Sleep Solutions to Start Getting Better Sleep Now
Why is sleep so important? Maintaining the proper amount and quality of sleep can make a world of difference in energy, weight management, and productivity. Poor sleep habits are linked to increased weight gain, diminished effort and energy for exercise, and increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Inadequate sleep and poor sleep quality affect hormonal balance, immune system function, and decreases one’s ability to empathize and socially connect with others.
A good night of sleep can improve function at work, at the gym and in communication with others. In an age where production is the key to success, it is critical to examine your sleep cycles and adjust your routine to improve your chances of getting the best sleep possible.
10 Ways to Sleep Easier and Sounder Starting Tonight
Whether you want to improve your performance at work, get more out of your workouts or just feel more energized, it will help greatly to get the best sleep possible. Use the tips below to take inventory of your bedtime habits and make improvements where necessary.
- Increase your daytime exposure to bright light or ideally, sunlight. Wake up and open your blinds to let in the natural light, get outside and soak up 10 minutes of sun, or invest in sun-mimicking lights for your home or office space. Daytime bright light exposure will improve sleep quality and duration while helping you fall asleep faster at bedtime.
- Reduce or eliminate screen time 2-3 hours before bed. Use blue light blocking glasses or install blue light blocking apps on your computer or smartphone to help minimize the effects of looking at screens before bed.
- Be consistent with your bed-times and wake-times. If you can minimize the fluctuations, even on the weekends, it will improve your body’s response to triggers of going to sleep and waking up while maintaining a predictable circadian rhythm. If you spend a night out and get to bed late, consider a nap mid-day rather than sleeping in the next morning.
- Create a bedroom environment that is favorable for sleep. Many believe the bedroom is not a place for watching television or working, so consider moving tv and office equipment to another room. There are three components that affect sleep: temperature, light, and sound. The body reacts best to a cooler temperature when sleeping, 60-70 degrees is ideal, and a cool breeze or fan can also help keep the body from overheating. A dark room is crucial to melatonin and HGH production, so eliminate outside light and incidental light exposure by covering up tights on electronics with a piece of tape or paper and use blackout curtains if needed. Lastly, in creating the perfect environment for sleep, you will want to check on how many sounds you are hearing from outside. If you live in a noisy area, try using a fan or white noise generator with a sleep timer.
- Stop eating 3 hours prior to bedtime to allow your body time to digest and to reduce the digestion process’s effect on sleep. Eating before bed can disrupt melatonin and HGH production.
- Create a bedtime routine. Dim the lights, put on comfortable clothing and do something that will help clear your mind such as journaling, doing gentle yoga, meditating or taking a bath.
- Make your bed inviting and comfortable by choosing breathable and soft bedding, replacing your pillows as often as they need to maintain support and shape. If your mattress is over 10 years old, consider replacing it with a new one that will better support your back and body. For those who experience restlessness or anxiety, consider using a weighted blanket, as they are useful in diminishing anxiety, restlessness, back pain and helping people to sleep without as many waking hours each night.
- Exercise during the day to sleep better through the night and to feel more energized during the day. Vigorous and muscle exhausting exercise (think breaking a sweat, pushing yourself or going the extra mile) will reap the most benefits, but if that is not possible, a 10-minute walk each day will still help you see a difference.
- Reduce or cut out alcohol consumption which disrupts the circadian rhythms in the body and interrupts melatonin and HGH production. Alcohol is known to increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns.
- Visit your physician to rule out sleep disorders or hormone imbalances that affect sleep.
Because we spend much of our lives sleeping, it is important to make that sleep as beneficial and efficient as possible. Better sleep will leave you feeling alive and well, rather than lethargic and lackluster. Give the changes and tips above a chance, and see how much better you can sleep.