6 Tips For A Better Sleep Schedule
Not getting enough sleep has some pretty serious implications for our health. Work performance, mood, relationships, and many other aspects of life are subject to profound change in regard to the amount of sleep we get.
On the other hand, getting optimal sleep every night does wonders for hormone balance, disease reduction, immune function, and much more. Below we will go over some ways to better your quality of sleep.
1. Stick To A Schedule
Our bodies are made to operate in conjunction with a circadian rhythm. Try your best to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.
This might mean putting off some work until the next day or getting out of bed even on the days that you don’t have to get up for work. If you are getting enough sleep, your body will tell you when to get up even without the use of an alarm.
Since people are diurnal creatures, we function better when we stick to sleeping at night and being active during the day.
In fact, sun exposure triggers the synthesis of Vitamin D, which then regulates serotonin levels. Serotonin is converted to melatonin and thus has strong ties with the sleep-wake cycle. In essence, being awake and exposed to sun helps us sleep better at night.
Working out helps use the energy your body wants to get rid of, and studies show exercise and sleep quality are indeed correlated. Make it easy for yourself to workout.
Invest in some weights that you can use, or find a gym that’s conveniently located. Always have a decent pair of running shoes close by so you are free to simply walk out your front door to get some quick and easy cardio.
3. Employ Pre-Sleep Rituals
Doing some things you find enjoyable as part of a pre-sleep routine can help you relax and wind down. Do some light stretching, yoga, meditation, or have some chamomile tea before bed. Another popular choice is to read a book while lying down in dim lighting.
Avoiding screens can be a tough habit to break, but it’s a worthwhile change. Screen use during the evening can negatively affect sleep.
This is because the brightness of the screens causes your body to slow down production of melatonin, a hormone that helps put you to sleep. The screen tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime, which can then lead to sleep deprivation and insomnia.
For best results, avoid tv, computer and phone screens for an hour or two before you go to bed. Instead, opt to listen to a podcast or some soothing music. Alternatively, there are certain apps that help eliminate blue light from the screen, which many believe is the chief culprit in the sleep-disrupting equation.
4. Avoid Unnecessarily Long Naps
Naps may seem tempting at times, but often it’s merely because you aren’t getting enough sleep at night. Indulging in a nap then further exacerbates the problem by putting your body in a habit of sleeping during the day.
Taking a nap isn’t the worst thing you can do of course, but try to stay away from any naps longer than 20 or 30 minutes.
5. Timing of Consumption
Things like nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals can negatively impact the brain’s readiness to fall asleep. Caffeine and nicotine can wake up the brain at a time when you want the exact opposite.
Alcohol may seem like a useful aid to help you drift off, but it prevents the brain from completing the cycles required for restorative sleep. Similarly, eating a heavy meal before sleeping makes your body devote more energy into digestion rather than restoration.
Try to veer away from a heavy dinner, and try to put more time between dinner and when you get to sleep. Instead, opt to have a heavier lunch if one of your meals must be bigger.
For dinner, you will also likely find benefit in abstaining from foods high in sugar or carbs. If you find yourself waking up at night to go to the bathroom, drink less liquids before you go to sleep.
Also, try switching to tea vs. coffee. Caffeine has a different impact on everyone, and if you are struggling with sleep, decreasing caffeine all together certainly cannot hurt.
As far as supplementation goes, there are numerous avenues you can explore if you are looking for a sleep aid. Many people find benefit in taking melatonin before bed, however you want to avoid using it over the long term, as a dependency may set in.
Certain herbs and teas have been used for thousands of years as sleep aids. This includes the likes of ginkgo biloba, chamomile, lavender, and Valerian root.
By the same token, never drink other teas before bed unless you know that they are caffeine free. Black or green tea will keep you awake due to their caffeine content, in much the same way a cup of coffee would.