Good quality sleep at night is as important as a healthy diet and exercise. Sleep disorders, disrupted sleep, trouble sleeping can lead to various health issues like heartburn, diabetes, kidney diseases, neurological disorders, and cardiovascular diseases. In short, poor sleep can have adverse health outcomes in the long run. Insufficient or troubled sleep can affect the circadian rhythm or the circadian cycle. Meaning, the natural body system regulating the 24-hour sleep wake cycle may be disrupted if the sleep-wake timings are too inconsistent. For individuals who have trouble sleeping or fail to overcome sleep disorders like insomnia, improved sleep techniques can help to a great extent.
What is a good night's sleep?
Is a good night's sleep only measured by the number of hours you spend in bed a night? Not really! A good night's sleep includes good quality sleep, minimum awakenings at night, and a refreshed, alert, feeling when you wake up in the morning. It is the productive rest at night that matters the most. The next question in your mind must be, how to sleep better at night?
If you are facing sleep problems or not getting good quality sleep, there is no reason to worry. Healthy sleep habits are within your control if you know the right ways of how to get more sleep. There are several ways to improve sleep hygiene and have a good night sleep.
Here are some sleep tips you can use to maximize natural sleeping hours and get a restful slumber.
Follow a sleep schedule
A good night's sleep is a part of a healthy lifestyle. To get peaceful rest, follow a regular sleep wake cycle. Set a fixed bedtime on weekdays as well as weekends. Try to sleep at the same time every day. Being consistent and adopting a regular bedtime routine encourages better sleep. A consistent sleep wake cycle allows the body clock to function better and initiate better sleep.
Create a sleep-inducing environment
Good sleep is not a matter of chance! Research shows that sleep quality is directly influenced by several environmental factors like temperature, light, sound, pollution, smell, etc. The ideal sleep environment is described as cool, quiet, and dark. Creating a congenial atmosphere in the bedroom is as vital as a comfortable bed, pillow, and comforter. To promote sound sleep, make it as dark as possible with thick curtains and blackout shades. The bright blue light from the sun or other light sources has a strong impact on the sleep wake cycle of the body clock. Avoid keeping the television, computer, or phone screen on while in bed.
Lower outside noise as much as possible by shutting doors and windows (that invite outside noise). Keep the volume of music low (if you can't do without it!). Keep the temperature soothingly cool and the room well-ventilated. Keep your linen fresh and hygienic. The smell of sweat, pets, and food may adversely affect your sleep quality. Spray some soothing scent in the room if you prefer. These environmental factors give a powerful cue to the brain that it's time to sleep.
Follow a relaxing pre-sleep routine
Poor sleep quality is as stressful as insufficient sleep. A soothing pre-sleep routine can help induce sound sleep. After a stressful day, you need to relax and calm your mind before you go to bed. Forget about office work, stress, strain, anxiety, and relax your mind. Pursue your hobby, read a book, watch television, take a bath, make diary entries, whatever eases your mind.
Choose suitable mattress, pillow, and sheet for good sleep
When considering your options about how to sleep better at night, pay attention to what you sleep on and your other bedding accessories. The quality of your mattress, pillow, body pillow and bedsheet plays an important role in helping you sleep well at night. A hard, uncomfortable bed, worn out saggy pillows, rough bedsheets may keep you awake all night, interfering with good quality sleep.
People who love to hold on to something while they sleep or pregnant women may prefer a body pillow to keep them comfortable. Synthetic materials may be uncomfortable to sleep on as they retain heat. Natural materials like cotton have higher breathability and may be the best choice of material for sheets. Wash your sheets and pillow covers at regular intervals to keep them clean and fresh smelling to get an enjoyable sleeping experience.
Go to bed when you are tired
Following a sleep routine is extremely healthy, but every day may not be the same. Tossing and turning in bed because it's sleep-o-clock can be frustrating. Sleep quality is more important than hours of bedtime.
Watching the clock ticking can increase your anxiety because you cannot force sleep on yourself. The best way out is to hit the bed when you are truly tired. If you cannot sleep even after twenty minutes of going to bed, try some light reading, or listen to music to soothe your brain and relax.
Physical activities have a direct relationship with sleep. When your body is tired, it will require rest, and that will help you fall asleep. Exercise is not only important for maintaining good health but also for improving sleep quality. However, the time when you exercise is important. Exercise increases body temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline levels. Therefore, it is considered better not to exercise at least three hours before bedtime. Exercising early in the morning is considered the best practice.
Control the fluid intake before bedtime
Rushing to the bathroom at night can be a major setback for a healthy sleep routine. It is important to keep the body hydrated and drink a lot of fluid during the day but try to limit it at night. Cut down your fluid intake at least two hours before bedtime. Studies show drinking water at night before going to bed has no significant advantages. It may lead to nocturia or an increased urge to urinate at night. Sleep disruption can negatively affect the mood or result in inadequate sleep.
Avoid food and beverages that interfere with sleep
Avoid coffee, chocolates, tea, energy drinks, and other caffeinated products at night. Caffeine is known to stimulate the central nervous system. Thus, it boosts the feelings of alertness and keeps you awake and energized, causing trouble in falling asleep.
Some other things to avoid at night for better sleep are spicy food, nicotine, sugar-rich food, fatty foods, ultra-processed foods, and alcoholic drinks.
Foods that promote good sleep are calcium-rich food like warm milk and yoghurt, almond, walnut, chamomile tea, kiwi, fish, and fibre-rich foods.
Follow these sleep tips to improve your sleep quality at night. Wake up refreshed, ready to greet a new day with an active and agile mind and body!