Sleep is an important recurring state of body and mind, characterized by reduced muscle activities, inhibition of sensory activity, limited interaction with surroundings, and altered consciousness. Getting enough sleep at night is essential for enhanced mental and physical activity, metabolism, developing immunity, and reducing the risks of chronic diseases. It also facilitates weight loss, reduced depression, less inflammation, and improved athletic performance.
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Lacking enough sleep is associated with various negative effects such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes, reduced immune system, and obesity which affect daily activities. Here are 18 evidenced-based tips to a better sleep at night.
1. Avoid consumption of caffeine late in the day
Caffeine is the most consumed beverage by about 30-40 % of the population in the world. A dose of caffeine enhances energy and focus. Caffeine intake may stay in the bloodstream for about 6-8 hours. It is not recommended to take large amounts of coffee after 3 P.M. or 4 P.M., especially when you have trouble sleeping or are sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine intake can significantly affect sleep quality and quantity when consumed up to 6 hours before bed. If you crave a cup of coffee in the late evening or afternoon, consider the intake of decaffeinated coffee.
2. Set a sleeping room temperature
Temperature is among the factors affecting sleep. Bedroom and body temperature affect sleep more than external noise. It is very hard to get enough sleep when it is too warm. The comfortable temperature for most people is about 20 degrees although it varies with your habits and preferences. Consider different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you.
3. Avoid the intake of alcohol before bedtime
Intake of alcohol can negatively affect hormones and sleep. Alcohol is associated with snoring, disruption of sleep patterns, and sleep apnea. It also alters melatonin production which is vital in the body’s circadian rhythm and decreases nighttime elevation in human growth hormone (HGH) which plays various key functions. Avoiding alcohol consumption will facilitate the production of nighttime melatonin which is essential for better sleep.
4. Take a soothing shower or bathtub
Bathing before sleep time improves overall sleep quality and may help you fall asleep faster. You can improve your night’s sleep quality by taking a hot bath about 90 minutes before bed. It may help improve your sleep by muscle relaxation, increasing body temperature, and lowering blood pressure and cardiovascular risks. Consider taking a warm bath before bedding for quality sleep at night.
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5. Rule out a sleep disorder
Sleep apnea is a common issue affecting sleep where breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If not treated, it can lead to serious health effects such as heart trouble and high blood pressure. About 24% of men and 9% of women have sleep apnea. Other common issues include circadian rhythm (sleep /wake disorders), and movement disorder. You should consult your healthcare provider if you always struggle with sleep. Many similar conditions may cause trouble sleeping at night and taking the right measures as directed by the healthcare provider will improve your sleep and better your night.
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6. Clear and relax your mind in the evening
The relaxation technique before sleeping is a great way to improve your sleep and can be used in treating insomnia. You can better relax before bed by in various activities such as reading a book, low tone music, hot bath, deep breathing, and visualization. The technique also helps to cope with stress preventing the chances of depression and heart problems. Try to relax some time out after a tiring and busy day to assist your body to unwind before bed.
7. Get a comfortable pillow and mattress
The uncomfortable mattress might be the source of a sleepless night. A good mattress reduces back pain by about 57%, back stiffness by 59%, and shoulder pain by 60%, and improves your sleep quality by about 60%. A poor bed may lead to an increased lower back pain. Upgrading your beddings can make you get enough sleep at night and reduce several negative impacts such as shoulder, neck, joint, and back pain.
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8. Exercise regularly
Workout is the best science-backed form to improve both your health and sleep. It facilitates all aspects of sleep and has been used to limit the symptoms of insomnia. Exercise is beneficial as it reduces anxiety by about 15%, time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30%, and increases your sleeping time by about 18%. Exercise during the daytime is the best way to ensure you have a good night’s sleep.
9. Avoid intake of any liquid drink before bed
Intake of liquids may cause Nocturia which may affect sleep quality, quantity, and daytime energy. Although hydration is good for your health, it is essential to avoid or reduce your consumption of fluid in the late hours of the day.
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10. Avoid eating late in the evening
Consumption of heavy food may negatively affect the natural release of melatonin, HGH, hormone disruption, and reduced sleep quality. The type of late nights snack may also have a significant role as well. High carb food four hours before bed may help to fasten sleep and avoiding heavy meals may facilitate a good and healthy sleep.
11. Consider using supplements
You can better your sleep by use of supplements that facilitates relaxation, including
Lavender: It is a powerful herb that induces a sedentary and calming effect which improves sleep. Take about 80 to 160 mg containing linalool of about 25-46%.
Valerian root: Valerian roots can help fall asleep and facilitate a good quality sleep. Consider taking 500 mg of valerian root before bed.
Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb that enhances relaxation, and stress reduction, and aid in better quality sleep. Consider taking 250 mg about an hour before bed. You should take these supplements one at a time and they can be of great help when used with other natural sleeping strategies for better nights.
12. Make it a habit to sleep and wake at a consistent time
Body circadian rhythm works on a set loop. Consistent sleep and wake time may facilitate long-term sleep at the night. Irregular sleep patterns may lead to poor sleep since it alters the level of melatonin and circadian rhythm which is essential in signaling the brain to sleep. If you struggle to get sleep, consider the habit of going to bed and waking up at a similar time naturally as it will prolong the night’s sleep.
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13. Consider taking deep breaths
Simple breathing exercises such as yoga may mimic how your body feels after being relaxed. Exhaling and inhaling for a few rounds make you feel calm because a deep breath enhances the body’s natural calming parasympathetic system.
14. Reduce long or irregular naps during daytime
Irregular naps during the day may hurt sleep quality. Sleeping in the daytime may facilitate poor sleeping at night. Naps might worsen problems related to insomnia and confuse the internal clock called the circadian rhythm. If you struggle with sleep quality, avoid napping or shorten your naps.
15. Avoid or reduce blue lights in the evening
Light exposure during daytime is essential but nighttime light harms sleep. Circadian rhythm may trick the mind to think it is still daytime reducing the production of melatonin hormones which have a significant role in relaxation and better sleep. You can limit the blue light during nighttime from electronic devices by:
Putting on glasses that block the blue light
Install application such as f.lux to block the blue light from your computer ·
Switch off any bright lights and stop watching television before heading to sleep
Install applications that will block the blue light from phones
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16. Increase bright light exposure during daytime
The natural time-keeping in the body affects hormones, the body, and the brain telling you when to sleep and helping you to stay awake. Sunlight or bright light during the day is essential in keeping your circadian rhythm healthy. This promotes nighttime sleep and enhances daytime energy. Daytime light reduces the time it takes to fall asleep by 83% improving sleep duration and quality. Consider getting enough light exposure from sunlight, devices, and bulb during the day to better the night’s sleep.
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17. Slip on pair of socks
Having warm feet and hands may determine how quickly you will fall asleep during the night. Warm feet open up blood vessels which facilitate the cool down effect to the rest of the body. Increased blood circulation in your feet leads to a lower core temperature which further results in relaxation enhancing better sleep. This happens as part of the circadian rhythm - a natural 24- hour clock in the body vital for managing the sleep-wake cycle.
18. Quit smoking
Nicotine is a stimulant that may consequently keep you awake during nighttime. It can also facilitate negative sleep conditions such as sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep fragmentation, and sleep disturbances. It is associated with sleep-related disorders which may worsen sleep quality. Individuals who take nicotine are four times more likely to feel tired when they wake up than non-smokers. Avoid smoking for better sleep quality.
Sleep is vital for overall body health such as the reduced risk of obesity, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Consider making sleep your priority end-of-day outcome by incorporating the aforementioned tips if you are interested in optimal well-being and health.