7 steps to improve your sleep and your health

7 steps to improve your sleep and your health

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Tossing and turning throughout the night, falling asleep only to get up at 3:00 am staring at your ceiling, or pulling an all-nighter because you suffer from insomnia…

Does that sound like you?

Well, this is the story of most of us! While sleeping is not difficult, extracting that quality sleep might seem like an impossible dream.

But we are here to promise that after reading and incorporating the habits that we have discussed in the article, you might slowly shift from a restless night to a restful slumber!

Sounds good?

According to Healthysleep.med.harvard.edu - “Researchers have identified a variety of practices and habits which are known as “sleep hygiene” - With which anyone can maximise the hours they spend sleeping, interestingly, even those affected by insomnia, jet lag, or shift work!”

Although this sounds like a mission impossible, this is the best technique one can adopt to increase their time of quality sleep, especially in this age and era which promotes the toxic culture of working 24/7.

Getting quality sleep not only helps to improve the mood and start the day better but also contributes to our health by preventing a lot of health problems. 

So, read on to know all the necessary and important techniques to improve your sleep schedule and reduce the consequences of not getting enough sleep.

The importance of a good sleep hygiene

 

Before understanding the importance of sleep hygiene, let us get to know what sleep hygiene means.

According to Sleepscore.com - “Just like dental or personal hygiene, sleep hygiene is a set of rituals that one can implement each day to get great sleep at night and feel alert and refreshed during the day. Everyone can benefit from putting good sleep hygiene practices to use because it yields higher quality sleep that one can count on every night. It’s a great way to help reduce sleep deprivation in teens.”

So, why is good sleep hygiene important?

Obtaining quality sleep not only helps maintain a fresh mood throughout the day but also promotes both physical and mental health. Thus, it improves productivity and the overall quality of life.

This is something that cannot be ignored at any cost. With so many benefits associated with a night of good quality sleep, a healthy sleep hygiene routine can be a life-changing decision. Forming good habits not only prepares us for the future but also aids to improve our health over time. 

Remember that person in your office whom you appreciate for the ultimate strength, lively nature, and activities he demonstrates throughout the day?

Maybe he is the product of a sustainable and healthy sleep hygiene routine that he must have followed for years! On the flip side, someone who looks slumber all through the day and struggles from insomnia throughout the night can be harming their quality of life. 

So, sleep hygiene is extremely essential to bottle up our energy, improve our mood, and even fight off anxiety and depression.

Now that we understand “sleep hygiene” and its importance, let us get to know the 7 simple steps we need to follow to ensure a great sleep schedule.

Setting a sleeping schedule

 

Depending on your age, you need to set aside the required amount of time for your sleep. If you are someone going to school, you might need anywhere between 8 to 13 hours of sleep (Usually up to 7 years)

And if you are a young adult or adult, the average period could be 7 to 9 hours. And for adults over 65 years of age, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is solid. 

But according to research, most people find their sweet spot in 7 to 8 hours of sleep. So, you can schedule this time aside each day to get your routine started. Be very consistent with the amount of time you sleep every day.

If you want to get some extra sleep on weekends, you can do that, but maintain the difference to 1 hour, no more, no less. Consistently sleeping for a certain amount of time can reinforce a strong sleep-wake cycle in your body.

And if you do not fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of bedtime, you can leave your space, try something soothing or relaxing, like listening to music, walking in the open air, reading or taking a hot bath to get yourself tired and ready for sleep.

No eating and drinking before bedtime

 

Eating heavy meals, drinking too much water or any other non-alcoholic beverages in large quantities is the perfect recipe for insomnia! Because it takes a long time to digest large meals, it can cause indigestion or gastritis, causing effects on your deep sleep cycle.

And drinking too much fluid can wake you up constantly for nature calls and can disrupt your sleep cycle. So, always keep the drinking part during your early day schedules and try to avoid consuming fluid at least an hour before bed.

It is neither recommended that you should go to bed hungry or empty. Heavy meals or no meals - Both can cause extreme discomfort, ruining the sleep schedule. So, pay attention to what you consume during the night and how it affects your sleep.

Note - Please pay caution to nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol products. Because nicotine and caffeine have stimulating effects, which takes hours to wear off, these substances can cause a wreck in your sleep cycle!

And even though alcohol makes you fall asleep faster, it can cause heavy headaches later during sleep. 

No phones and computers before bedtime

 

Ensure to practise relaxing activities 1 to 2 hours before you slip to sleep. Take hot baths, read/listen to books, or perform stretches that relax your body and prepare you to fall asleep. 

Avoid stressful and stimulating activities like performing high-intensity workouts or being exposed to blue lights emitted through phones and computers. 

Here’s the thing, the blue light emitted from these gadgets, as per the research, has been found to decrease the levels of melatonin (sleep hormone) and increase the levels of cortisol (stress hormone). 

This means that your body experiences extreme insomnia, tiredness, and irritability due to low levels of melatonin. 

Why does this happen?

Because the blue light emitted by the electronic gadgets mimic daylight. Daylight is known to make us feel active and alert. This is good during the day but can cause adverse effects during the night, throwing off our circadian rhythm.

So, knowing these reasons, it is advised to keep your gadgets away before you drift to sleep. This will not only contribute to a good quality sleep but can also improve your screen time.

Being physically active during the day

 

Exercising early in the day can promote faster sleep and a night of sound sleep at that. But do remember that exercising too close to bedtime can cause complete reverse effects. 

Exercise is known to stimulate the stress hormone called cortisol, which helps your brain to remain active during the day.

So, exercising early can help you to stay active and perform in your high energy throughout the day and fall asleep during the night because of tiredness. So, add a workout routine to your schedule three hours before bed or early in the morning.

Exercise has many benefits other than improving sleep quality. Some of them are listed below -

    1. Daily activities like workouts or normal exercise can prevent heart attacks and strokes by preventing fat build-up in the body/reducing bad cholesterol in the body.
    2. By helping to reduce body fat, regular physical activities can reduce high blood pressure associated with fat.
    3. Regular physical activity also helps you to keep non-insulin-dependent diabetes in check.
    4. Helps manage stress and promotes a better mood.

Stop stressing so much

 

Stress impacts your sleep. Involving in emotional talks during the night, or remembering an embarrassing moment that took place during the day and keeping your brain busy over the same thoughts can be the culprit behind your insomnia or restlessness!

So, try to stay out of your worries and free your brain from the stressful associations of the day. We know, it’s easier said than done, but, making this a habit will save you from future sleep troubles.

One activity we highly recommend to take off your brain from the worries and stress that is not letting you wind down is to jot down your thoughts into a diary. Write everything that might be troubling you, because journaling is known to be the best remedy for stress.

Now that you have written down everything, you can take a look at it in the morning of the next day, and decide if the thoughts are worth thinking about. Start with one thought a day, one action a day.

Stress management is difficult but is not impossible, so, take your time, but be persistent with your efforts.

Creating a peaceful sleeping environment

 

A sound slumber is promoted by a quiet, dark, and soothing ambience. How do you achieve this environment in your bedroom?

    1. You need to lower down the noises from outside, use thick curtains or play some background music to drown the outside noise. 
    2. Use shades that will block out the outside light and help you to fall asleep sooner or you can also use an eye mask to do the same.
    3. The temperature must not be too hot or too cold. Regulate your temperature to be around 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Have enough ventilation in the room to prevent any breathing problems or heat securing the place.
    4. Finally, even if you follow all the above steps, without a proper mattress that aids in better sleep, everything goes in vain! So, always have a comfortable mattress by your side (You can check our site to choose the right mattress in the marketplace)

Limit your bedroom to certain activities like sleep and naps only. This will create a strong mental association that your bedroom is a space where you only sleep and do nothing else.

With that being said, let’s move to the last part of the section.

Limit your daytime naps

 

A long day nap can be good but sometimes it can interfere with your nighttime sleep schedule. If you feel too stressed out during the day and need to take a nap to ease out the stress and strain, you can do so, but limit your naps to 30 minutes.

Also, do not take naps a few hours before you go to bed. But if you work night shifts, the story might be different. You might need to take frequent naps or complete naps during the days to make up for your sleep loss during the night.

And when you take naps during the day, do it mindfully. You have to once again follow the steps of blocking out the outside noise and lights and get the complete benefit of your 30-minute sleep.

Once again, don’t sleep on your couch or a place that your mind doesn’t associate with sleep, if possible (work from home scenario), sleep on your bed and then get back to your workplace with a refreshed mind.

Conclusion

 

And that’s where we end today!

These steps can seem extremely difficult during the first few days, but as you incorporate them into your schedule and consistently follow them through for the next few weeks, your chances of having sound slumber will increase.

That being said, not all sleep problems and disorders can be addressed with these steps. Sleep disorders like apnea and narcolepsy might need clinical examination and assistance.

If your sleep routine doesn’t improve or show signs of improvement with these sleep hygiene methods, please make sure to contact your doctor or sleep specialist for remedies and professional suggestions.

FAQ

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