Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for every human being’s physical and mental wellbeing as sleep deprivation can negatively affect your health and quality of life. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day to stay healthy, while children and babies usually need more sleep for their growth and development.
Data from the National Sleep Foundation shows that nearly 62% of American adults experience sleeping issues a few nights each week. It’s also proven that chronic poor sleepers may be at higher risk of developing heart diseases.
While paying attention to your sleeping pattern can help solve your sleeping problems, making changes in your habits or routine to improve sleep can turn your life around for the better. If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, whether it’s caused by sleep apnea, stress or a chronic condition, the following can help you get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.
- Set a sleep schedule.
Make it a habit to go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time daily. Sticking to a sleep routine wires your body and your brain to obey your body clock. Soon, you’ll find yourself getting sleepy about the same time every night. But ultimately, you have to listen to your body. Don’t delay sleep when you are fatigued and exhausted.
- Limit caffeine intake, and avoid nicotine and alcohol.
Caffeine and nicotine tend to interfere with sleep. If you love your daily dose of coffee, try to switch to decaf or at least limit your caffeine intake throughout the day, especially at night. Some regular coffee drinkers or smokers may experience withdrawal symptoms at night, leading to a restless sleep. But keep going as the long-term benefits of this to your body will surely be worth it.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is a sedative. It slows down brain activity. It may help you sleep, but once its effect wears off, it could disturb the rhythm of your sleeping patterns. Waking up with a hangover is another drawback of going to sleep after drinking alcohol.
- Never go to bed hungry or full.
Nutritionists advise their patients to not go to bed on either an empty or full stomach. Going to sleep without eating anything can make you toss and turn on your bed because hunger pain will keep you mentally awake. Likewise, going to bed stuffed does not allow the food to be digested properly, and may lead to indigestion or even heartburn. It’s advisable to wait for 3 to 4 hours before sleeping after a heavy meal.
- Invest in your sleeping environment.
Your bed is your body’s sanctuary, and your room is a place where you can fully rest and recharge. If you have bedside windows, be sure to place blinds to cover them because exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Invest in a good mattress and good pillow to really achieve uninterrupted sleep.
Using good quality bed sheets can also make a difference. A 2018 article from Somnology MD says that at night, our body expends heat so it’s essential to choose beddings that don’t trap the heat. If you live by a noisy environment, using earplugs may do the trick to block the noise off.
- Have some pre-bed rituals.
Having some pre-bed routine can help you prepare for sleep. Doing relaxing activities such as reading, lighting scented candles, taking a warm bath or doing breathing exercises may also help you wind down for the day and fall asleep easier.
Just like training your body to make it a habit to sleep at the same time every night, having a pre-bed routine can help condition your body and mind that it’s time to go to bed. Try to do such activities before going to bed and see what works for you.
- Get off your gadgets.
At this time and age, using phones, laptops and tablets before going to bed has become a norm. However, exposure to blue light, or the light these gadgets emit, can actually keep you more awake and alert at night. Exposure to blue light also reduces the amount of time you spend in a rapid eye movement or REM. It’s best to put down gadgets 30 minutes before you snooze, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
If you are having constant sleep issues, please see a doctor or a sleep specialist to determine the cause. You may have a sleeping disorder like sleep apnea where breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping. In such cases, doctors would advise that you use a CPAP machine or continuous positive airway pressure machine, along with a CPAP machine cleaner, to allow you to breathe normally in your sleep and not interrupt your slumber.
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