Getting a good night sleep might seem like an impossible feat nowadays. From stress, to anxiety, to even just the big urge to go and check social media, there are many factors that can hinder us from sleeping all night without trouble.
Sleeping well affects our mental and physical health, while lack of sleep can disturb our waking life greatly, by reducing our productivity, energy, emotional health, and even cause weight gain!
If you, like many of us, have trouble sleeping, here are some tips on how to get better sleep.
Exercise During The Day
Exercising not only speeds up our metabolisms, but also improves the symptoms of insomnia. Physical activity increases the amount of time we spend in the restorative stages of sleep. Even light exercising, like 10 minutes a day of yoga or mild stretching, or walking can improve our sleep cycle.
Respect Your Sleep Wake-Cycle
Start by trying to go to sleep at the same time every day. We know it’s difficult, but this will help set your “internal clock”, and at the same time, it regulates the quality and time of sleep you get. Likewise, limit napping to 15 to 20 minutes in the afternoon. If you nap longer than that, you will inevitably have trouble sleeping at night. To avoid jet-lag like symptoms, avoid sleeping too much on weekends.
Take Care Of Your Diet
Limiting caffeine is a no brainer. Even little kids know that! Did you know caffeine can cause sleep problems even if you drink it 12 hours prior bed time? The same can be said about nicotine, alcohol, and sugar consumption. Smoking and eating sugary treats are big stimulants that can disrupt your sleep cycle pretty easily. Drinking, as well, can be a problem. It can make waking up quite a chore the morning after.
Also, avoid big meals at night (especially spicy or acidic foods that can cause stomach issues), at least two hours before sleeping, and cut your liquid intake if you don’t want to visit the bathroom frequently at night.
Your Sleep Environment Is Vital
Here’s the gold standard when it comes to sleep environments: make sure your room is quiet, dark and cool. Most people sleep the best in a somewhat cool room (around 65°F or 18C°, might vary depending on your preferences). If our room is too hot or cold, it can affect the quality of our sleep significantly. Similarly, if you wake up every day with a sore back or a stiff neck, then it might time to change your pillows or mattress.
On another note, if you can't avoid or eliminate exterior noise like outside traffic or your neighbors’ partying, try masking it with earplugs. A fan or sound machine might help too.
Exposure To Light Is Extremely Important
Melatonin is a hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. When it’s dark, more melatonin is secreted, making us sleepy. Many aspects of modern lifestyle can shift our circadian rhythm (or “internal clock”), and make our brains confused.
Try spending more hours outside in the daylight by going for a walk, especially in the morning; this will help you at waking up, and then staying awake.
Also, open your curtains and move your work desk to a natural light source. If you are going to bed, avoid bright screens within 1 or 2 hours of your sleep time. It is well documented that the blue light produced by phones, tablets, computers, and TV are disturbing to our sleep pattern, and can affect the melatonin production, thus making you less sleepy at night.
Do you still find yourself unable to sleep or waking up night after night? Try relaxation, breathing techniques, and for the love of God, quit brainstorming at night!