If only we all got to enjoy that good night’s sleep each time we went to bed. For those who don’t not all is lost. There is actually a lot you can do to improve your sleep. Here are ten things you are probably doing that lead to poor sleep and sleep interruptions.
#1 No Bedtime Routine
It may sound silly, but there is a reason children usually sleep better than adults. They have a set order of habits that ease them into a restful sleep. For you, it doesn’t have to be bedtime stories, it can be anything from dimming the lights, listening to relaxing music, or reading something not too engaging.
#2 Irregular Sleep Schedule
Having a regular sleep schedule helps your body clock get into a cycle which promotes better sleep. People who suffer from the consequences of an erratic sleep schedule are usually ones who work different shifts or travel frequently between time zones. The general rule is that if you can’t fall asleep in the first 15 minutes of going to bed, it is best to get up and do something relaxing (or a small chore that is on your mind, such as watering a plant or doing the dishes). Stressing over your inability to fall asleep has adverse effects.
#3 The Wrong Mattress
Even if you tick all the boxes of proper bedtime routines and follow all rules to combat sleep disruptions, if you choose the wrong mattress, you will still be waking up in pain and discomfort each morning. High-quality, memory foam mattresses with the right hardness given your personal preferences are the way to go.
#4 Eating Right Before Bed (Or Going to Bed Hungry)
Body discomfort is always a reason not to fall asleep. This is why, if you are stuffed or hungry, you will have difficulty going into Dreamland. Also, limit the amount of liquid you are taking before bed to avoid disruptive (and annoying) middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet.
There are instances when you fall asleep too quickly after a serious meal but wake up a couple of hours after. This might point to blood sugar fluctuations, which is yet another reason not to go overboard with your dinner. If, on the contrary, you are feeling rather hungry, a handful of nuts are a good option to satiate your craving.
#5 Afternoon Coffee & Tea
If you are a caffeine addict, you might want to reconsider getting that much-desired yet sleep-sabotaging extra cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon. The problem with combatting fatigue with caffeine is that it stays in your system for a good 6 hours after ingestion. So, a 5 p.m. black tea or coffee will prevent you from going to bed at 10 p.m. You can substitute these with an afternoon smoothie that will re-energize you without having to sacrifice your sleep later.
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can help you fall asleep, but it can also leave you sleepless for hours. It is proven that alcohol reduces your REM sleep, a.k.a., your deep sleep that actually lets your mind rest. As alcohol begins to wear off, your body naturally starts waking up from its sedative state, and you are set up for a restless night.
#7 Not Enough Exercising
The amount of exercise you do, as well as the times of the day you perform it, all reflect on your sleep. The natural benefit of doing your daily dose of cardio is both in physically tiring the body and in releasing the stress that is also at fault for poor sleep. Even if you are not keen on running the treadmill, you can always make the habit of taking the stairs more often.
#8 Stress, Stress, Stress
While stress is a very debatable matter, there is a lot you can do to manage your levels more effectively. Start your morning with a realistic to-do list and avoid overstuffing it with chores and meetings you can’t physically complete within the day. Morning meditation is also a great way to promote better sleep and shake off some extra stress that is truly doing you no good.
#9 Avoid Screens
It is scientifically proven that any kind of screen time (TV, tablet, phone, etc.) can disrupt your sleep in the long-run. What watching TV in bed does is it reduces the melatonin levels in your body (the hormone that regulates sleep). The blue light that electronic devices emit affects your brain’s circuitry for wakefulness and light, which stimulates you to stay awake longer. If you wish to actively help yourself sleep better, it is best to turn off your electronic devices at least an hour before going to bed.
#10 Too Much Light
Light is a natural regulator of the biological clock. Aside from the light emitted from your TV and phone, the one from your lighting fixtures can also disrupt your sleep. When the lights are dimmed, your brain releases sleep-inducing melatonin. So, try using room-darkening shades, low-wattage bulbs for your bedside lamps, and even eye masks and earplugs. Humans sleep best under cool, dark, and quiet conditions.
Bonus # Room Temperature & Pillow Choice
Speaking of the ideal sleeping conditions for people, it is essential that your bedroom is not too hot or cold. Sweating or shivering will certainly prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, and that is something you can try to regulate. Your choice of pillow is also extremely important. Waking up in pain can be the result of having a too hard or extremely soft pillow. If it is not comfortable enough, your neck and shoulders will be under constant pressure that can cause chronic aches and constant stiffness.
As you can see, the fight over better sleep is far from lost. You may already be following some of the directions in this blog, but just imagine the improvement you will experience if you follow them all!
So, lay back, play some jazz, feel the sazz, and drift away into sleepy oblivion.