Despite the fact that sleep is one of the most important parts of maintaining good health, many struggle to get the deep sleep that their body needs on a nightly basis. Not only can a lack of sleep leave you feeling groggy and exhausted in the short term, but in the long term there can be many serious side effects, like an increased risk for heart disease and stroke as well. The good news is, though, that there are many simple things you can begin doing today to help improve your sleep quantity and quality.
Eat a Better Diet
Even though many may not connect their diet and their sleep quality, the reality is that what you eat can have a significant impact on how well you are able to sleep at night. Foods that are greasy or high in sugars or carbohydrates are more difficult for your body to process and break down, which can lead to issues sleeping at night, especially if these kinds of foods are eaten close to bedtime.
Beyond that, foods high in sugar and refined carbs can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash, which in turn causes your energy levels to spike and crash. This can result in you feeling tired when you shouldn't, and wide awake when you need to rest. By cutting down these foods in your diet, particularly towards the evening you can increase your ability to sleep deeply. Also, you can potentially improve your ability to sleep well even further by including healthy foods and supplements like nucific bio x4 in your diet as well.
Get Plenty of Exercise
While some may not realize it, what you do during the day can have a big impact on how you feel and how well you're able to sleep at night. Getting plenty of physical activity into your day is not only a great way to wear yourself out and burn off any excess energy that might be keeping you up, but it can also help balance hormones that regulate your sleep and wake cycles.
When it comes to the best workouts for getting good sleep, the kind of exercise you get isn't as important as making sure that you exercise on a regular basis. So, whether you prefer nature walks or weight lifting, making sure that you get at least 15 to 20 minutes of activity in a day is a great way to make sure you fall asleep more quickly and deeply when you go to bed.
Avoid Sleep Sabotaging Beverages
When it comes to what you consume, it isn't just food that can disrupt your sleep, there are many beverages that can have a significant negative impact on your sleep as well. The worst of all being beverages that contain caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant, which is why it is so great for waking up in the morning, or giving you a burst of energy when there is a task that you need to get through. However, because it is a stimulant it can also keep you wide awake at night when you are trying to rest as well.
Even though a cup of joe in the morning may not be a big deal, what some may not realize is that caffeine can stay active in your system for several hours after it is ingested. To avoid having sleep issues due to caffeine, it can be a good idea to limit the amount of caffeinated beverages you consume, and to drink them earlier in the day, as well.
Another beverage that can cause issues when it comes to sleep is alcohol. Even though it is a depressant, and it can actually seem like it helps you sleep, the truth is that it can be highly disruptive to sleep cycles, and can end up ruining your sleep quality. So, while you may be able to fall asleep initially, you will then often wake up during the night, and have trouble falling back asleep. A drink or two occasionally may not do major damage to your sleep. However, if you want to sleep well, avoiding alcohol before bed in particular can be a good idea.
Try a Mindfulness Practice
Besides certain foods and beverages, stress is another major thing that sabotages sleep. This is because when you are stressed, your body goes into fight or flight mode and begins pumping out stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which can keep you wide awake. To help cut back on these stress hormones, it can be beneficial to start practicing things that can help you relax and cut stress naturally, like deep breathing exercises, gentle yoga, or a mindfulness practice, also known as meditation.
Not only does meditation help lower your blood pressure and heart rate, but it can also help clear your mind and relax your nervous system as well. Also, practicing mindfulness can be helpful whether you do it right before bed, or earlier in the day. The ideal amount of time to practice is 20 minutes. However, some may struggle to do it for that long at first, so starting in intervals of 5 to 10 minutes and building up to 20 can be a good way to begin.
Improve Your Sleeping Environment
What some may not realize is that the environment they sleep in can have a big impact on how well they are able to sleep. If your bedroom is bright or noisy, or uncomfortable in any way, it can make it not only difficult to fall asleep, but to stay asleep as well. If you think that your bedroom could be to blame, it could be a good idea to take some time to assess what about it could be keeping you up.
If it is too bright, room darkening curtains or blinds can be beneficial. If it is too loud, ear plugs or noise canceling panels could be a good idea. Also, making sure the air quality is good can also be helpful, especially for those that have allergies or other health conditions that may impact their breathing. In this case, either a humidifier or dehumidifier could be helpful. Along with that, it is often easier to fall asleep at cooler temperatures, so turning down your thermostat before bedtime can be another way to help improve your sleep quality.
Some Last Thoughts
Good sleep is important to good health. However, many struggle with poor sleep quality on a consistent basis. The good news is, though, that improving sleep doesn't have to be difficult, and by doing things like eating a better diet and improving your sleeping environment you can start getting better rest tonight.
Sleep is important for your health, and while many may be aware of this, they may still struggle to get good sleep at night. The good news is, though, that with a few tips like tweaking your diet and improving your sleeping environment, you can start improving your sleep quality today.
In order to feel most rested, you need to ensure that you’re completing at least 4-5 sleep cycles a night. Here are some simple tips to ensure that your sleep is as productive as possible.
- Avoid caffeine before bedtime. Stimulating the brain before sleep can cause insomnia.
- Avoid antidepressants. Some antidepressants can block Rem sleep.
- Avoid smoking. Smokers have a lower rate of REM sleep and often wake up after 3 to 4 hours of sleep due to nicotine withdrawal.
- Avoid alcohol. Consuming an alcoholic beverage before bed keeps sleepers in the lighter stages of sleep.
- Use your sleep cycle as an alarm clock. Since sleep cycles last for 90 minutes, set your morning alarm to wake you up after the last completed cycle. For example, if you’re going to bed at 10:30 p.m., and need to wake up at 6:30 a.m., set your alarm clock to 6 a.m. instead to account for 90-minute sleep cycle intervals. Even though you lose 30 minutes of sleep, your body will feel more rested having wakened after completing REM sleep.
- Follow a set bedtime and wake up time. If you must wake up at 6:30 a.m., either start going to bed at 11 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Follow this schedule and see if your sleep improves.
There are also a number of free and paid apps available for your iOS and Android phones that use your body’s sleep cycle to set your morning alarm, such as Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. Simply search for “sleep clock” and you will find whatever you’re looking for.
If you’re struggling with getting enough sleep, or you’re feeling groggy and disorientated in the morning, you may have bigger issues than just understanding your sleep cycles. The best thing you can do is visit your local sleep specialist. If you live in Alaska, click on the link below to find a sleep specialist closest to you.