Sleep is an essential component of our lives with the ability to impact our ability to function, affect our mental and physical health and transform our overall mood. To be our best selves and thrive, we need proper rest to be rejuvenated. It can feel difficult to get the appropriate amount of sleep to feel truly restored, but a good night’s sleep does not have to be an un-achievable goal.
These tips can go along way to improve our slumbers.
Routine and Sleep Hygiene
Adjusting our sleep hygiene, or the practices of care we institute as essentials for having a good night sleep, can better prepare us for rest can be a wonderful first step. The steps we take to get ready for bed exist well before we brush our teeth and crawl under our covers and the activities we partake in during the day prepare us or can detract from our ability to get a restful sleep.
One way to improve our sleep hygiene is to follow the same routine before bed each night, whether that be meditating or practicing mindfulness, having a relaxing shower or listening to calming music. By maintaining a consistent procedure before bed, this routine cues our body and indicates that it is time to slow down and relax to sleep.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Regular caffeine and alcohol use can be a significant detractor from our ability to get to sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can help us wake up, and similarly, can keep us awake when we are trying to fall asleep. Alcohol, while it can cause a drowsy feeling for some, it can interrupt our body’s natural ability to get a restful sleep. By breaking up our natural sleep cycles, we cannot achieve proper rest.
Eating and Snacking
Certain types of foods can impact your ability to sleep and gain a tranquil night’s sleep. A midnight snack or an indulgent dessert can sound appealing as you relax, but it is important to keep in mind that foods that are high in fats or high in sugar can be harmful to your ability to rest. Timing your food intake before bed can be a useful task to improve your sleep.
Avoid eating large meals before bedtime, especially for those who experience acid reflux or indigestion. Consider scheduling these larger portions at least 2 hours before you head to bed to avoid any negative effects. Even fluid intake can be adjusted to help you get more consistent sleep. If you are finding that you are getting up in the middle of the night to relieve yourself, trying avoiding drinking a full glass of water or a warm drink before bed and reschedule your beverages to earlier in the evening or in smaller quantities to avoid interrupting your slumbers.
Mattress and Bedding
Mattresses and bedding can be a significant influencer on our ability to gain a soothing night’s sleep. Whether it is the firmness of the bed, temperature or type of bedding, all of these factors can affect your sleep. Choosing the right material and type of mattress is important and a different choice for everyone. Consider a latex mattress that can provide a breathable, hypoallergenic and durable option. Today you can go try out mattresses in-store or have mattresses shipped to your door to try.
Temperature can be a significant factor in one’s ability to sleep. While this varies for many, temperatures between low-60s to mid-60s are suggested for many as the optimal temperature for good sleep. This cooler temperature can provide your bedroom with the prime conditions to allow you to remain asleep and comfortable as you slumber.
Avoid Long Naps
When we are tired, naps can feel like the perfect option to awaken and reinvigorate. However, it is important to be mindful of how much time you are spending napping, as a nap that lasts 30 minutes can be a great way to re-energize, but more than 30 minutes can result in an inability to fall asleep in the evening. It is useful to avoid letting the activities that provide you with improved daytime energy result in a difficult time falling asleep later on.
Electronics and Digital Engagement
Electronics are such a large part of our lives these days, however, it is important to evaluate how they impact our sleep. The lights behind our phones, tablets and other electronic devices can interrupt our ability to initiate asleep, so consider powering down an hour before bed. If you feel you are unable to do that, try turning on the setting that alters the light on your phone to less harsh lighting or night lighting.
For some avoiding looking at social media or other forms of media, like the news that can stimulate your brain can also improve rest. By avoiding digital engagement, we can start to power down our brains to cue that it is time to sleep.
While avoiding electronics can be a useful strategy to help improve our sleep habits, we can also use our phones to help our slumbers. Some apps exist that can aid our efforts to understand what is interrupting our sleep and create environments that promote restful sleep. By using an app that creates white noise or tracks our sleep, we can use our devices to help support our relaxation or provide an analysis of our rest periods.
Physical Activity and Exercise
Physical activity can be important for our health and well-being, by having 30 minutes of physical activity per day we can improve our physical health, but by having just 10 minutes of physical activity per day we can also improve our sleep health. It is useful to consider when you schedule your activity for though, as the intense exercise before bed can stimulate some and end up having the opposite effect.
Medication and Doctor Consultation
For those who truly struggle with sleep, consulting licensed medical professionals may be an important step. While improving sleep hygiene and adjusting our behaviors to promote healthy habits for our slumbers can positively impact our rest, for some it may be necessary to consult a medical professional to assist in addressing sleep-related medical issues.
For some, melatonin, an over-the-counter sleep aid supplement can be enough for a short time and for others additional measures may be necessary. Either way, it is important to discuss any medical and sleep-related issues with a healthcare provider to assess the situation.
Sleep is an essential component of our lives, but often can be difficult to achieve. Consider adjusting your behaviors, practices, and improving your sleep hygiene to help you gain a more restful night’s slumber to rejuvenate and re-energize you.
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