Sleeping is one of those things that can really affect our mental health. Not enough sleep can really have a toll on an individual: energy levels, mood, productivity, etc. In a time look this one, while most of us are in self-isolation, mental health can really be affected and sleep becomes one way to ensure you take care of ourselves. It is one thing we should pay attention to, especially as a lot of people have seen a change in their sleeping pattern since they went into social-distancing. That's why we hope our simple tips to improve your sleep will really help you.
Indeed, healthy sleeping habits go beyond helping mental health and setting us up for the next day. Sleep is when our body regenerates, assimilates what we've learnt during the day and of course, rests. Good sleeping habits will make a huge difference to one's quality of life. Sometimes, it is indeed to have control over our sleeping habits, or sleep hygiene. However, some other times, there are small steps one can take to improve sleep. Thus, here are eight simple tips to improve your sleep.
Eight simple tips to improve your sleep
1. Have a sleeping schedule
Human beings are creatures of habits. Once you start following a routine, have a pattern in your life, your body and brain get used to it. A simple way to improve your sleep is to stick to a sleeping schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night, set your alarm for the same time every morning. You may of course get to bed a few minutes earlier or later. As long as the changes are small, your body will still keep up. The most obvious of simple tips but it does work.
At the weekends, the temptation to sleep in is high, especially after a straining week. It is best to avoid sleeping in until late in the morning at the weekends. Then again, waking up at 9am instead of 8am will not disturb your sleeping pattern much. However, letting yourself sleep until 11am or 12am might interfere with your sleeping schedule a lot. Indeed, your body may think you went through some jet lag and try to adjust accordingly.
A consistent sleeping schedule will help regulate your body's clock. Furthermore, it will help you fall asleep around the same time every evening and stay asleep all night. When you settle in a new sleeping schedule, ensure that you go to bed at a time you feel tired so you don't toss and turn. After a time, your body will know how to naturally wake you up. You may not even need an alarm anymore as your body will know when you have enough sleep.
2. Limit day time naps
You may feel tired in the middle of the day, mostly after lunch. That is when you may feel like having a nap. While napping is a good way to make up for lost sleep, you need to be smart about it. If you already had trouble falling asleep at night and staying asleep all night, napping may make it worse. Indeed, napping in the day will fill up your sleep quota. Thus, your body will wake you up earlier during the night.
If you want to take a nap, make sure you do so early in the afternoon or not at all. Indeed, late-day naps decrease sleep drive. That's why it is better to keep napping short and always before 5pm. Power napping for 15 to 20 minutes may help you get through the day, but they should not be longer or your body will think it's actually time to sleep. Make sure you set up an alarm so that you wake up.
Napping can boost your mind, reduce stress and recharge your battery for the afternoon. However, if you really have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, better skip napping altogether. Doing so will set up your body for a new habits, which is staying awake all day and asleep all night. One of many simple tips to improve your sleep is to sleep when the clocks tells you to: at night.
3. Switch off electronic devices
Most electronic devices such as phones and tablets are really bright. The thing with light is that it tells your body it is time to wake up. It is a biological clock of sort. Since your sleeping pattern wants you to sleep when it's dark outside and to be awake when it is bright, you get it. Light will signal to your brain that it is not time to sleep. Thus it will keep you awake.
Furthermore, light emitted by phones, laptops and other devices is not any kind of light. It is blue light and it is especially disruptive. When it comes to watching TV, it suppresses melatonin. Plus, TV programs at night usually are not relaxing, they are stimulating. Superheroes, crimes and other series will send you rushes of adrenaline, which will keep you wide awake. Unfortunately, watching those series coincide with that time when your body should start to relax and set up on a good sleeping mood.
You can minimize that impact of blue light and TV light by turning all devices off one to two hours before bed. You may also use smaller screens and decrease the brightness of each. If you read on a tablet, know that they are backlit. Switch to an e-reader as they do not have their own source of light. Switching off electronic devices is a very simple tip to improve your sleep but it will make a huge difference.
4. Avoid chemicals interfering with sleep
It is no secret that caffein will keep you awake. Coffee just like tea are stimulants. Most people drink them to stay awake. So of course, it makes a lot of sense to stop drinking either when it is late. You may drink a relaxing tisane or decaffeinated tea in the evening before bed, but coffee of all sorts should be banned.
Too much coffee during the day will get you fidgety and excited. You will have a lot of energy to spend, which is not good when you are about to go to bed. Most likely, coffee will keep you awake. Refrain from drinking coffee after 3pm. Similarly, it is better to avoid smoking before bed. Nicotine might contributes to keeping you awake.
As for alcohol, it is also better to stop drinking a few hours before bed. A glass of red wine during dinner might make you sleepy and in good condition for bed. Some times, alcohol will bring sleep about. However, after a few hours and too much of it, alcohol will act as a stimulant. Indeed, alcohol will increase the number of awakenings and decrease the quality of sleep later in the night.
Have you ever noticed how alcohol prevents you from sleeping in? And also dehydrates you. Therefore, refrain from drinking alcohol too late in the evening and limit quantity to one or two drinks per day. Drinking too much will not only affect your sleep quality but a hangover will sure not make you productive the next day. Again, one of many simple tips to improve your sleep, but it does wonders!
5. Create a restful environment
Creating the best conditions that will signal your body sleep time is coming is the best way to fall asleep. A peaceful bedtime routine does indeed send a powerful signal to your brain: it is time to wind down and let go of the day's stress. Thus, you must avoid activities that are stress, anxiety or excitement inducing a few hours before bed.
Before you go to bed, make sure your environment is tidy and clean. Compete small chores and house tasks so that your mind is free to wander elsewhere. Ensure your bed is comfortable Relaxing activities such as reading will really facilitate you falling asleep and improve sleep quality.
Turn off all bright lights and ensure your bedside lamp is dimmed with a low intensity. Put down the blinds so that external sources of light do not get into your flat. You may open your window for a bit in the evening to let fresh air in but it is better to keep noises down as you fall asleep. Finally keep your bed for sleep and sex so that your brain associates your bed to just that and makes it easier to unwind at night.
6. Include physical activities in your routine
Exercising is a great way to use a lot of energy. In short, exercise tires you. Your body then needs to rest to recuperate. Indeed, it can really improve your sleep quality as well as make you fall asleep earlier. Exercise speeds up your metabolism, elevates body temperature, and stimulates hormones such as cortisol. Of course, the most vigorous the exercise the better, however even 10 minutes of walk will still help improve your sleep.
Like everything else, exercising will produce effect if consistently and continuously incorporated into your daily routine. The full sleep-promoting effects make take months to come by. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
However, to ensure exercise actually help, you should not get into it close to bed. You must leaver at least three hours between your workout session and your bedtime. Indeed, the cortisol produced by the effort may interfere with sleep. Relaxing, low-impact exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching in the evening can help promote sleep.
7. Go to bed when you are tired
Even though it is better to stick to a sleeping routine and a specific pattern, with set hours, there is no point in going to bed when you are not tired. If you go to bed wide awake, you will just toss and turn, which will wake you up even more. It is okay to not follow your sleep schedule once. Indeed, that won't disturb the whole process.
If it is time to go to bed but you do not feel tired at all, get into a relaxing activity. First, ensure that you have indeed created the right sleeping environment. Create all the conditions that will help you sleep. Then, pick up a book for example. If something stressful is on your mind, take a few minutes to think on it. Write it down. It may help take the stress out of your head.
If something is really bugging you, i.e. you did not finish something and you are absolutely not tired, maybe get up and finish that task. It may wake you up a bit, but at least you'll be relieved to have done it and will go to bed with better peace of mind. Essentially, if after being 20 minutes in bed, you are still not asleep, stop trying, get out of bed, go to another room, occupy yourself. One of many simple tips to improve your sleep that may not sound intuitive but that will really help.
8. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual
Last but not least of all our simple tips to improve your sleep is basically to combine them all together to create a relaxing bedtime ritual that you will repeat every evening. First, ensure that your immediate environment creates the perfect conditions for an easy sleep: reduce noises, dim bright lights, close the blinds, tidy around you, ensure your bed is comfortable.
Refrain from getting into anything stress and anxiety inducing before bed. Ban coffee and stop drinking alcohol at least two hours before bed. Switch off all devices or reduce the brightness of their screens. Make sure you do not eat a heavy dinner as it may weight on your stomach and keep you awake. Have a smooth transition between high energy activities to relaxing ones.
Get comfortable in bed, sitting against your pillow and pick up a book. If you insist on using a device, make sure the screen is not bright and the sound is off. Have a relaxing shower before bed maybe. In the end, creating a good bedtime ritual mostly relies on you since each person is different. Some people will fall asleep in front of Netflix while some others will dose off after reading a few pages. But all those simple tips will help you improve your sleep quality, fall asleep faster and get you ready for the next day. What about you? What are your best simple tips to improve your sleep?