Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and well-being. There’s nothing more refreshing than a night of relaxation on a comfortable mattress. Fortunately, if you’re struggling to get quality shut-eye, there are plenty of smart tips to help you sleep better.
Experiencing sleepless nights from insomnia or other issues can make it hard to concentrate during waking hours. If you’re tossing and turning for hours on end, no matter how comfortable your mattress and pillows may be, it’s time to do something about it.
Here’s a look at some things you might try in order to improve your sleep quality. If trouble getting to sleep is an ongoing issue, see your doctor
Circadian Rhythm And Sleep Quality
Your circadian rhythm is a major key to improving your sleep quality. Do you tend to have a set sleep schedule? If you do, the circadian rhythm has a lot to do with it.
Also known as your body clock, the circadian rhythm is the main factor when it comes to determining when you’re energized and when you’re tired during the day. Have you ever wondered why you tend to be more alert during the daytime and ready to go to bed at a certain time of night?
One of the main reasons is a part of your brain that is stimulated by light. This part of the brain controls your circadian rhythm. Depending on how your rhythm works, you might be a morning person or you might be a night owl.
Whatever category applies to you, your circadian rhythm gives your body natural clues regarding when to go to bed and when to get out of bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, however, if you sleep in one day or stay up much later than usual one night, that can disrupt your sleep schedule.1
What To Do In The Evening Hours Before You Go To Bed
One big key to sleep quality is what you do in the evening, shortly before you get into bed. Minimizing stress and stimulation are important for getting sound, regular sleep. Here are a few ways to go about it.
Stay Away From Blue Light
One reason you might be experiencing sleep deprivation is because you’re glued to your smartphone, television, or other electronic devices all evening – right up until bedtime. Many people keep looking at their devices even after they get in bed. These devices emit blue light, which can make it hard to get to sleep.
The reason is that this type of light exposure plays tricks on your mind. It gives your brain the impression that it’s actually daytime rather than time to go to bed. As a result, your body has a harder time relaxing so you can get to sleep.2
Put away or turn off the screens at least an hour before bed. If you find that this is too difficult to do, try installing a blue light filter on your device.
Avoid Caffeine And Other Liquids
If you drink a cup of coffee or caffeinated soda before bed, that makes getting to sleep a lot more difficult. Your mind stays stimulated, and your brain can’t relax as a result. According to one study, drinking coffee as early as six hours before getting into bed can really hurt your sleep quality.3
But caffeine isn’t the only drink that can increase the risk for insomnia. If you drink excessive amounts of liquid an hour or two before getting in bed, that can lead to an issue called nocturia. This is urinating excessively at night, which can disrupt your sleep cycle.4
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is great. It gets your heart rate up so you feel energized, relieves stress, and it can go a long way toward improving your overall health. It may also help your sleep quality. It helps you stay asleep longer by decreasing the level of the stress hormone cortisol.5
There is evidence that a morning workout may help you sleep better when you get in bed at night.6Research also indicates that people with insomnia have better sleep after a period of exercise than by taking most medications used to address the condition.7
It’s important to note that some people have trouble falling asleep right after a workout because their endorphin levels are high. Try to time your workout for earlier in the day rather than right before bed time.
Avoid Alcohol And Late-Night Snacking
Having a nightcap before going to bed isn’t a good idea. Alcohol has been shown to increase symptoms associated with sleep apnea, such as breathing loudly, snoring, and other sleep-related issues.8 It may also disrupt your circadian rhythm.9
Also, eating right before you go to bed might make you stay awake longer than you want. If your bedtime ritual includes having a snack before sleeping, you might want to reconsider.10
Take A Bath Or Shower
You know how relaxing a warm bath can be, and how it seems to melt away the stress of the day. Well, if you take a bath or shower before sleeping, it could help you snooze a lot faster than normal.
In one study, participants who took a bath an hour and a half before going to bed showed better sleep quality. They also enjoyed deeper sleep.11
What Else Might Help With Relaxation And Sleep?
There are a few other things you might try that could help improve your sleep quality.
Melatonin – This is a hormone that basically tells your brain when it’s time to go to bed. There are supplements containing melatonin that may help people with insomnia.12 Ask your doctor if melatonin is a good option for you.
Lavender oil – Lavender is an herb that helps calm the body. It may also help you get to sleep.13 You might try spraying some on your pillow or getting an oil diffuser.
Relaxing music – Music can really soothe the body, resulting in progressive muscle relaxation from your head to your toes. Listening to relaxing music has shown promise in helping people suffering from insomnia fall asleep.14
Sleep Disorders, Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Apnea, And More: Know When To See The Doctor
If you’re having issues getting to sleep, and the above tips aren’t effective, you should strongly consider seeking medical help. You could have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, or you could be dealing with some other health-related issues.
Sleep apnea is very common, and must be diagnosed by a doctor. It interferes with your breathing during the night.
In many instances, it seems like you’re trying to hold your breath while you’re sleeping. According to one study, as many as 24 percent of men suffer from this sleep disorder, along with nearly 10 percent of women.15
Don’t let a lack of quality sleep affect your life. It can lead to increased stress, disrupted breathing patterns, and several other issues. Talk to your doctor to determine the best way of addressing the situation.
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