Effective Ways to Promote Better Sleep
It’s not a surprise in our fast-paced world that around 35% of people have reported sleeping fewer hours than they need (figure based on the USA population).
According to the Sleep Foundation, nearly half of us feel sleepy during the day, a sure sign that we’re not all getting sufficient rest.
We wake to feel groggy and lacking energy, and that can have a knock-on effect in our personal lives, making us less productive at work and even leading to bad eating habits and putting on weight.
The Importance of Sleep
During sleep, our bodies have a chance to repair and restore so that we awake with renewed energy. Ideally, we need a mix of deep, REM and light sleep to ensure we get up the next day feeling refreshed.
Poor sleep is not only linked to reduced productivity but it can cause health problems, worsen depression and can even lead to a greater risk of heart conditions.
Effective Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Paying more attention to our sleep routine and actively seeking out ways to get a better night’s rest can improve our concentration, give us more energy, allow our bodies to repair and refresh and boost our overall sense of wellbeing.
1. Create a Sleep Schedule
Because many people live hectic lifestyles, it can be difficult to keep to a set schedule. But heading to bed at the same time every night teaches our body to start shutting down in preparation for a good night’s sleep.
Individuals can add certain activities to help promote better sleep. For example, taking a warm bath an hour before bedtime should help someone relax more.
In short, the more often that someone can go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, the more likely they are to encourage healthy sleep patterns.
2. Build the Perfect Sleep Space
It’s a good idea to design your bedroom for sleep rather than other activities. This starts with a good mattress that supports the body. An uncomfortable bed can cause people to wake up several times during the night and disrupt their sleep.
The ideal sleeping area should also be relatively cool. We drift off more quickly and stay asleep longer if the surrounding temperature isn’t too warm.
Having electronic devices and even a TV in the bedroom can mean we don’t properly prepare our bodies for going to sleep. Try leaving everything electrical downstairs and replace the TV with some oxygenating plants.
3. Focus on Your Diet
Diet plays an integral part in health and wellbeing and we’re all aware of this. Switching to a healthier diet helps us lose weight and provides fuel for our bodies to carry out repairs as we sleep during the night. Overweight individuals are more likely to develop disruptive conditions such as sleep apnea.
Eating too late in the day can mean that our digestive system is still working overtime to digest food when we get into bed. Try to eat earlier and avoid stimulants like caffeine at least 6 hours before you turn in for the night.
4. Boost Physical Activity
Exercise throughout the day is also important for a good night’s sleep. Many people these days have fairly sedentary lifestyles, spending a large amount of time most days per week being physically inactive.
Try to incorporate moderate activity such as walking, taking a yoga class or some aerobics to boost physical activity and you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes to your sleep.
5. Limit Alcohol
Some people do drink alcohol and claim that it makes them sleep better. This, unfortunately, is not true. Alcohol acts as an anaesthetic and disrupts the normal sleep pattern which is why people who drink often wake up feeling as if they’ve had no rest at all.
Limit alcohol in the evening and you’ll find your sleep will improve over time and you’ll have more energy during the day.
6. Turn Off Devices
Smartphones and tablets emit a blue light that can then reduce the production of melatonin (known as the sleep hormone). This can mean we have trouble getting off to sleep in the first place which ensures we don’t wake refreshed.
While many devices now have night lights that are supposed to be better for us, the best solution is avoid using them at least an hour before going to bed.
7. Manage Your Stress Levels
Finally, one of the biggest causes of poor sleep in modern society is stress. If we’ve got problems at work or a family issue to handle, thoughts can run through our minds and stop us from getting to sleep. We all too often accept raised stress levels as something we just have to cope with.
Finding ways to reduce stress levels, for example meditating before you go to bed, can make a big difference to the quality of sleep. It’s not always easy to switch off at night but finding something that works for you is important.