The quality of sleep has a direct impact on short, medium, and long-term quality of life. Sleep is a critical process for the body and mind’s rest. Persons who grapple with sleep problems usually have a hard time achieving optimal productivity. More serious are the long-term health effects.
Sleep difficulties predispose you to medical conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, obesity, low immunity, and low sex drive. Quality sleep is not something you should leave up to chance. You have to strive for it. Getting the right mattress is important. For instance, check out this review of side sleeper mattresses on BHG.com.
Nevertheless, over and above the bed and mattress, certain habits determine how well you sleep each night.
1. Consult a Doctor
This is where it should all begin. And it’s not just about a one-off appointment. Persistent sleep problems should be accompanied by regular doctor’s visits. The cause of sleeplessness could be narcolepsy, sleep apnea, insomnia, bruxism, or night terrors. A doctor will help you get to the root of the problem quickly.
2. Minimize Screen Time at Night
Your body follows a natural circadian rhythm. Depending on whether it’s daylight or nighttime, certain processes kick in automatically. Devices such as computers and smartphones that emit blue light can throw off this rhythm. The light tricks your brain into imagining it’s night time when it isn’t. This inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Stay away from your devices at least two hours before your intended sleep time.
3. Maximize Bright Light During Daytime
In the same way exposure to blue light at night can impair your sleep, not having adequate bright light during the day can have a similar effect. Bright light and natural sunlight help you stay awake and alert during the day. That way, your internal clock will more easily switch to sleep mode at night.
4. Avoid Caffeine Drinks Before Bed
A cup of coffee in the morning is a great way to get your day off to a nice start. At night, however, caffeine beverages could leave you sleepless. Caffeine lingers in the body for as much as 8 hours. So if you have to take coffee, do so no later than 2 PM.
5. Avoid Alcohol
You’ve probably heard the widely held myth that a glass of beer or wine can help you sleep better. Whereas alcohol could get you sleeping faster, it won’t necessarily be the good quality sleep your body needs. Alcohol makes it harder for the body to phase into the deepest sleep phase.
6. Avoid Daytime Naps
A brief 15-minute daytime nap shouldn’t do you harm. It can be quite refreshing and may get your creative juices flowing. But anything longer than 15 minutes could throw your circadian rhythm off balance. If you can avoid daytime naps in their entirety, the better. You’d rather go to bed earlier than usual.
7. Sleep at the Same Time Each Day
It won’t always be possible but you should strive to sleep at roughly the same time every day. That includes weekends. A predictable sleep pattern firms up your circadian rhythm. Your brain will automatically know it’s time to go to bed whenever that time arrives.
8. Establish a Pre-Sleep Routine
The brain loves habit. A pre-sleep routine tells it that you are preparing to sleep and triggers the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. The pre-sleep routine should involve relaxing activities such as washing your face, taking a warm shower, or brushing your teeth.
Sleep is the body’s resting process. It’s the reason why the more physically active you are during the day, the deeper your sleep is likely to be. Exercise helps you release pent up energy, reduces stress, calms the mind, makes you feel tired, and improves sleep quality.
10. Take an Oral Supplement
Melatonin is the hormone that induces the feeling of tiredness that’s a prerequisite for quality sleep. If everything else fails to work, your doctor may recommend a melatonin supplement.
Better Sleep for a Better Life
Sleep deprivation robs you of rest, productivity, and happiness. Apply these 10 habits to ensure your sleep is of the high quality your body needs.