Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and not been able to fall back asleep? Or gotten up in the morning and felt like you didn’t sleep one single hour all night? Poor quality sleep affects your overall health, for example weight management, so it is very important that you are getting good quality sleep, not just the right amount of hours in bed. If you have ever been wondering about how you could improve your sleep and also your overall health, you’ll find the answer to your dreams right here! 🙂
If you have trouble falling asleep, napping will double the trouble. However, if you know you’re going to be up late, take a power nap (20-30 min) in the afternoon. This significantly improves alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. But remember that any shut-eye within eight hours of your bedtime can sabotage your sleep. Alternatives for bringing some energy to your afternoon slump are for example going for a brisk walk, doing some jumping jacks, drinking ice water, or even splashing that icy water on your face!
As long as you don’t work out too close to your bedtime, regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep. Exercise increases body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature can help you fall asleep. 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise is enough to keep the body temperature at a higher level for four to five hours, but after that it drops lower than if you hadn’t exercised. So if you exercise five to six hours before going to bed, you will be attempting to sleep at the same time your temperature is beginning to go down. This way you’ll maximize the beneficial effects of exercise on sleep.
Rethink Your Drink
Alcohol may help to put you to sleep, but beware: after the initial effects wear off, alcohol actually causes more restless sleep and more frequent awakenings at night. If you drink alcohol close to bedtime, you will go straight to deep sleep, missing out on the usual first stage, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is critical for both brain and body health. During a night you usually have six to seven cycles of REM sleep. Drinking can cut it down to just one or two, so you will feel exhausted instead of refreshed when you wake up.
A Cup of Coffee, Please?
You can freely enjoy your morning cup of coffee, but avoid caffeine in the afternoon, because once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated. Caffeine affects the deeper stages of sleep, which is the time for cellular renewal in your body. We suggest you try tea instead, as it contains less caffeine than coffee, but can still boost alertness and concentration.
Watch Out, Smokers!
Just like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant. Smoking can keep you from falling asleep, decrease the amount of restorative deep sleep, and worsen insomnia. It also increases risk of sleep apnea, as the smoke irritates the tissues in the nose and throat, causing swelling that restricts airflow. Smoking can also disrupt your natural circadian rhythm. The consequences of this causes poor sleep, but also includes risks of developing depression, anxiety and various mood disorders. While planning your strategy to quit, you could at least smoke fewer cigarettes a few hours before you hit the sack. Putting an end to smoking will do wonders to the quality of your sleep!
Just Sleep and Sex
Sleep and sex should be the only bedroom activities. Your bed is not the place to text your friend, or check emails, double-tap on Instagram, create a new board on Pinterest or watch a movie on Netflix, because the short waves of blue light from these glowing devices can tamper with the natural release of melatonin, a sleep inducing hormone, hurting your sleep quality. The optimal bedroom temperature is on the cool side, below 76F/20C.
Free Your Mind
Free your mind and take time to calm down in the evenings about an hour before bedtime. You can meditate, do yoga, listen to music, take a warm bath… whatever works for you. Even a 10-minute pre-sleep ritual may help when time is short. Try making a list of any worries you have and a plan to deal with them to bring closure to your day. Dim the lights around the house and put aside any work, arguments, or complicated decisions. Lowering the lights tells your brain to produce melatonin. If your bedtime rituals include reading, use dimmer lights.
Healthy Evening Snacks
Foods that contain vitamins, minerals and amino acids help the body and brain get ready for sleep. Plus, hunger can wake you up so a well-chosen snack can actually help you fall and stay asleep. Finish any snack at least an hour before bed, and avoid protein-rich, high-fat foods, as they are harder to digest. Evening snacks should be limited to about 200 hundred calories so your body isn’t up all night digesting. To learn more, keep reading this blog – there’s a post coming up about these healthier night nibbles!
A dripping faucet, traffic noises, or a barking dog can cause some major sleep loss. You can use earplugs, a fan (not the kind that will keep on cheering you all night), an air-conditioner, or a white noise generator available in stores to cover up nightly noises.
Tick Tock Body Clock
Try to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day – not only on weekdays, but also on weekends. Your brain and body will get used to a healthy sleep-wake cycle, and in time, you’ll be able to fall asleep more quickly and sleep tight through the entire night. As soon as you get up, go out in bright light for a while; light is the most powerful regulator of the biological clock. If you feel tired in the morning, wash your face with cold water – it will help you wake up!
As lovely as it is to sleep with your furry friends, having pets in the bed can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. A cat or dog’s night moves can wake you, and they can bring fleas, fur, dander, and pollen to your bed, triggering allergies that will wreck your sleep. So no matter how much your best pal loves sleeping in your bed, teach him to sleep on the couch instead.
Block the Clock
Your sleep will suffer if you keep looking at the clock during the night, as it makes you worry about how little time there is left before you need to get up. Avoid the temptation; just put the alarm in a place where you can’t see it, like under the bed.
Stiff neck in the morning? Blame your pillow. Too fat or flat pillows cause problems; in order to support your neck in a neutral position, your pillow needs to be just the right size. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it twists the neck. If you sleep on your side, your nose should align with the center of your body.
The sneezing, sniffling, and itching of allergies can also cause fragmented sleep. This time your mattress may be the one to blame, as it can fill with allergy triggers, like mold and dust mite droppings, over time. Sealing your mattress, box springs, and pillow with airtight, plastic, dust proof covers will help avoid these sleep wreckers.
Even though mild low-back pain may not wake you, it can disrupt the deep stages of your sleep. Try placing a pillow between your legs to reduce stress on the lower back and to have your hips better aligned. If you like sleeping on your back, you can ease pain by tucking a pillow under your knees to help maintain the normal curve of your lower back. If you can’t sleep any other way than on your stomach, reduce the strain this position causes on your back by placing a pillow under your lower stomach and pelvis.
Skip the Sleeping Pills
Sleeping pills may be tempting to use on the nights when falling asleep feels hopeless. However, note that some sleep medicines may have side effects and can be habit forming. Sleeping pills are considered the ‘last resort’ if you have insomnia, and should ideally be used as a very short-term solution while making lifestyle and behavior changes that improve sleep. Note: Here’s a helpful list of improvements for you – your’e welcome!
If Nothing Else Helps
Chronic insomnia deserves a closer look and evaluation by a doctor. But hey, lucky you – with Emfit QS Sleep Monitor you are able to follow your sleep patterns. If your sleeplessness continues for at least a month, it’s time to dig deeper into the problem. Insomnia may be caused by depression, as well as other medical conditions, such as acid reflux, asthma, arthritis, and some medications.
Now I’m going to leave it up to you to start working your way towards sounder sleep!