When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise. But despite its role as a contributing factor towards the normal healthy functioning of the human body, it is commonly neglected. There are, however, several steps you can take to improve your sleep routine and enhance your life. Continue reading to find out what they are and how to easily incorporate them into your daily routine.
- Reduce your caffeine intake later in the day
Caffeine is a stimulant found in a number of foods and beverages such as chocolate and coffee. When consumed, even in small doses, it can enhance focus and reduce fatigue for several hours. By consuming foods or drinks containing high levels of caffeine later in the day, however, you can reawaken your nervous system. This can prevent you from falling asleep naturally and even lead to disrupted sleep over time. According to a recent study into the effects of caffeine consumption on sleep, researchers found that 400 mg of caffeine consumed up to six hours before sleep is enough to disrupt and even reduce sleep. If this process is repeated over a prolonged period of time, it can have a detrimental impact on your ability to function on a daily basis.
- Refrain from taking naps
While naps may be a natural response to our body’s natural fatigue levels, they can also hinder our capacity for a solid night’s sleep. Short power naps shouldn’t have too much of an impact, but hour-long naps can confuse your body’s internal clock. As a result, you may struggle to fall asleep at an acceptable time or even fall asleep at all. Succumbing to daytime naps on a regular basis can actually increase fatigue levels and decrease productivity levels over time. The effect of napping on sleep schedule differs from person to person. If you are struggling to fall asleep at night, try refraining from taking naps as often or for as long. To learn more about sleep science and to find out how to improve your sleep schedule, check out the Rise Science app today.
- Establish a sleep routine
Most sleep problems arise as a result of a broken sleep schedule. Establishing a sleep routine can help your body get accustomed to falling asleep early and waking up at the crack of dawn. Your body’s circadian rhythm is naturally programmed to align itself with sunrise and sunset. If you disrupt this routine, it can be difficult to fix. By listening to your mind and body when it sends you sleep signals, you can aid long-term sleep quality and gradually improve your quality of life. If you struggle to maintain a regular sleep routine, try falling asleep and waking up at predetermined times each day. After several weeks, your body may adapt to these changes, and you may no longer require an alarm.
- Eat better
Just as a healthy diet can aid sleep, sleep can also aid weight loss. By maintaining a healthy diet and making better choices, you can enjoy a better night’s sleep. Adequate sleep has been proven to contribute towards healthy weight loss with dieters accumulating seven or more hours of shut-eye a night much more likely to lose weight and keep it off. On the other hand, too much unhealthy junk food can prevent you from falling asleep at a suitable time. A diet high in carbohydrates can also make you feel drowsy and have a direct impact on your sleep quality over time. It has also been shown to increase how often you wake up during the night and reduce the amount of deep sleep you acquire on a nightly basis. High levels of artificial sugars and sweeteners, such as those found in fizzy sodas or energy drinks, are also associated with poor sleep quality.
- Upgrade your mattress and pillow
Have you ever wondered why you sleep better in a hotel? The answer is almost always a comfortable mattress and pillow. You pay for quality bedding whilst on vacation so why not treat yourself to the same treatment at home? Bed quality can have a massive impact on sleep quality. A brand-new mattress may cost an arm and a leg but with a wide range of benefits for yourself as well as your sleep routine, you are almost always guaranteed to make a significant return on your investment. There is no universal rule, but most sleep experts recommend upgrading your mattress every 5-8 years. If you are experiencing poor sleep and have not replaced your bedding in a number of years, it may be time to invest in a brand-new mattress and pillow today.
- Exercise regularly
One of the best ways to expend energy is to exercise on a regular basis. Even light exercise, such as a walk or jog around the block, can help you to drift off quicker and sooner. It has been proven to reduce symptoms of a number of sleep conditions, such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome, when sustained over a prolonged period of time. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine, you can reduce fatigue and improve your sleep routine. It is worth noting, however, that exercising later in the day can prevent you from falling asleep at a suitable time. This is due to its tendency to trigger a stimulatory response as a result of increased levels of epinephrine and adrenaline.
- Optimize your sleep environment
Your surrounding environment plays a large role in your ability to fall asleep. By optimising your sleep environment, you can fall asleep both quicker and for longer. There are a number of steps you can take to achieve this. For example, you must ensure the room is set to the correct temperature, eliminate any external noise, dim any light sources, and rearrange furniture as necessary. This can provide you with the optimum conditions for a great night’s sleep and prevent you from waking up intermittently. Limiting your use of electronic devices before bed and ensuring they are switched off ahead of time can also allow your mind and body to switch off and succumb to sleep.
- Limit screen time
As well as limiting your screen time at night, reducing the amount of time you spend on your electronic devices throughout the day can also help you fall asleep at night. Staring at a screen for a prolonged period of time can cause eye strain and fatigue which can prevent you from falling into a restful state and disrupt your sleep pattern over time. Start by replacing screen time with more meaningful activities such as reading, exercising or taking a bath. Finally, the light emitted from screens can impact your brain’s production of melatonin. This chemical is key in regulating your sleep cycle.
Whether you find it difficult to switch off or lose track of time spent on your phone, there are a number of steps you can take to sleep better at night. They include reducing your caffeine intake later in the day, refraining from taking long naps, establishing a sleep routine, eating better, upgrading your mattress and pillow, exercising regularly, optimizing your sleep environment, and limiting screen time.