The importance of sleep to your health and well-being can not be understated. But not all sleep is good sleep. Sometimes our irregular schedules, diets, exercise and even the time we spend scrolling through screens can impact the quantity and quality of the sleep we get. If you’d like to get the best sleep of your life and wake up well-rested and ready to take on the day, read on for a few simple tips that could improve the quality of your sleep.
Stick To Your Sleep Schedule
An erratic sleep schedule can take its toll on the quality and quantity of sleep you get on a regular basis. By adhering to a sleep schedule, even on weekends and holidays, you can reinforce your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, according to the Mayo Clinic. This consistency can help you to feel tired at roughly the same time every night and leave yourself enough sleep hours in the night to wake feeling refreshed the next morning.
This advice from the Mayo Clinic comes with one caveat, however. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes of your head hitting the pillow at your designated bedtime, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Go back to bed when you feel tired. Stressing out about not being able to fall asleep could exacerbate the issue, causing you to lose even more sleep.
Stay Away From Caffeine
Avoiding stimulating caffeine right before bed seems like a no-brainer, but it may be wise to lay off the coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks for a few hours before you even think about hitting the sack. According to Sleep Education, caffeine has a half-life of three to five hours, meaning it takes that long for your body to eliminate half of the drug. While caffeine reaches its peak level in your blood within 30 to 60 minutes, its effects can last from eight to 14 hours.
To make sure your caffeine habit isn’t keeping you up at night, try to avoid caffeinated beverages in the afternoon. The plus side is that by avoiding caffeine in the first place, you’ll get better sleep and thus not have to rely on a cup of coffee to make you feel alive and ready to face the day.
Be wary of other things you consume before bed, too. Eating too much might make you feel bloated and uncomfortable as you try to fall asleep, and eating too little will leave you hungry. Drinking too much right before could result in disruptive trips to the bathroom as well. Even alcohol, which may initially make you feel sleepy, could end up disturbing your sleep.
Get A Workout In
Exercising every day can result in all sorts of positive health benefits, but outside of the ordinary, getting a workout in can actually help you sleep better. Success Magazine says that exercise can improve the quality of your sleep and may, in some cases, even help to beat insomnia. According to the article, a study at Northwestern University’s Department of Neurobiology and Physiology found that people who got aerobic exercise four times a week were able to improve the quality of their sleep. They were less tired during the day, reported having less depressive symptoms and had more vitality.
Just make sure you’re not getting that exercise right before bedtime. Engaging in serious, strenuous activity within two or three hours of your scheduled bedtime can raise the temperature of your body, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
Turn Off Your Screens
You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s so important that it bears repeating: turn your electronics off before you get ready for bed. It’s difficult for sure, in this constantly-connected age, to distance yourself from your phone, your computer, your television before you go to bed, but it’s pertinent to getting the best quality sleep you can.
According to the Sleep Foundation, studies have found that the light emitted from even small electronic devices is sufficient to trigger the photoreceptors in our retinas and miscue the brain into thinking it’s light outside. This promotes wakefulness, throwing off our natural circadian rhythms. This is a problem in adults, but children are even more susceptible to its effects.
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