The importance of a good night’s sleep should not be underestimated, but unfortunately, many of us tend to do just that. Whether intentional or not, poor sleep contributes to many negative effects on your body and mind, so it is imperative for you to make some immediate changes to your daily routine if you need better rest. Lucky for you, these 5 tips and tricks we have for restful sleep are relatively easy to adopt, so you might want to pay attention.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
Before we get there, you first need to understand what happens to you when you don’t have enough restful sleep. When you are sleep deprived, you will notice the obvious signs — constant yawning, feeling sleepy throughout the day, and sometimes feeling easily irritable. Your face will start showing wrinkles and dark eye circles, and beneath the surface, there is even more going on.
Over time, sleep deprivation can cause problems within us that we can’t see. These include high blood pressure and risk of stroke, an increased risk of developing chronic diseases — diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, to name a few — and may even lead to obesity through weight gain. Mental wellness can be negatively affected as well, with feelings of depression and impulsive mood swings.
By now, hopefully, it’s clear enough for you to see — good sleep is important and essential to our overall well-being. So what are some ways we can help ourselves get better sleep?
Expose Yourself To Sunlight
Our bodies have a naturally inbuilt clock, known as the circadian rhythm. It basically runs in the background of our brains and automatically cycles between two states at regular intervals — these states being alertness and sleepiness. Exposing yourself to natural sunlight or bright light in the daytime keeps your circadian rhythm healthy, which in turn can improve your energy levels in the day, as well as the duration and quality of your sleep at night. With exposure to sunlight in the day, your circadian rhythm will naturally switch to alertness priorities, and also automatically dial down to sleepiness mode at night, which leads to you getting better sleep.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure Before Bed
During the day, natural sources of blue light found in your environment can boost your alertness, increase reaction times, and generally makes you feel more awake — which, as mentioned above, is how your circadian rhythm tunes itself. Which is why blue light at night is a bad idea because your body needs to wind down and relax so you can fall asleep. However, when we use our smartphones, computers, and TVs at night before bed, we are exposing our eyes to artificial blue light which can prevent our body from slowing down and feel tired. Not only will it disrupt our sleep, but prolonged exposure to blue light can damage our eyes and contribute to gradual vision loss — so put down your phone and turn off the TV at least 30 minutes before bedtime so your body can adjust.
Stay Away From Caffeine And Alcohol
Ah, caffeine. Some of us need it every morning in the form of coffee, and it’s not hard to see why. Caffeine can enhance our focus and boost our energy levels throughout the day — which is why you really should avoid it at night. Caffeine is a stimulant for our nervous system and therefore can prevent our bodies from relaxing, especially at night. Studies have shown that caffeine consumption up to six hours before bedtime can decrease sleep quality by a significant amount. Basically, don’t drink coffee or caffeinated beverages at least six hours before bed if you need restful sleep, but if you really need your coffee fix, try decaffeinated coffee.
Optimize Your Sleeping Environment
This is quite straightforward. To get good sleep, you need to feel comfortable, so it’s essential to set up your bedroom or sleeping environment to be as sleep-inducing as possible. Some basic factors are noise, lights, and temperature. External noise — most likely from the traffic outside — and bright lights can cause poor sleep, so try to minimize these if possible. The ideal ambient temperature where you’re falling asleep should be cool — from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius. Finally, you should ensure your mattress is comfortable and has good support for your back. Similarly, having comfortable pillows can help — not just fluffy ones, but ones free of allergens that can affect you.
Relax In The Evening
If you have one already, it may be wise to adopt a pre-sleep routine that can help you to relax. Relaxing your body and mind are key to a good night’s sleep, and some techniques that help people sleep are listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditation and deep breathing, or even getting a good massage. Find something that works for you, and soon enough you’ll have no issues drifting off to bed every night.