We all understand what it feels like when you’ve had a poor night’s sleep–you’re spending the day feeling cranky, foggy and searching… well, let’s just not tell your best.
However, if sleep deprivation or irregular sleeping becomes a recurring event, it could impact more than just your day or daily productivity–it could have severe health impacts, including brain health, hormones, and even your metabolism, which in turn could lead to weight gain. Besides having a decent quality of sleep, getting the right quantity of sleep every night is also essential because too much sleep is just as bad as too little.
So, if you are someone who spends most nights tossing and turning in your bed, getting your sleep frequently interrupted, or suffer from any other unhealthy nighttime (or daytime) habits which leave you with negative outcomes during the day, and if you’re wondering how to sleep better, then scroll down to see some of the changes you should be making.
Get as much sunlight as you can during the day
We understand it’s time to sleep when it’s dark and be awake when it’s light because of the circadian rhythm of our body–aka inner clock. Several studies have discovered that receiving as much natural light exposure during the day will result in better night sleep and a healthier circadian rhythm.
In one study, adults with insomnia exposed to bright light during the day experienced significant changes in sleep duration and quality, with sleep efficacy ranging from 77.5% to 90%.
Be consistent with your sleeping pattern
Our circadian rhythm predisposes us to feel tired towards the end of the day while the sun is out. So, if we listen to it and maintain a periodic and coherent cycle of sleep-wake, we’ll end up sleeping better at night.
That means going to bed every night at the same time, avoiding long naps during the day, and not even sleeping at the weekends. You’ll eventually get used to this pattern and you won’t even need an alarm clock in the near future.
Ditch your electronics
It’s really no surprise we’re having trouble sleeping with how glued we’ve all become to our electronic devices. Because our brain fits into a pattern of sleeping when it’s dark and being awake when it’s light, being subjected to light, and particularly blue light from our phones or laptops, as we try to sleep will make it harder to do that.
So try not to use electronics or watch TV 1-2 hours before you sleep, but if you need to, you can install a blue light filter on your phone (some new models are already mounted) or invest in blue-light blocking glasses.
Reduce caffeine intake
Coffee appears to have become the modern worker’s holy grail, with tired workers chugging it down in an effort to remain awake and focused. But while caffeine is useful in boosting your alertness (and boosting your metabolism), it can also contribute to your sleeplessness.
That’s because we may drink it too late in the day, only to interrupt our cycle of sleep.
It was concluded in one study from 2013 that consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime had a significant negative impact on the quality of sleep that the subjects had. So, if you’ve got trouble sleeping, you might skip coffee after 3-4 pm completely.
Exercise – but not right before bedtime
Regular exercise can assist us to keep our health, make us happier and more vigorous in particular, and can lead to better quality of sleep.
Several studies have shown that exercise has a number of positive effects on people with chronic insomnia. One research found that aerobic exercise enhanced sleep quality, mood, and quality of life for elderly individuals with insomnia, while another showed that pre-sleep anxiety could be reduced and patients with middle-aged sleep quality enhanced.
Working too close to your bedtime, however, can result the opposite from what you want. That’s because it can offer an energy boost, depending on the person.
Take a melatonin supplement
If everything else fails, you might switch to supplements as well.
Melatonin is the hormone that informs our brain that it’s time to sleep, so it has proven to be particularly useful to treat insomnia and sleep irregularities by taking a supplement. It is one of the most common sleeping aids available, but whether you need a prescription from a doctor to buy it depends on the nation.
One study showed that 2 mg of melatonin supplement taken in front of bed over a three-week period improved both the quality of sleep and the alertness of the next morning. Another study showed similar results, and if the subjects stop taking the supplement, none of the studies found any withdrawal symptoms.