Avoid excess use of Electronics!
Something that wouldn’t have affected our society some decades ago is now a leading cause of sleeping disorders. One of the things that will prevent you from sleeping better is the use of electronics. Our modern society is used to check our mobile phones, laptops, and tablets just before bedtime. Most of us also use those electronics directly when in bed, which affects our ability to sleep. The issue is not related to the actual reason for the use of electronics themselves. The problem is related to the light emanating from them, which inhibits melatonin production. Melatonin is the sleep-inducing hormones that makes our body fall asleep and regenerate the energy needed for our daily activities.
Additionally, the excitement and concentration we need when dealing with a TV or a laptop creates an attention need in our brain. The stimulation caused by electronic devices, together with the lack of melatonin production, is one of the major causes of insomnia. Something that not many people know is that the use of electronics also affects our circadian rhythm. To sleep better, we need to control our body’s circadian rhythm. In 2012, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute released a study that confirms that light from tablets and computers directly affects the secretion of melatonin, thus affecting our sleep directly. Even a period of short exposure (up to 2 hours) directly affects bedtime, and even more for teenagers.
Using electronics at night is not the only issue. Even just using electronics during the day will affect your ability to sleep better. In 2015, BMJ Open published a study that confirms the direct relation between a reduction in the hours and quality of sleep and the use of electronics in teenagers.
If you want to sleep better, make sure to switch off any electronics in your bedroom like your TV, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone. It is important to leave as much time in between your use of electronics and bedtime. A minimum of 30 minutes without your device should do the trick, but two hours or more is ideal. You can use these last 2 hours to do other activities such as spend some quality family time or reading a nice book. Listening to music is also an extremely good way to relax properly and sleep better.
Avoid Smoking before Bedtime!
We all know, one way or another, that smoking is generically not good for our body. Disturbed sleep is just another one of the many reasons why smoking is bad for us. Although we believe that smoking is a relaxing activity, nicotine acts as a stimulant in our body. If you do happen to smoke before sleep, you may experience issues such as delayed sleep or waking up during the night. Additionally, even trying to stop smoking can be harmful seeing that nicotine withdrawal also leads to restlessness.
In 2006, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a study showing how smoking cigarettes was directly associated with sleep disturbances. Later, in 2008, another study was published, this time by the American College of Chest Physicians. They proved that smokers are up to four times more likely to report restlessness than non-smokers. This is because of the stimulating effects of nicotine.
Once again, in 2012, an additional study by the Addiction Biology Journal, reported that nicotine dependence and the intensity of smoking was directly associated with a much shorter sleep duration. Because of its effects on our lungs, smoking also leads to some levels of sleep apnea in certain subjects. Sleep apnea is extremely dangerous to life as it can lead to death if untreated in time.
But there is good news, so worry not! If you want to sleep better and you are a smoker, there is a solution! Whenever you quit smoking, you will almost immediately improve your quality of sleep. You will breathe better, be more energetic, improve the quality of your exercise and did we mention that you will sleep better? If you need help to quit smoking, make sure to consult your physician of choice or find any support groups in your area.
Exercise is key to better sleep, not only because it uses the energy of your body, but because of the benefits it provides. Those who do not exercise regularly will most likely have problems with their sleep patterns. To sleep better you will need to consume your energy and activate your metabolism.
This has been proven several times. Most recently, in a survey that took place in 2013, published by the National Sleep Foundation. Participants that exercised moderately or professionally would sleep better than those who didn’t. Another research from 2011, published in the notes of the Mental Health and Physical Activity Magazine, proved that exercising the recommended 150 minutes a week would result in better sleeping patterns. To sleep better is not the only benefit. Another benefit is more energy and alertness during the daytime.
That same year, another study, which was published in Sleep Research, investigated vigorous late-night workouts. It resulted in proof that this does not affect sleep. Exercise could, however, affect the cardiac autonomic control of your heart when you fall asleep. It is said that exercising before bed is not good, but it could not be further from the truth.
Finally, another study published in 2014 by Biomed Research International confirmed that exercise is good. Exercise minimises the impairments that are usually associated with insomnia (chronic primary). So, if you wish to sleep better and feel healthier, exercising is your solution. Try waking up early and exercising either before work or during your lunch break. It doesn’t have to be intense, or even every day. A little goes a long way! Start with some pilates, yoga or maybe a nice stroll in the evening after work. You can then upgrade to running or doing some team sports.
Alcohol is the Enemy of your Sleep Patterns!
Even though many fall asleep after a few drinks, booze may kill your sleeping patterns. If you drink one glass of wine every now and then, you don’t need to worry. However, if you like partying and blacking out, then it might be an issue. Whenever you get heavily drunk, you will wake up often during the night (either to drink or use the bathroom). Not only that, heavy drinking is directly related to interference of REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep), which in the long run results in a feeling of restlessness in the morning after.
Alcohol affects your body in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. It is your biggest enemy if you want to sleep better. The 2013 study, that was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, proved that whenever you drink your deep sleep is strong at the very beginning of the night, but it is weakened as time goes by. This results in your body feeling lethargic. Additionally, if you fall asleep late, then you will most likely wake up late. Making it harder for your body to follow a routine and affecting your metabolism. Your sleep cycle will be chaos and will make you feel restless and lethargic every other day.
Also, whenever you drink, you may feel hungover the next day. One of the solutions to hangovers is naps. However, napping during the day will also affect your chances to sleep better at night. All in all, drinking excessive alcohol is dangerous to your mental and physical health. If you do wish to go out, make sure not to drink too much. Additionally, always drink a glass of water for each glass of alcohol you consume. This way you will keep your body hydrated and will respond better to recovering the next day.
No Coffee before Sleeping!
Let’s face it, a nice Espresso is always the best way to end a meal and many do follow this rule, even at dinnertime. But we have unfortunate news about this tasty drink. First of all, caffeine is a stimulant, which means that it will make your body alert and awake, even if you don’t feel any changes. Caffeine can also cause dizziness and nervousness as well as affect your REM sleep.
Even though you may think that caffeine is not affecting your sleep, it does affect your body. A study that was published back in 2013 by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine confirmed that any caffeine intake within the last 6 hours before sleeping will most definitely affect your body. If you have troubles sleeping, remove any caffeinated drink from your diet for the last half of the day. The best time to consume coffee or sodas is during the day, not before bed time.
Caffeine affects your body in many ways. Preventing sleep is one of them but there are many others as well. It will increase your anxiety and nervousness. It can even cause dizziness. Additionally, caffeine is not only found in coffee. Nowadays, most sodas also have caffeine as one of their active ingredients. Make sure to check the list of ingredients on the back label of your favorite drinks. This way you will know what to avoid before bedtime to sleep better.
If you feel like having a hot drink, stick to herbal teas or hot chocolate. Try avoiding coffee for at least six hours before your regular sleep time. You will sleep better and feel more rested. Another tip to sleep better has to do with drinks in general. To avoid unnecessary trips to the bathroom, restrict any drink intake (even water) before bedtime.
Avoid High-Fat Dinners!
There are many things that can affect your sleep quality, and a huge dinner is one of them. If you ever had a holiday dinner with your family, you will remember the hard night afterward. A high fat, together with low fiber dinner will directly affect your sleep. The Chinese International Journal of Obesity confirmed back in 2008 that in China, those who slept an average of 7 hours were also the same who ate more fat in their meals, while explaining that those who ate healthier meals would sleep 7 to 9 hours.
This study made the connection between fat and the shortness of a night of sleep. Another study published in 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, established the link with other facts such as low fibre and high sugar intake. The best way to sleep better is to have light and healthy dinners. Every now and then, it is alright to give yourself a nice cheat dinner or a party. However, for your normal day-to-day health, the best way forward is with high fiber, low fat, and high protein dinners. Avoiding sugars is another excellent way to sleep better. Sugar is arousing and will keep your body going for hours, which is the opposite of what your mind wants.
We suggest having light dinners 2-3 hours before bedtime. Avoid it consuming around your perfect sleeping time. This will give your body the necessary time to digest and process the nutrients without leaving the hard digestion process to a sleepy body. Your metabolism will also improve by following these suggestions. A stable and healthy diet will most certainly help you to sleep better in no time!
Regulate your Bedroom’s Light and Temperature!
Our body is programmed in such a way that it relates darkness to sleeping. This is the reason why it can resist very hard to sleep in bright places or during the day. The perfect bedroom to sleep better in is one that is dark and has a balanced temperature. The hormone that is in charge of causing our sleep is called melatonin. It is released by the pineal gland and will lower your body temperature while causing sleepiness.
Even the slightest light will disrupt the production of melatonin. This means even cell phones or computers will stop or diminish the production of melatonin, which will affect your overall sleep quality. Because of what we explained above, if your body sees light in any form, it will consider that day has arrived and during the day your body is not supposed to be sleeping. With a lower production of melatonin, your body won’t rest properly, and you will find it hard to fall asleep, or even wake up several times during the night.
To sleep better, make sure to keep your room dark and quiet during the night. To stop streetlights from entering, use curtains or shades on your windows. Noise will also affect your sleep. If you have a sleeping partner who snores or a clock in the bedroom, those noises may affect your sleep. We suggest the use of earplugs to solve this issue.
To sleep better, your bedroom needs to be at an average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit). If your bedroom is too warm or too cold, your REM sleep will be affected, and you will wake up either shaking from cold or sweating from the heat. Even the slightest modification in your bedroom temperature can either make your sleep better or worse.
Any young parent with a baby will be able to testify to the fact that sleep became a commodity more valuable than gold. They will be able to tell you that the saying ‘sleeping like a baby’ is one of the worst expressions ever. That the person who came up with it should try and sleep for only two hours at a time and scream the other hours in-between. They will also be able to tell you about the time that they discovered routine and how it became the beacon of hope that illuminated the path to a full night’s sleep.
Babies don’t have any other way of telling you that they are tired, the only tool they have at their disposal is a voice, a voice that will scream until its needs are met. This does not mean that babies are unintelligent; on the contrary, they soak up every little detail of life and learn much faster than an adult. Therefore, one must establish a sleeping routine with them as soon as possible. It creates a pattern, which in turn makes the baby feel relaxed and secure in the knowing of what comes next.
So what’s the difference between babies and adults? Nothing really. Our brains work the same as adults as when we were babies. The only problem is that we tend to over-stimulate our brains and this leads to sleep disturbances.
In creating bedtime routines as an adult, you program your brain to go into sleep mode. The key is to find something that you can do 30-60 minutes before you intend to go to sleep so that you can relax and begin to shut down. This will differ from person to person, but establishing that routine will help you sleep like the dead.
Bring changes in your lifestyle!
This is probably one of the best and most obvious ways to improve the quality of your sleep. There is a strong connection between the quality of your bed and the quality of your sleep. The better the bed, the better your chances are at having a good night’s rest.
Many people tend to neglect their mattresses and end up using the same mattress for an extended period, so much so that it loses the initial support that was good for sleeping posture. It results in back and neck pain at bad night’s sleep. If you can’t afford a new mattress, you should regularly rotate and flip it so that the wear is not concentrated in one spot.
Apart from your bed, your bedroom itself needs to be conducive to sleep. A cluttered and untidy bedroom has been known to disturb sleep. This is because a cluttered room looks busy and this causes the brain to be stimulated and results in poor sleep quality. The National Sleep Foundation found that people who make their beds in the morning are 19% more likely to have a good night’s rest.
Once the mess is cleared up, you need to work on the temperature. Trying to sleep in room that is too hot is like taking a jog. As your body heats up, it also kicks into temperature regulation mode. This mean that your body actively tries various strategies to try and cool itself down. That is an amazing little feature when you are actually exercising, but not so much when you are trying to get some desperately needed sleep. There are a number of different ways you can cool the temperature of your room. Ranging from fully automated climate control systems, to putting your comforter in the freezer, it all just depends on your budget really.