Importance of sleep
Sleep is often dismissed by people as a weakness. You often hear the old adage that "sleep is for the weak". However, we are beginning to understand the role of sleep in our overall health and well-being. According to research, we are seeing that the lack of sleep has been linked to higher blood pressure and cholesterol, which are leading indicators for heart disease and stroke. Harvard Medical School research found that sleep deprivation increases "the risk for a number of chronic health problems", like obesity, diabetes, and heart failure. There is also a direct correlation between sleep and aging. Studies have suggested that sleep deprivation leads to aging skin. In contrast, having good sleep habits can help you eat less, feel reduced stress, exercise better, and enjoy better health. Creating a healthy habit of sleeping well can lead to a significant positive impact on your quality of life. It's a key component of staying healthy.
19 sleep tips to help you live better
Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most important things you can do. Here is a list of 19 simple tips for better sleep and boosting sleep health:
19. Follow a consistent sleep schedule
According to National Sleep Foundation, you should maintain the same bedtime and waking time every day, even on the weekends. This will help regulate your body's internal clock. Consistency will create a habit of easing into sleep.
Studies have found that irregular sleep patterns can change your circadian rhythm. It may also change your level of melatonin, a hormone that helps you regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
18. Read a book
Reading a book is an easy way to clear your mind before you sleep. By making reading a part of your routine, it helps you relax. Choose a genre that is not stressful, and create a habit of reading before you go to bed for sleep.
17. Increase exposure to light during the daytime
Light exposure during the daytime helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This habit will help improve your energy during the day, as well as how well you sleep at night.
Research found that daytime light exposure improved sleep quality and the amount of sleep you get. It also cut down the time to sleep by 83%.
16. Reduce screen exposure in the evening
Screens create an artificial blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking that it's still daytime. It reduces the production of melatonin. Blue light exposure is a major detriment to our sleep time.
A couple of methods you can use to reduce blue light exposure are:
- Wearing glasses that block blue light.
- Installing mobile apps that block blue light on your smart devices.
Stop watching TV and turn off devices 2 hours before bed.
- Exercise daily
Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to improve your quality of sleep, boost weight loss, and improve overall mental health and wellness. It enhances all aspects of sleep and reduces insomnia.
One study in adults found that exercise reduced the time to fall asleep by half. It also added an additional 41 minutes of sleep at night.
Avoid exercising too late at night. It will increase your alertness through hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline.
- Create a bedtime ritual
People are creatures of habit. Having a pre-sleep routine really helps you relax. A routine activity right before bed away from blue light helps you settle into the mood for sleep. Choose activities that aren't exciting or stressful to help you get into the right state of mind for sleeping.
- Don't drink coffee at night
Caffeine enhances focus, energy, and physical performance. Since it's a stimulant, you do not want to consume it late in the day. It may stop your body from relaxing.
Research found that consuming coffee up to 6 hours before bedtime worsened sleep quality significantly. If you do want to drink coffee late at night, stick with decaffeinated coffee to help you sleep better.
- Don't take long daytime naps
Short naps are beneficial and can enhance brain function. Long napping outside of your regular sleep hours disrupts your circadian rhythm. It confuses your internal clock, making it harder to sleep at night.
Taking long naps during the day causes people to feel tired during the day. Disrupting your circadian rhythm creates a pattern where you feel sleepy during the day and awake at night.
If you already have a habit of sleeping well during the day, you can continue to do so as long as it doesn't disrupt your natural sleep at night.
- Try melatonin supplements
Melatonin is a sleep hormone that helps you regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It tells you when it's time to go to sleep. It's a popular sleep aid that can help you treat insomnia. Taking a 2 mg dose of melatonin before bed helps boost sleep quality and helps you fall asleep faster.
Melatonin is especially useful when traveling to a new time zone. It helps you adjust your circadian rhythm back to normal.
- Avoid alcohol in the evening
Drinking alcohol at night can increase your symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns. It decreases melatonin production. It also decreases the elevation of the human growth hormone (HGH) during the circadian rhythm.
- Use comfortable mattress and pillows
Bed quality can impact your sleep quality. A study that looked at the benefits of a new mattress. It reduced the back pain, shoulder pain, back stiffness by over 50%. It boosted sleep quality by 60%.
The recommendation is to upgrade your bedding once every 5-8 years.
- Optimize your bedroom
Factors that can help improve your sleep environment are: reducing noises, blocking out bright lights, and a comfortable sleeping temperature.
If you sleep nearby traffic, it can degrade your health over time if you don't block out these stimuli.
- Optimize the temperature
Bedroom temperature can profoundly affect your sleep quality. In the summertime, it becomes hard to sleep when it's too hot.
Research have shown that bedroom temperatures affect sleep quality more than noise.
The ideal temperature for most temperatures seems to be 70°F (20°C).
- Don't smoke
Nicotine is a potent stimulant. Cigarette smokers can develop insomnia if they smoke frequently close to bedtime. Once you start smoking, your sleep life will be forever impacted.
- Avoid heavy meals before bed
Eating a heavy meal late at night may negatively impact your sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin.
The type of meals may play a role in your sleep as well.
One study found that eating a high carb meal 4 hours before sleeping helped people sleep faster.
Spicy meals will cause discomfort from indigestion that may make it harder to fall asleep.
Building a habit of healthy eating and healthy sleep help lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Wind down during the last hour
Your body and mind need time to prepare for sleep. In addition to reading a nice book in the last hour of the day, avoid blue light exposure emanating from your devices before sleep. Avoid social media, as you may see the news that stresses you out. This is particularly important during the coronavirus outbreak, where you might already be in an elevated stress level. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed and keep them in a separate room.
- Take a warm bath
Taking a warm bath is a popular way to sleep better and improve your sleep hygiene. One study found that warm baths can improve the quality of sleep and help you fall asleep faster. Research also found that taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed helps people get more deep sleep.
- Talk to a doctor
If you think you might be struggling with a sleep disorder, talk to your physician. A common health condition is sleep apnea, which causes problem breathing while sleeping. It impacts both men's health and women's health. According to one study, sleep apnea affects 9% of women and 24% of men. If you struggle with getting a good night's rest, talk to your healthcare provider on how they can help.
- Meditate before sleep
Meditation holds many benefits. It decreases depression, regulates mood, reduces anxiety, and relieves stress. It's the perfect tool to relax before you go to sleep. Try using Testimonio to help you relax if you have trouble falling asleep. Meditation helps lower the heart rate by igniting the parasympathetic nervous system. The breathing exercises encourage slower breathing, which increases your level of quality sleep.