People who have experienced restless nights of tossing and turning in bed understand the value of a good night's sleep. Sleep not only helps you feel refreshed the next day, but it also leaves effects on your emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
Your sleep quality at night affects your functionality during the day, and what you do during the day affects the way you sleep at night. Many people - for example, those with insomnia or a sleep disorder - would love to know how to sleep better. We've provided some simple tips below on how to improve sleep quality. So if you're looking for ideas to get the best night’s sleep, this article has got you covered.
Optimize Your Sleep Schedule
Your first step to quality sleep starts with the optimization of your sleep schedule. Start by assessing your sleep routine to dig into the underlying sleep problems. How many hours of sleep are you getting every night? Does your sleep-wake cycle vary significantly between the week and the weekend? Do you wake up every morning after a ten-hour sleep but still don't feel energized?
One of the best ways to improve your sleep is to keep in sync with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm. Your body's internal biological clock will tell you when your body is ready to hit the bed and at what time you should be prepared to start the day in the morning.
Sleeping at a consistent time every day - with no exceptions made for weekends - will help you set your internal clock and give you a better, more energizing night's sleep. To do this, try going to bed at a time you're naturally tired so that you don't keep tossing in bed, waiting for rest. Eventually, you may not even need an alarm to wake up because when you're getting enough quality sleep, your body will automatically wake up fresh. Sleeping at the right time - even if the actual sleep hours are less - can improve your mood, energy levels, hormonal balance, happiness, and health.
If, on some days, you sleep later than your regular bedtime, don't make up for it by sleeping in the next day. It is a good idea to catch up on sleep and pay off your sleep debt by napping in the afternoon. Napping for around 20 minutes has been shown to have great effects on the body and also promotes healthy sleep at night.
Create a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom
Research has proven that creating an atmosphere that promotes sleep can help sleep come faster, almost 80% of the time. Here are some sleep tips you can use to create a sleep-inducing bedroom close to bedtime:
- Dim the lights: When you're ready to go to bed, put away your electronic devices, and turn off the lights. Also, close the curtains and blinds to block natural light. Make sure all appliances that blink are also turned off so that your body can wind down for sleep. Our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin when it's dark, helping us with relaxing and staying asleep. Light lowers melatonin production, which is why your bedroom should not be lit up at bedtime.
- Avoid screens at least 2 hours before bedtime: Screens emit blue light that triggers and stimulate the brain to stay alert. Using a screen, including television, right before bed can hinder the process of falling asleep, and make you toss and turn in bed even when it's way past your bedtime. You want your mind to relax for sleep, so don't do anything that could trigger the mental cog works to keep turning right before bed.
- Help your mind associate your bed with sleep: If you're doing all kinds of activities in your bed like eating, watching television, playing with your kids, then your mind will not associate the bed with being a place to relax. As such, sleep will take a long time coming. To improve sleep quality, your mind needs to associate the bed with sleep.
- Keep the lights switched off if you get up during the night: If you need to get up during the night, keep a flashlight ready to help you navigate in the dark. Or you can use a dim nightlight to keep the melatonin levels high, making it easier to fall back asleep.
Develop a Pre-Bed Routine
If you're practicing going to bed early and want to sleep better, try developing a relaxing bedtime routine just lying down, wrapped in a throw blanket. This might sound shocking, but start preparing for sleep two hours before heading to bed. Be sure to turn off your television, put away your devices, and dim down whatever lights you can. This will signal to your mind that it's time to end the day and help your mind prepare itself for sleep.
If you are not in the habit of exercising, try to incorporate some low-impact exercise into your routine at least an hour before bed. Avoid exercising too vigorously right before bedtime, as that alerts the brain instead of helping it relax. Practice some light exercises like stretching, yoga, or even meditation to help your body unwind and relax the muscles for a good sleep at night. But, if you have a vigorous exercise routine, try to get that done at least three hours before bedtime so that the hormones produced during exercise that stimulate the mind and body's metabolism do not affect your sleep cycle.
You should also try to eat smart during the day so that you can sleep well at night. Strictly avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime because these chemicals disrupt sleep like no other! Having a heavy meal at night or too much liquid intake after the evening can also make your sleep restless. Either you'll be getting up, again and again, to go to the toilet, or your heavy meal will give you heartburn, preventing you from falling asleep.
It's also essential to have a relaxing activity as a bedtime routine, such as reading. Reading relaxes the mind and is a wonderful alternative to using your phone right before bed. You can also share the events of the day with your partner because unloading your worries also helps you relax and loosen up. Once your brain has sufficiently slowed down after a day of activities, you will finally fall asleep.
Tips to Fall Asleep
Here’re more tips to get a good night’s sleep:
- Lavender: Soothing scents can help the body unwind. Lavender is a relaxing scent, widely used to create a soothing ambiance. It is good to buy a lavender candle and burn it for some time before bed to create a sleep-centric atmosphere. Make sure you blow the candle out before falling asleep to avoid any hazards.
- Warm bath: A warm bath has been proven to be a great sleep help. It loosens the muscles, relaxes the mind, and helps sleep come faster.
- Temperature: You will be uncomfortable if the weather is too hot or too cold. So adjust the temperature of your bedroom before bedtime to help you fall asleep faster.
If you’re struggling to get the best night’s sleep, the tips provided above are sure to help you. But remember that it may take some time for your body to get into the habit of relaxing at a specific time before bed. So don't give up! Keep building that routine and see how well it promotes a healthy sleep pattern.