Have you ever felt so unmotivated and distressed the day after a restless night of tossing and turning in your bed, trying to find a way to fall asleep? Most of the time, counting sheep doesn’t do it. Occasionally, we all experience sleep issues, but it can be a real problem when insomnia persists. Besides making us tired and irritable, lack of sleep can negatively affect our health, leading to obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The number of hours of sleep tends to change and decrease as we age, resulting in more restless nights and weary mornings. Women often experience it during the time of menopause, when hot flashes and other symptoms awaken them. Your circadian rhythm also compensates for the change in dark and light. With age, it undergoes a shift, thus making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
Why Is Getting Better Sleep Important?
The importance of sleep cannot be understated, just like the importance of exercise and a nutritious diet. This is because sleep is essential for our health and fitness–a lack of sleep is detrimental to hormone levels, exercise performance and brain function. Additionally, it can cause weight gain and increase disease risk in children and adults.
In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better and become healthier. Therefore, a good night’s sleep is crucial to maintaining and improving your health, as well as losing weight.
There has been a decline in both sleep quality and quantity over the past few decades. As a result, many people have trouble sleeping regularly.
We all know better sleep is better for us. But better sleep doesn’t just happen – it requires planning and preparation.
5 Things You Can Do to Get Better Quality Rest
Exercise is better for sleep than alcohol. So if you have trouble sleeping, try exercise instead of a nightcap. A new study found that people who exercised regularly slept better and longer than those who drank alcohol before bedtime.
People who work out often enjoy better sleep quality than those getting the same amount of rest from daily activities but not exercising at all, or worse – sitting on the couch binging Netflix! Exercise also helps boost body temperature (which can drop during our normal nightly “cooling” process), making us feel warmer when we go to bed – perfect for a better shut-eye!
2. Avoid Caffeine or Alcohol before Bedtime (or at Least Limit How Much You Drink)
Caffeine and alcohol are both stimulants that can keep you up at night. Try to avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol in the evening, especially if you have trouble sleeping. If you do drink caffeine or alcohol before bedtime, try limiting yourself to one serving.
Both caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating, so they can also lead to restless sleep by making you wake up frequently to use the bathroom.
If you’re looking for a better way to relax before bed, consider reading instead of having a drink. Or take a hot bath with some soothing aromatherapy oils like lavender or chamomile – these may help lull you into slumberland!
3. Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment
Your bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet. It shouldn’t be too hot or cold because the right amount of airflow will help keep you comfortable at night. And if your brain doesn’t shut off because it’s too bright in there, consider using a sleeping mask! Or maybe have black-out blinds installed? If you have trouble falling asleep because of noises outside your window, try earplugs or, better yet, invest in a white noise machine that can drown out distracting sounds so they don’t wake you up.
4. Keep Electronics at Bay
Turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep. Make sure to put your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” too! The light from the screen will interfere with your natural circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock) by suppressing melatonin production while increasing cortisol levels. Additionally, having these items within reach might encourage us to browse social media or other stimulating sites, causing undue stress on our central nervous system.
Daytime worries can indeed come to the surface at night. Stress is a stimulus. It activates the fight-or-flight hormones that work against sleep. Let yourself wind down before going to bed. In addition to improving sleep, learning some form of relaxation response can also help reduce daytime anxiety. Breathing deeply can help you relax. Take deep breaths and then exhale.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try some of these tips to help improve your rest. Better sleep will help improve your mood, energy levels and overall health! Exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, keeping electronics away from bedtime, and de-stressing can all help improve sleep quality.