Quick tip: You can improve your sleep quality by -- staying away from caffeine, ensuring your bedroom is sleep-friendly, avoiding daytime naps, exercising during the day, and eating light -- hours before bedtime. Simple lifestyle changes like the above can go a long way in helping you go from restlessness to restful slumber.
A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and eating healthy.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders.
The CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey in 2009 also showed that among 74,571 adults in 12 states, 35.3 percent reported fewer than seven hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period.
Poor sleep directly affects your hormones, brain function, and productivity. It also causes weight gain and increases the risk of diseases in adults and children.
For when you're having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, following are quick 5 ways to improve your sleep quality:
#1: Get in sync with your body’s sleep-wake cycle
The body’s sleep-wake cycle [also known as circadian rhythm] is a natural, internal process that regulates when you sleep/wake up and repeats roughly every 24 hours.
So, getting in sync with your body’s circadian rhythm is like swimming with waves. It’s perhaps the best, natural strategy for sleeping better.
What to do? Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day as opposed to sleeping the same number of hours, but at different times.
Doing this helps set the body’s internal clock, promoting better sleep.
#2: Control your exposure to light
Melatonin [a sleep hormone] that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle is controlled by light exposure.
Interestingly, your brain produces more melatonin when it is dark, making you feel sleepy. But if the bedroom or phone lights are in your face during bedtime, the brain confuses the lights for day and secretes less melatonin.
What to do? Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning [the closer to your get-up time, the better]. You can even have coffee by a sunny window. This helps the brain produce less melatonin, ensuring you’re in full wake mode.
Spend as much time as you can outside, during the day. For instance -- you can exercise outside, take a walk during lunch breaks or take your dog for a walk during the day.
What if there’s no sunshine out there? You can use a light box therapy which simulates sunshine.
#3: Exercise regularly during the day
If you exercise regularly during the day, chances are you’d feel less sleepy during the day and sleep better at night.
In fact, regular exercise during daytime increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
What to do? Walk around for like 10 – 15 minutes during the day. If you can go for more rigorous exercises like cycling or jogging – even better.
#4: Be choosy about what you eat or drink before bedtime
What you eat or drink during the day can have an effect on how well you sleep at night.
What to do? Avoid caffeine or nicotine if you’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
Did you know that caffeine can remain in your system for 10 – 12 hours after taking it, causing sleep problems?
Also, smoking, especially close to bedtime can lead to counting sheep when you should be fast asleep.
Avoid big meals at night. Eat dinner early and avoid heavy meals. As well, stay away from spicy or acidic foods which can lead to stomach trouble and heartburn.
#5: Wind down after a long day
Stress, anxiety and worry from your day can upset your body’s circadian rhythm, making it difficult to fall asleep at bedtime.
Taking the right steps to manage this stress can make it easier to unwind at night.
What to do? Develop a nighttime, bedroom routine that prepares your body and mind for sleep.
Practicing relaxation techniques, listening to slow soothing music, or just having a warm bath before bedtime -- can go a long way in helping you wind down from the day’s stress.
OK, that’s it guys -- but before you go…