We all know a good night’s sleep is crucial for our health. Getting enough sleep is just as important for your body as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Lack of adequate sleep – anything less than 6 hours – won’t just cause a groggy morning the next day. Chronically missing out on sleep is linked to a host of health issues. Lack of sleep can impact your brain function, your hormones, your exercise performance, and much more.
Despite the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, many people still find themselves sleep deprived and struggling to fall asleep at night. A recent National Sleep Foundation poll found that 84% of Americans feel tired during the week.
If you’re also someone who struggles with getting enough sleep, try these 5 tips to improve your sleep quality and get a good night’s sleep.
Avoid looking at bright screens before bed
Exposure to light before bed may make it more difficult to fall asleep. Blue light-emitting screens, like your phone and computer, can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime.
Blue wavelengths are good during the day because they can boost your attention span and mood, but for these exact reasons they can be disruptive at night. Exposure to blue light before bed can reduce melatonin, which is a key hormone that regulates your circadian clock and tells you when it’s time to power down and wake up. If you’re someone who looks at your phone or computer right before bed, the light exposure can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime.
There are a few ways you can reduce nighttime blue-light exposure. Try lowering your screen brightness if you’re going to spend some time on your phone before bed. You can also wear glasses that block blue light, or download an app that filters out the blue light. Otherwise, try putting your phone down at least 1 hour before bedtime.
Getting an adequate amount of daily daytime exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health. The changes that daily exercise initiates in energy use and body temperature can promote a solid sleep.
Though exercising daily is good for you, remember not to exercise too close to bedtime. Exercising close to bedtime may negatively affect your body’s ability to settle down as your adrenaline may still be flowing through your body.
Craft a pre-bedtime routine
Crafting a pre-bedtime routine may be helpful if you’re someone who struggles with shutting your mind off before bedtime.
Creating and following a consistent routine each night can help reinforce healthy habits and signal to your mind that bedtime is approaching. Start preparing yourself for sleep 1 hour prior to bedtime. Try calming activities that signal to your brain it’s time for sleep, like meditation and breathing exercises. You can also lower your lights to contribute to your body’s production of melatonin.
Create a restful environment
Create a restful and relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom so your mind subconsciously knows this is your place to sleep. Calming lights, a cool temperature, and keeping your bedroom quiet can create a peaceful environment that helps your mind wind down.
Though having a TV in your room may be convenient, it isn’t the best for your sleep hygiene. Only keep things in your room that will emphasize relaxation.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine can stay in your blood system for up to 8 hours, so try limiting your caffeine intake to the morning so it doesn’t disrupt your sleep quality. When caffeine is consumed too late in the day it can stimulate your nervous system and stop your body from relaxing naturally at night.
Another liquid to avoid before bedtime is alcohol. If you think alcohol is helpful for sleeping, think again. Alcohol can actually cause fragmented sleep because of the way it affects the brain. Yes, you may fall asleep quicker, but your quality of sleep will be much lower. Substitute your nightcap for a herbal tea or a warm glass of water.
The Bottom Line
Sleep plays an important role in your overall health and it’s important to get enough sleep each night. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, try using these 5 tips so you can rest well. Nearly everyone has the occasional sleepless night, but speak to your doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping.