Did you feel very well rested this morning? Many people struggle to get enough restful sleep each night. But there are things you can do to help improve your sleep quality. Sleep is just as important as exercising and eating healthily. Poor sleep has immediate negative impacts on your hormone levels, exercise performance, and your brain functions. It can also lead to weight gain and increased disease risk for adults and children. In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier.
Get More Sun!
Your body has a naturally occurring internal clock called your circadian rhythm. It helps your brain, body, hormones, and metabolism by keeping you alert and letting your body know when it’s time for bed. Natural sunlight or bright lights during the day help maintain your circadian rhythm. It helps improve daytime energy levels and nighttime restfulness and duration. People who have insomnia may benefit from exposing themselves to daylight during the day. It also reduces the length of time it takes for you to fall asleep. Another study showed that people exposed to bright light for two hours during the day increased their total sleep time by two hours and improved sleep efficiency.
Avoid Blue Light at Night
Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect. It tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and therefore impacts your circadian rhythm. Blue light exposure reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep. Electronics like smartphones and computers emit blue light at high levels, which makes them the worst offenders when it comes to this. Several popular methods you can use to reduce nighttime blue light exposure include:
- Utilising the night shift function to change the colour of the light on your devices
- Wearing blue light-blocking glasses
- Use dimmers on your lights to decrease the amount of light
- Stop using all electronics 2hrs before bed
Skip that Afternoon Coffee
Caffeine has multiple health benefits and is widely consumed by the general public. A single dose of caffeine can improve focus, energy, and athletic performance. However, drinking coffee after midday might stimulate your nervous system and prevent your body from naturally relaxing during the evening hours. In one study, consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed worsened sleep quality with subjects’ level of sleep disturbances being significantly higher than the placebo group. Caffeine stays elevated in your bloodstream for up to 8 hours after drinking coffee. Therefore, drinking large quantities of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is probably not advisable for most people, especially if you’re caffeine-sensitive or have trouble falling asleep at night.
Keep to a sleep schedule.
Your body’s circadian rhythm cycles through a set pattern, aligning with the sun’s rise and fall. Consistency in sleeping and waking times can help improve your overall sleep quality. A study found that people who slept irregularly and went to bed late at night experienced poorer sleep than others. Other studies have shown that irregular sleeping patterns can affect your body’s natural cycle of producing melatonin, which signals your brain to fall asleep. If you struggle with sleeping, try to get into the habit of waking up at roughly the same time every day. After several weeks, maybe you won’t even need an alarm clock!
Everyone needs enough sleep, and the correct kind of sleep, to be both happy and healthy. Many sleeping problems stem from poor sleep habits that have been ingrained for years or even decades. Over time, not sleeping enough can affect both your mental and physical health. It may take some time before you see an improvement in your sleep quality after making any changes. However, if good sleep habits are kept up, then sleep will improve in the long run.