The quality of your sleep has an impact on your physical and mental health in your waking hours. If you’ve experienced not being able to sleep well, you may have noticed your crankiness and lack of focus in the morning. If you sleep badly, it can affect your productivity at work, energy levels and emotional balance. It can even make you gain unwanted weight.
Many people struggle to get enough quality sleep. Some things may keep you awake at night, such as worrying about what you need to do the next day, or a mattress that just won’t let you find a comfortable position to sleep in. While the first one is a mental challenge that requires relaxation techniques to control, the second one is a physical one that’s easy to remedy: consider getting a mattress topper or buying a new mattress. That may be all you need to sleep better!
If the mattress isn’t the problem, you may need to assess your lifestyle and change a few things. Here are the top three ways to sleep better at night.
Get in sync with your circadian rhythm.
Even creatures of the wild have a natural sleep-wake cycle. Keeping in sync with your natural sleeping and waking time will allow you to sleep better, so stick to the schedule! For instance, many people naturally wake up at 6 a.m. even if they sleep late. If you sleep at different times and wake up at odd hours, it’s time to change things up and set a schedule.
To train your body and set its internal clock, do your best to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Identify the time you usually feel tired and start getting sleepy. If the body is fully rested, you will wake up naturally at the same time.
If you need an alarm clock to wake you up, it’s a sign you’re not getting enough quality sleep and may need to set an earlier bedtime. Be consistent – keep to your sleep schedule even on weekends. If you slept late because of a Saturday night party, wake up as usual on Sunday and opt for a short 20-minute nap in the early afternoon instead.
Minimize exposure to light during bedtime.
The brain secretes a hormone called melatonin, which regulates the circadian rhythm, in different amounts during the day. When it’s bright, less melatonin is secreted to make you more alert. When it’s dark, more melatonin is secreted, making you sleepy.
It’s therefore important to make sure you avoid bright lights (and blue light from device screens) during the hours leading to bedtime to condition your brain to secrete more melatonin. If you must use your devices, turn the brightness down or activate the blue light filter if your device has it.
Avoid watching late-night TV or leaving it on while you sleep. Create a restful environment conducive to sleeping. Dim the lights a couple of hours before bedtime and turn them off before getting to bed. Make sure the room is dark by using room-darkening shades or curtains, or by using a sleeping mask. If you need to get up during the night, use a small flashlight or a dim nightlight.
Be conscious of what you eat and drink in the evening.
To really have a better night’s sleep, you should consider what you eat and drink at night. You should avoid the following: a heavy dinner, acidic or spicy food, alcohol, lots of fluids and sugary food. Avoid smoking and limit your caffeine intake.
If you’re the kind of person who needs to eat before bed to fall asleep, stick to light snacks such as a banana, yogurt, milk, a small bowl of (low-sugar, whole-grain) cereal or half a sandwich.
By following these lifestyle tips, you’ll have a higher chance of getting a better night’s sleep. Remember, consistency is key!