Restful sleep can have a great impact on your mental health, physical well-being, and overall mood. Studies have inferred that you should be getting between 6-8 hours of sleep per night. However, for some, sleep can be hard to come by and with poor sleeping habits comes risk to your brain function, exercise levels, and even your body’s hormones. In this article, we share our top 5 tips for a better nights’ sleep, so you can tackle the day as your healthiest self!
1. STICK TO A SLEEP SCHEDULE
Sometimes the issue with restless sleepers is that the time that they go to bed varies greatly throughout the week. Your body follows a 24-hour cycle of physical, behavioral, and mental activity called your circadian rhythm. So when you go to bed one night at 10pm and the next at 1am, your body will not know when you are actually going to be tired thus causing sleepless nights and trouble falling asleep. Start by setting an alarm for when it is time to start getting ready for bed to ensure you are going to sleep around the same time every night. This is the same for your wake times, as you may find that setting your alarm at the same time every morning often allows your body to start to feel sleepy around the same time that night. It will take at least a week for your body to adjust, but making your sleep schedule a priority can help you get your 6-8 needed hours of sleep.
2. ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY DURING THE DAY
Studies have shown that exercise has proven benefits of a better nights’ sleep and quality sleep at that. Similar to how your body feels right after a tough workout, exercising once a day can help your body naturally relax and feel tired in the later hours of the day, causing you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night.
3. AVOID LATE NIGHT COFFEE & ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
What you eat and drink can directly affect your quality and quantity of sleep. Caffeine is consumed by over 90% of the US population but should be avoided later in the day as this can cause you to stay awake into the late hours of the night. Be mindful of your alcohol consumption as well. While alcohol can act as a sedative for some, leading to people falling asleep faster, it can also disrupt sleep throughout the night, leading to poor quality of sleep overall. As liver enzymes metabolize the alcohol n your system, blood alcohol levels decrease in your body, allowing for more interruptions in your sleep cycle. In addition, drinking to fall asleep will most likely build up a tolerance, causing you to drink more than usual, which will lead to a number of other health problems in the future.
4. DON’T EAT RIGHT BEFORE BED
Like your drinking habits, what you eat before bed can have a great impact on your sleep. When you eat late at night, your body has to digest the food consumed, causing muscles to work for sometimes hours after a meal. So if you’re catching a late-night snack or dinner and then you go to bed, you’re likely to have restless sleep because your body has to continue to work and metabolize the food you recently consumed. Laying down after a particularly big meal also makes it more difficult to digest your food as well, which can lead to heartburn, high blood sugar levels, changes in metabolism, and weight gain.
5. GET SOME SUNLIGHT & WIND DOWN IN THE NIGHT
During the day, try to get out in the sun and expose yourself to the light as much as possible. Our bodies’ internal clocks are very responsive to light exposure, so make sure you are getting your daily dose of natural light as much as you can. When the sun goes down and you are starting to get ready for sleep, wind down with less light. Turn down the brightness on your phone and avoid using your phone right before bed. Staying in tune with the light of day and the dimmed, dark night can help regulate your body to sleep more and sleep better.