10 Tips for Better Sleep
Sleep is the foundation of good health. Whether you sleep through the night or not, can have a drastic impact on the quality of your waking life. Despite this, sleep quality is on the decline. Here are ten simple tips for improving the quality of your nightly rest.
- Diagnose sleep disorders.
It's important to first rule out any medical issues that may be interfering with your sleep schedule. If you believe the source of your insomnia may be medical, or attempts to improve sleep prove ineffective, it's prudent to bring the subject up with your doctor.
- Your bed is for relaxation, not recreation.
Condition yourself to treat your bed as a space for sleep. Reading before bed can help you relax and wind down, but read in a chair near your bed if you can. This goes for late night social media and web browsing as well.
- Be mindful of your circadian rhythm.
Your body's internal clock tells you when to sleep and wake, which can make your sleep schedule resistant to change. The best way to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day - try not to sleep in, even on weekends.
- Optimize your bedroom to be a good sleep environment.
Eliminate any distractions you can control, and mitigate those you can't. Make your room slightly chilly, so it's comfortable under the covers. Disruptive sounds from outside can often be masked with white noise, such as relaxing music or background noise played from a laptop or other device.
- Exercise in the morning or mid-day.
Exercise during the day promotes a better night's rest. Make an effort to exercise at least 20 minutes every day, but avoid heavy activity later in the day so your body has time to wind down for bed.
- Keep nighttime snacks light.
Your dinner should be a good 2 hours before bed, to give your body time to digest. If you need a snack between dinner and bed, keep it light. Foods like turkey and dairy may even help you sleep, but avoid sugar, chocolate, and other potential stimulants.
- Replace your old mattress or pillows.
A high-quality mattress can remain in good condition for up to 10 years, but past that it's time for a new one. Synthetic pillows should be replaced yearly, while feather pillows can last up to 5 years. Because these things degrade over time, you may not even notice when it becomes a problem.
- Regulate napping.
A mid-day nap can be perfectly healthy, but naps later in the day or of a length greater than 20-30 minutes can disrupt your sleeping patterns. Avoid late napping and set an alarm so that when bed time comes, you welcome the rest.
- Reduce pre-sleep stimulation.
Prepare your body for sleep by winding down sources of stimulation an hour before bed, reducing the volume of evening entertainment and dimming room lights. Most devices can be set to an evening mode that lowers the intensity of blue light and overall screen brightness.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
Some sources of caffeine aren't as obvious as others. If you're a tea or soda drinker, check your brand's caffeine content. While alcohol is sometimes used as a sleep aid, the drowsiness caused by a nightcap will soon wear off, and processed alcohol can cause restlessness.
Follow these ten easy steps and you'll be well on your way to better sleep. Above all, remember that lifestyle changes are a gradual process. If you stay mindful of all of these 10 steps, your body will thank you for it.