When you are sitting up awake at three in the morning, getting more sleep may seem impossible and a far-off goal. However, you have more control over your sleep than you know. The key to great sleep is all in your daily routine.
Unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices that we select in the daytime can leave our sleep on the rocks. This, in turn, can negatively affect your mood, health, creativity, and weight. However, by finding the methods that work for you, you can get better sleep and drastically improve your overall health during the day.
Exercising at the Right Time
Regular exercise can help you keep your sleep patterns regular and also aid in feeling less drowsy during the daytime. It also increases the time you are in stages of deep, curative sleep. Vigorous exercise gives you more intense benefits. However, even moderate to light amounts of exercise can improve sleep quality.
However, do not exercise too close to bedtime. Since exercise can elevate your body temperature, raise your metabolism, and stimulate stress hormones, it is not recommended that you exercise before sleep, as it can inhibit your sleep patterns and quality.
Finishing rigorous workout three hours pre-sleep at least is essential. However, if you are still facing sleep problems, try moving your workouts to earlier in the day. Low-impact and relaxing exercise in the evening can encourage sleep, so try things like yoga or stretching.
Your normal sleep-wake cycle, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm, is a great place to start when trying to sleep better. If you do your best to get in sync with this rhythm and keep it regular, you can feel more rested and animated during the day.
Going to sleep and getting up at a similar time each day aids in setting your internal clock, which in turn optimizes your sleep quality. Listen to your body and choose a nightly bedtime when you naturally feel tired. This ensures that you will not be restless.
Resist the urge to sleep in. If you keep your weekend and weekday sleep plans in tandem, you will not experience those jetlag Mondays. When you need to regain traction after an all-nighter, try an afternoon nap instead of sleeping in the following morning. This keeps your natural rhythm in check.
Watch your napping. Naps are a great way to pay off a sleep debt, but if you have difficulty falling asleep in the evening, taking naps can exacerbate this issue. If you feel the need to nap, try to limit them to 15-20 minutes at a time in the late morning or early afternoon.
Control Light Exposure
Your contact with light during the day and night can radically affect your sleep quality. Generally speaking, the more light you get throughout the day and the less you get at night, the better off you will be. Here are some simple tips to follow:
Devote more time to being outside in the sunshine. Having your morning coffee outside, taking work breaks outside or by a sunny window, and taking the dog for a walk during the day are all great ways to get more sunlight in your life.
If you have trouble incorporating sunlight into your life, use a light treatment box. This can simulate natural sunlight and be particularly advantageous during winter when sunlight is scarcer.
When it is nighttime, dodge screen time an hour before bed. Blue light that comes from phone, computer, tablet, or TV screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm. This makes your mind feel like it is still daytime, making it harder to fall asleep.
Make sure your room is dim when you are sleeping. Heavy curtains that discourage light from windows as well as sleep makes can help make sure you are getting restful, uninterrupted sleep. Covering up any light-emitting electronics can also help.
If you get up in the middle of the night, keep the lights dim. If you need light to move around carefully, install a small nightlight or use a dim flashlight. This makes falling back asleep much easier.
Diet and Sleep
What you put in your mouth during the day can absolutely impact your nightly sleep quality, specifically in the time leading up to bedtime. There are certain things to avoid before bed in order to get a good night’s rest.
Nicotine and caffeine are both stimulants that can affect sleep. Caffeine can affect sleep up to ten hours after ingesting it, and smoking can affect you particularly if you smoke before going to sleep.
Having large meals in the evening can hinder your sleep as well. Attempt to make mealtime earlier in the day, while dodging substantial and rich foods from two hours before bed. Acidic and spicy foods can also negatively affect sleep, potentially giving you heartburn and keeping you awake. In a similar vein, drinking too much liquid before bed can cause regular bathroom excursions at night, disrupting sleep.
Cutting back on refined carbs and sugar can help sleep. Eating a large amount of these foods can cause you to be awake at night and keep you from entering curative stages of sleep.
Worry, stress, or other emotions from your daytime experience can make it hard to fall into a deep and restful sleep. There are some ways to help relieve this stress from the day and wind down before sleep, making it easier to rest.
Breathing deeply and slowly can help encourage sleep, as well as giving your mind something to focus on instead of the worry. Attempting to make each breath longer than the previous one can also help you fall asleep faster.
Muscle relaxation, similarly, focuses the brain’s attention on something other than stress. Starting at the toes, tense each muscle as firmly as you can before completely relaxing. By the time you get to your head, you will be completely relaxed.
Visualization can also aid sleep. Trying to imagine a “happy place,” one that is peaceful and tranquil, can help you to feel relaxed and ready for sleep. Close your eyes and envision this place and reflect on what the place means to you.