Even though good sleep is a major part of good health, there are still many who struggle to get the quality or quantity of sleep that they need. There can be many different reasons for a lack of proper sleep, from a poor diet to too much stress. Whatever the cause of poor sleep is for you, the good news is that there are natural things you can do to help improve your sleep. If you are looking for ways to improve your sleep hygiene and get the rest your body needs, then here are some things to try.
Eat a Healthy Diet
While some may not think that what they eat and how they sleep are connected, the reality is that your diet does impact your ability to sleep well. Foods that are high in sugars and fats don't just lead to weight gain, but they can also disrupt your sleep patterns as well. This is especially true if you tend to eat these foods later in the evening. Foods high in sugar and carbs can be detrimental because they cause your blood sugar to spike and crash. When this happens, your energy levels spike and crash as well. This can lead to you feeling exhausted during times when you should have energy, and wired when you should be winding down.
To avoid having to deal with exhaustion due to diet, it can be beneficial to cut back on foods high in sugar and refined carbs, like candy, cookies, cakes and pasta. While trimming these foods out of your diet, it can also be helpful to increase more healthy foods that can support good sleep. These foods include fresh produce, leafy greens, and lean meats. Beyond that, making sure that you avoid eating for a couple of hours before bed can be helpful as well.
Cut Down on Alcohol
It isn't just the foods that you eat that can have an impact on your sleep, but the beverages that you drink as well. When trying to get better rest, it is important to consider the relationship between alcohol and sleep and how even a couple of drinks can impact your quality of rest. Even though alcohol can seem like a great way to unwind and relax in the evening, the reality is that alcohol disrupts sleep cycles.
So, while you may be able to fall asleep easily after drinking, you may struggle to stay asleep. Having these kinds of fragmented sleep cycles can be just as detrimental as not getting to sleep in the first place. While a drink or two before bed may not cause these issues, it can be a good idea to avoid drinking larger quantities if you want to be able to sleep well.
Cutting down of caffeine is something else that can make a big difference for your sleep quality. This is because beverages that contain caffeine can be big disruptors to your sleep. The primary reason for this is that caffeine is a nervous system stimulant. A nervous system stimulant can be great for getting you up and going in the morning. However, this kind of stimulation can cause you to stay wide awake at night.
Additionally, what some don't realize is that caffeine can stay active within their system for up to several hours after they have consumed it. So, even though you may think that a drink containing caffeine is okay to drink in the late afternoon, the reality is that it could be making it difficult for you to drift off when you try to go to bed. To help ensure that caffeine is not preventing you from getting the rest that you need, it can be a good idea to limit your caffeine consumption to the morning and early afternoon.
Beyond what you consume, other areas of your lifestyle can have an impact on your sleep quality. One area that can make a big difference in how well you sleep is your activity levels throughout the day. If you tend to be less active, then it can cause you to have pent up energy that may prevent you from sleeping well. Not only that, but it can also lead to hormone imbalances that make it more difficult to sleep well.
When it comes to staying active, it doesn't matter whether you go on long walks or hit the gym. As long as you increase your heart rate and remain active for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, you can burn off energy and balance your hormones, which will in turn improve your sleep quality.
Create a Comfortable Bedroom
The environment that you sleep in can have a significant impact on how well you are able to sleep. If your bedroom is too bright, the light coming into your room can keep you up. If it is too noisy, then these sounds can distract and annoy you, and prevent you from getting rest. If your room is too hot, it can lead to tossing and turning rather that comfortable sleep. By taking some time to assess your bedroom and make adjustments to things that could be keeping you up in your environment, you can help improve your sleep quality and quantity.
Start Relaxing Night Time Routines
Something else that can have a significant impact on how well you sleep at night is what you do before you go to bed. Your nighttime routines can either cause you to feel more relaxed, or more alert. Depending on how your routines impact you, you can either spend hours trying to doze off or fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.
Some great things to do before bed can include reading a book, writing in a journal, taking a hot bath or doing some gentle stretches. While some may think that scrolling through social media feeds on their phone or watching TV can be nice, passive ways to relax the reality is that these activities can actually keep you wide awake. This is due to the fact that screens emit a light that signals to your brain that it needs to stay alert. By opting for an activity that doesn't involve a screen, you can help ensure that you fall asleep more easily.
Some Last Thoughts
Even though good sleep is a major part of maintaining good health, the reality is that many are not getting the sleep that they need to feel their best. While it may not always seem easy to get good sleep, the reality is that there are many simple and natural things you can do to start getting better rest tonight.