Several important habits can increase lifespan and contribute to the quality of life, including exercise and diet. However, many times sleep is overlooked as a significant factor in the quality of life. Sleep matters in quality of life and are affected by life events, habits, and the mental and physical reactions to these events and habits. There can be physical or mental roadblocks to getting the sleep you need. The following are several sleep tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Stick with a Sleep Schedule
You have an internal clock, known as circadian rhythm, which allows your body to maintain your sleep/wake schedule. Going to bed and waking daily at approximately the same time helps keep your internal clock on a schedule. As your body adjusts to this schedule, it becomes easier to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Once your body becomes used to the schedule, the sleep period will become a habit and you may no longer need an external alarm clock. Your body will be your alarm clock, prompting you to sleep when necessary.
Choose the Right Mattress
You can increase the quality of your sleep with the proper mattress and bedding. The choice of mattress is subjective – what promotes the best sleep for one person may not promote good sleep for another.
Sleeping on a mattress that does not “fit” your sleep style can cause lower back pain along with tossing and turning. According to this mattress buying guide, you should consider replacing your mattress every 7 – 8 years.
While some people believe that a nightcap helps them fall asleep faster, the alcohol disturbs your sleep cycle. Drinking alcohol before bedtime promotes deeper sleep for a while but reduces REM sleep. REM sleep is the stage of sleep when people dream, and many think it has restorative benefits. Any disruptions in this stage of sleep can cause drowsiness and poor concentration. Alcohol suppresses breathing and can foster sleep apnea, which is pauses in breathing occurring throughout the night.
Exercise During the Day
Science has proven exercise is effective at improving your sleep and overall health. Sometimes, exercise offers more benefits than drugs for promoting sleep. One study showed exercise reduced the time needed to fall asleep at night and provided longer sleep. Daily exercise can promote sleep, but performing this exercise late in “your day” can cause sleep problems. Once again, this has to do with your circadian rhythm. Exercise increases hormones such as epinephrine and adrenaline. Getting exercise during daylight hours is a good way to promote good sleep at night.
Say No To Caffeine
Alcohol is not the only drink that can affect your sleep pattern. Caffeine can disturb sleep for up to 12 hours after consumption. Caffeine can be found in soft drinks, tea, and coffee, but are not exclusive to these drinks. To promote better sleep, one should avoid these drinks especially just before bedtime. However, slowly reduce your caffeine intake instead of quitting cold-turkey, as addiction to caffeine can have side effects. These side effects can include restlessness, which does not promote good sleep.
Avoid Day Naps
Sleeping during the day time confuses your internal clock (circadian rhythm) and may cause difficulty sleeping at night. However, one study showed taking a short nap (less than 30 minutes) during the daytime can assist with brain function. Naps longer than 30 minutes can affect your nighttime sleep quality and your overall health. These findings should not cause you to stop taking daytime naps, because the findings depend on the individual. If you can take naps during the day time but also sleep well at night, you should not worry. Working nights might mean you should nap late in the day before work to help make up sleep.
Studies show an insufficient amount of sleep (less than 7-8 hours per night) contributes to obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Most everyone experiences a sleepless night now and then, but if it becomes a habit, you need to see your doctor. He/she will pinpoint and treat the underlying causes of your insomnia and provide sleep tips to help you get the sleep you need.
About The Author:
Chris Nguyen is the Founder & Chief Editor at Sleep Standards – A health blog that provides research-based sleep health advice, actionable sleep tips, and unbiased sleep product reviews. He aims to inspire better sleep and make the world of sleep easy to understand for everyday people. Check out SleepStandards.com to find out more about Chris and his work. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.