8 Best Habits to Pick Up for Better Sleep
Are you struggling to get a good night's sleep?
Over 50 million people in the US suffer with various sleep problems. If you're one of them, it can be a frustrating, helpless time. You might not know what you can do to help yourself sleep.
Don't worry, we're here to help! Read on for these eight best habits to pick up for better sleep.
1. Lower Evening Exposure to Blue Light
During the day, exposure to light helps you go about your day. At night though it's the opposite. Too much exposure to light effects your circadian rhythm.
In turn, this makes your brain think it's daytime. It'll produce less hormones like melatonin which helps you fall into a deep sleep and relax.
Blue light is the light that electronic devices emit in large volumes. This includes devices like TVs and smartphones. It's the worst light for waking your brain up at night.
You should seek to reduce your exposure to blue light at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Popular methods of doing this include:
- wear a pair of glasses designed to block blue light
- download apps which block blue light from your mobile device after a set time
- Stop watching TV and turn any bright lights off at least one hour (two if you can) before bed.
Getting into a routine of avoiding too much light before bed will also help you relax. It'll help put your body in the mood for sleep.
2. Don’t Have Any Caffeine Too Late in the Day
Caffeine has several useful benefits to help us get through our days. It can help increase energy, sports performance and focus.
If you have it too late in the day though, it'll overstimulate your nervous system. This means it'll be harder for your body to relax and wind down at the end of the day.
Caffeine can linger in your system for around six to eight hours. You shouldn't drink large amounts of coffee or tea past early-mid afternoon.
Instead, try relaxing, non-caffeinated herbal teas designed to aid sleep. Or, if you crave that coffee fix, then stick with the non-caffeinated kind.
3. Use the One-House Wind Down Method
We take a while to wake up in the morning, right? Well, the one-hour wind down applies this logic to going to sleep. Take an hour to prepare yourself for sleep.
For the first twenty minutes, close your day with getting what you can ready for the next day. It will help you shut down and turn off from the day you had. Get your clothes for the morning laid out, and then write out your thoughts from the day.
You're not writing a novel, think of it like downloading the thoughts of the day from your brain. Let the emotions of the day flow out, it'll help calm your mind for a quiet night's sleep.
The next twenty minutes should be for hygiene. Taking a warm shower before bed relaxes and prepares your body for sleep. The last twenty minutes should be for relaxing. Read a book, listen to soothing music, meditate, do whatever you find relaxing. No blue light though!
4. Make Sure Your Bedroom Works
Having your sleeping environment set up right could help improve your sleep. You need to consider things like:
- external lights
- furniture arrangement
- noise levels
External noise from things like traffic can cause issues with sleeping. In the long-term, this can have a negative impact on your health.
You should seek to block out as much external noise and light as you can. Also consider your devices like alarm clocks, and choose ones that don't let off too much light either. Design your space to be a calm, quiet, clean, relaxing bedroom.
5. Keep a Strict Sleep Schedule
Plan in a solid eight hours of sleep each night. The recommended amount for healthy adults is at least seven to nine. Most people won't need more than eight, so this is a good middle ground.
Keep the same routine every day. Have your hour to prepare at the same time, go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time too. In the week, don't deviate for this at all.
For the weekend, try to only give yourself an extra hour before bed and getting up. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule trains and reinforces the natural sleep-wake cycle.
6. Have a Plan for if You Can't Sleep
Sleep isn't something you can force, you can either sleep or you can't. If you're not sleeping within 20-30 minutes of the time you went to bed, you should get back up.
Take yourself into another dark room and sit in the quiet. Don't use any devices, drink or eat. And don't use it as time to catch up on chores.
Sit, relax your mind and when you feel tired try to go back to bed. It'll train your mind to associate bed with sleep, instead of frustration at not sleeping.
Resting is important, and it's not only sleep that achieves this. If you're looking for answers on how to sleep through the night, then encourage rest. Don't give yourself the label of an insomniac as this will only encourage frustration.
7. Don't Exercise Right Before Bed
Doing any form of hard exercise right before bed can prevent you from getting to sleep. Hard exercise brings up your body temperature, and releases endorphins. It can also bring up the level of cortisol in the body.
At any other time of the day, this wouldn't be an issue. In fact, people who do regular hard exercise in the day do say they sleep better as a whole.
But, to sleep well, you need to bring your core temperature down. You don't want any endorphins buzzing around either, as it'll make it harder for your brain to relax. A busy brain can't unwind and it'll be harder to sleep.
8. Remove/Reduce Irregular Daytime Napping
Short power naps can be helpful, but you want to avoid long or irregular ones in the day. This can have a negative impact on your sleep.
Sleeping in the day can become confusing for your internal body clock. This means, when it comes to bedtime at night, your body might not know it and struggle to fall asleep.
In one study, it showed that napped for under 30 minutes could boost brain function during the day. But, napping for any longer could actually harm sleep quality, and general health.
If you're taking regular daytime naps and you're sleeping well, it shouldn't be a worry. Napping seems to depend on the individual. So, pay attention to what you're body is telling you.
Better Sleep Made Easy
So there you have it! If you pick up these eight best habits for better sleep, you'll sleep through the night in no time.
Set yourself up for success with the right sleeping environment. It should be calm, peaceful and relaxing. Encourage this mindset as well, but training your brain to be positive about going to bed.
You shouldn't focus on the negatives of not sleeping. Keep to a schedule, and make bedtime a time to wind down and process your day to get it off your mind. Don't take the emotional baggage of the day to bed with you.
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