Do you spend long nights with eyes wide open? Or is it easy to get to fall asleep, but your quality of sleep is lacking? If you don’t feel rested in the morning, then you’re not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than a third of adults do not get enough sleep, where adults should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. A lack of sleep or poor sleep quality has been linked to a number of ailments, like cognitive impairment and depression. Other symptoms include a weakened immune system, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Use these following eight guidelines and strategies for improving your sleep life, and hence the quality of your day to day life.
1. Make A Bedtime
As elementary as it may sound, setting a bedtime for yourself and sticking with it yields significant results. Maintaining this schedule sets up your body clock to go to sleep and awaken at the same times. Being consistent with your bedtime and waking time both on weekdays and weekends has been demonstrated to aid long-term sleep quality. Irregular sleep patterns impact your circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, which tell your brain when it is time to sleep. So pick a time when you naturally start to feel tired and be consistent. If you are trying to change your sleep pattern for earlier or later, than make 15-minute adjustments at a time.
2. Unwind and Relax
Sometimes it can be harder than it may seem to simply forget about the day and empty your mind so you can relax. There are steps though to make this happen. Bathing before sleep is shown to enhance quality of sleep, and listening to music is shown to help relax muscles and promote overall physical health. Also, make it a rule that your bedroom is for sleeping only. Consider meditating before bed to reduce stress, where you write down your thoughts or write a to-do list for the next day so you don’t keep replaying these to-do items in your head when you are trying to sleep.
3. Create the Ideal Bedroom Environment
You want to set the tone and mood of your bedroom so it is conducive for stress free slumber. Simple changes, even with few resources, can make a difference, like shutting out as much light as possible and minimizing noise. Make your room dark, cool, and uncluttered. This means no clothes collecting on the floor, removing any work-related folders or papers, and reducing the amount of keepsakes on furniture that can collect dust and add to clutter. You want your bedroom to be simple and peaceful. Studies show that keeping the temperature down is effective with insomnia.
4. Optimize Your Sleep Structure
Research shows that new bedding improves quality sleep, and continuous sleep quality depends on timely replacement of bedding systems. You should replace your mattress every 7-10 years. It is important to do so because only a mattress in good condition can best support your spine and help alleviate back pain. Research indicates that you can pick out a mattress based on your sleep preferences that will improve sleep quality.
5. Improve your Mattress Hygiene
In addition to making sure your mattress is replaced every 7-10 years, it is important to perform regular maintenance to your mattress in order for it to last longer. Vacuuming your mattress regularly prevents the spread of dust mites and prevents you from having an allergic reaction or having an asthma attack. Cleaning your sheets regularly helps regulate your body temperature and just helps you feel better. Wash your sheets and pillows once a week.
6. Turn off Your Devices
As tempting as it can be to scroll on your mobile phone in bed right before you doze off, think twice. Cell phones, TVs, laptops, and even e-readers can emit blue light, which is shown during evening time usage to suppress melatonin, the chemical that helps regulate your natural sleep rhythm. These gadgets also can overstimulate your brain when you are trying to settle down for the night.
7. Nap Correctly
There is a right and a wrong way to nap. While naps that are 30 minutes or under that can produce more alertness and productivity during mid-afternoon are ideal, taking longer naps can throw off your sleep pattern. Research shows that daily napping can lead to daytime sleepiness as well. Don’t confuse your internal clock!
8. Watch Consumption
It is important to watch what you consume at nighttime, especially caffeine and alcohol, where alcohol is shown to increase snoring and sleep apnea. Don’t forget that caffeine is not just in coffee but also in hot and iced tea, hot chocolate, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate. Since caffeine stimulates your nervous system, consuming it after 4pm is not recommended.
Arm yourself with these strategies, and experience how your sleep quality will change for the better!