Getting adequate sleep is as essential as eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on brain function, hormones, and physical performance. It can also increase the risk of diseases, such as heart illness and diabetes.
That's why you should see to it that you get enough sleep to keep yourself healthy and for you to live a long, happy life.
However, sleeping is not that easy to come by nowadays, especially in a world where we are always busy, stressed, and distracted by modern technology. Experts estimate that about 20 percent of Americans don't get quality sleep.
If you consider yourself a sleep-deprived individual, perhaps a change of habits can help you get that quality Zzz's at night. In that case, you should try this list of science-backed habits for you to indulge yourself in a good night's sleep.
Develop a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Most of us follow a routine or ritual to do things better in life. Routines play a big part in different aspects of life that it's not so surprising it can also help us get quality nighttime slumber.
Sleep experts suggest that people who are having a hard time falling asleep at night should follow a consistent bedtime routine to have a healthy sleep. This conclusion has been proven in a study on children.
Do a Regular Physical Exercise
A survey by the National Sleep Foundation shows that people who do regular physical exercise sleep better at night than those who have no or little physical activities. Among the respondents, those who do vigorous exercise reported that they get the best sleep.
This survey result makes sense if you just think about it. After all, a regular physical workout gets you tired and sleepy. So you should see to it that you work that body out for a more relaxing sleep.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Foods contain minerals and vitamins that can either make or break your sleep. If you want to catch quality sleep at night, you should eat foods that are rich in vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and tryptophan.
These four vitamins and minerals help in converting serotonin into melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Here's a list of foods you should eat for that purpose.
- Nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, pecans, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts)
- Fish (tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, halibut)
- Meat (lean beef, lean pork, chicken)
- Leafy greens (kale, baby spinach, collard greens)
- Grains (corn, rice, oats, barley, wheat)
- Fruits (peaches, banana, avocado, apples)
- Vegetables (turnip greens, broccoli, onions, asparagus, seaweeds, onions)
- Legumes (black beans, lima beans, soybeans, chickpeas)
- Dairy products (cheese, milk, low-fat yogurt)
Say No to Heavy Meals in the Evening
Eating heavy meals in the evening is a bad idea if you want to fall asleep easily at night. Big meals are often loaded with protein, which is difficult to digest. Thus, you might do well if you eat a lighter dinner.
Also, eating late at night can negatively affect the quality of your sleep as it interferes with the production of melatonin.
Avoid Drinking Coffee Six Hours Before Sleep
It's undeniable that drinking coffee helps us get a surge of energy in the morning. However, consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime can make it difficult for you to sleep at night.
Caffeine messes up with normal melatonin levels in the brain, causing you to have a hard time catching sleep. It also cuts short your slumber and worsens the symptoms of sleep problems, such as insomnia.
Stay Away from Alcohol
Getting drunk surely gets you to sleep easily. The catch is that having a nightcap before sleep can cause problems in the long-term.
Alcohol can have a negative interaction with brain signals and hormones that promote sleep, and it causes tiredness right after waking up the next morning. Moreover, alcohol can worsen the symptoms of sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea.
If you want to get better sleep at night, it's advisable to kick off your alcohol habits. For a natural alternative, try cannabidiol (CBD). CBD can help ease anxiety and promote relaxation for a good night's sleep.
Don't Use Phones Before Sleep
Modern technology is a huge help in our daily lives. However, when it comes to getting quality sleep, it has some disadvantages. Exposure to the light from electronic gadgets like smartphones can mess up with the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in the brain.
So, for you to get that restful sleep at night, experts recommend that you keep off from using such gadgets an hour before bedtime. It will also be a helpful alternative to read a physical book before bed because it makes you feel more sleepy.
Expose Yourself to Sunlight
Research discovers that exposure to sunlight during the day helps in improving sleep at night. In the study, office workers who worked in office spaces with several windows slept better at night than those who spent their working hours in windowless office spaces.
The result of this study supports the notion that exposure to sunlight keeps one more alert during the day and, as a consequence, tend to fall asleep easily at night.
Choose Your Nap Wisely
Dozing off during the daytime can help boost alertness, improve memory, and enhance your daily physical performance. However, when not done right, daytime naps can break your capacity for a sound sleep at night.
So, if you want to have a daytime snooze, you should ensure that you limit it to 30 minutes. Also, you should see to it that you don't take naps a few hours before your nighttime sleep.
Listen to Relaxing Music
There's a study that shows the power of classical music in helping students to relax and sleep better at night. As we all know, classical music is calming to the mind, and this quality is perhaps the reason why the subjects in the study have shown improvement in their sleep. Thus, if you want to get better sleep, listening to relaxing music is worth a try!
Meditation is an excellent way to relax your hyperactive mind and reduce stress. This calming activity keeps your breathing and heartbeat at normal rates and helps you fall asleep at night more easily.
Cool the Room Down
A cool temperature in your sleeping environment helps you drift off to sleep with ease. Sleep experts recommend that you adjust the thermostat down at a temperature range between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius for a sound nighttime slumber.
Now you know the different habits proven by science that can help you get a good night's sleep. You only need to do them to realize them. Of course, most of the things on the list require discipline and consistency. Otherwise, you won't see any improvement in your sleep.
Alaska Sleep Clinic wants to help you diagnosis and properly treat your sleep issues; but we also want to educate everyone on ways to get better sleep, even if you don't have sleep apnea. Once a month, we do a segment on KTUU Channel's "Moms Everyday." Watch some of our sleep education videos below.