality sleep.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet it is something that a large number of people seem to struggle with. When you live a busy life — increased career expectations, balancing professional and home duties, trying to have some kind of social life — an effective and consistent sleep schedule can seem kind of elusive. But it’s important to understand that it is not only achievable but vital to your ongoing wellbeing.
Let’s take a moment to review some of the practical methods you start implementing today that can help you to both sleeps longer and sleep better.
Some of the most important elements that help to make certain you get the best quality of sleep occurs before you even get to your bed. The lifestyle choices you make play a key role in helping you to get the length and standard of rest that your body and mind need to thrive. As such, part of your focus should be on stepping out of the confines of your home and work situation and being active.
The type of activity you engage in can impact the type of sleep you get each night. It doesn’t mean that you have to push yourself to exhaustion each day so that you can’t help but fall into a deep sleep. However, studies have shown that moderate daily cardiovascular exercise — taking a walk, cycling, aerobics — has been found over time to reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep and increase the time you spend sleeping. Even activities that are less strenuous and more focused or meditative, like yoga, can positively impact sleep quality when applied as part of a routine.
Another important factor in your activities is location. While you can certainly exercise inside your own home, breaking away from that increases the potential sleep benefits. There is a significant amount of research that suggests maintaining a close relationship with nature can be beneficial to your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Specifically, taking regular time outdoors in natural light can help you to regulate your circadian rhythm, which boosts the quality of sleep. When combined with a regular commitment to some moderate exercise, you can start to maximize the quality and quantity of your nightly rest.
Consider Your Diet
What you put inside of your body is certainly going to impact your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are also various direct links to your nutrition and high-quality sleep cycle. These effects aren’t one-way either. Your approach to your dietary needs can improve your rest periods, and in turn, your sleep helps you to regulate your weight, metabolism, and digestion.
Therefore it is important to be mindful about keeping a balanced diet. A recent study found that participants who were eating less fiber, and greater amounts of sugars and saturated fats were experiencing markedly disturbed sleep. So what can you do? Well, firstly make sure that you’re eating the correct amount of fiber — Women need 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, men require 30 to 38 grams a day. You can get this from a combination of various fruits, vegetables, and grains.
You should also avoid eating and drinking substances that might cause digestive disruption during the night. Alcohol might seem as though it gets you to sleep faster, but later on, in the night, you can find yourself waking up, particularly if you take beverages that are diuretics. Spicy foods might also lead to you experiencing heartburn, as will acidic foods such as spaghetti sauce or tomatoes. These are fine earlier on in the day, but you should certainly stay clear of them for 3 hours or so before bedtime.
One of the reasons that many people don’t get the sleep they need to thrive is that there is a lot of stress and pressure in their lives. The concern and anxiety this induces can lead to you going to bed later, waking earlier, and even having disrupted sleep when you do eventually drift off. As such, an effective way to improve your rest periods is setting strict boundaries in certain areas of your life.
Work and home duties are important focuses for boundaries. Particularly as the propensity to work from home has risen, there has been a tendency for people to work longer hours and for the lines between professional and personal time to bleed together. This is a recipe for stress and disturbed sleep. Start setting clear and strict boundaries between work and home. Talk to your employer and make it clear when you’ll be starting and finishing work, and stick to this. If you still feel as though you have too much on your plate, consider the possibility of outsourcing activities to others. This doesn’t necessarily have to be work tasks; it can also be chores such as grocery shopping or meal preparation. But even a couple of fewer tasks can give you some breathing room.
Your commitment to boundaries also has to include regular breaks. Whether it is from your childcare duties or your professional tasks, taking adequate breaks can mean that you avoid the exhaustion that can lead to disrupted sleep. It’s also important when taking these breaks not to nap. If you’re already experiencing poor sleep quality, those little snatches of snoozing throughout the day can cause you to stay awake for longer at night.
How you approach the time leading up to sleep can impact its quality. Simply flopping into bed, exhausted at the end of the day is not great for sleep hygiene. While a poor bedtime routine can be actively instrumental in causing or worsening sleep deprivation. This means that you need to design a wind-down procedure that puts you in the right frame of mind for quality rest.
Your first step is setting yourself a good sleep schedule. This doesn’t mean that you decide to stay up doing activities until 11 p.m. because that gives you eight hours of sleep. Rather, take that “bedtime” and work backward, giving yourself space to get into a pre-sleep routine. Prepare to slow down an hour or two before you intend to sleep, and adopt activities that you can repeat daily in a way that starts to inform your body that you’re ready to go to sleep. This could include removing makeup, getting changed into sleepwear, and settling the dog into their bed.
It’s also important that this routine includes maintaining an environment that is supportive of getting yourself gently into that sleep state. You don’t want your bedroom to have a similar atmosphere of activity as the rest of your home. Install some low-level, soft-colored light bulbs. Some people find it helpful to play background white noise or to have a fan gently running. Avoid having a television on or a device on hand to stare at — the light quality from screens has been shown to keep you awake longer. Instead, settle down with a book, and allow yourself to ease toward the 8 hours of quality rest.
Good quality and quantity of sleep each night are essential to maintain your health and well-being. However, the lives a lot of people live aren’t conducive to this. Keeping active and having a balanced diet can keep you physically prepared for undisturbed sleep. Address elements of stress in your life, and set boundaries that allow you time and space to rest. Just as important is to regularly prepare yourself for your slumber, so that you can build the tools for good sleep hygiene into your holistic wellness practices.
You need optimal rest to perform your best and feel your best.
However, there are sleep problems that cannot be solved without proper diagnosis and treatment by a sleep specialist. Alaska Sleep Clinic is here to help you improve your sleep, thus improving your entire life. Call us today for a free phone consultation.