Sleep seems to be one of the things that we always crave for and never get enough of.
There is a certain sense of joy in waking up in the morning feeling well-rested that only a good night sleep can give. For adults, it is recommended to have between 7 - 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. There are many benefits a restful sleep can offer. Physically, your body works to repair your muscles, organs and cells. Mentally, it improves your memory and enables you to think clearly. Emotionally, getting enough sleep makes you less moody and more cheerful.
On the contrary, not developing healthy sleeping habits can result in negative consequences.
You are more susceptible to feelings of irritability, stress, sadness, and anxiousness. You’ll find yourself struggling to concentrate or think clearly, which will affect your judgment and decision-making ability.
However, as much as we know that sleeping is important, I believe most of us have experienced frustrating sleepless night before. Struggling to sleep might be one of the hints your body is telling you to make changes to your daily habits. On that note, we would like to give you some simple but effective tips on how to get better sleep.
1) Stay away from caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
One of the most common reasons why people can’t sleep at night is because they’ve consumed too much caffeine throughout the day. Food and drinks that are rich in caffeine such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate keeps you awake if you consume them close to bedtime. It is better if you drink or eat food and beverages that are high in caffeine content earlier in the day.
Alcohol is another culprit for sleeplessness. Many people think that drinking alcohol can make you sleep better but its effect is quite the contrary. Alcohol can disrupt your natural sleeping pattern and causes breathing problems in some people. Therefore, even if you feel like you can sleep easily after a few round of booze, well, it won’t be as restful as it should be.
2) Avoid going to bed too full or too hungry
Aside from taking note of the food that we eat, we should also take note of how much food we actually eat. Food is one of the main contributors in determining our health and unsurprisingly, it also affects our sleep!
Avoid heavy meals 2 hours before bedtime as it might keep you awake. Be conscious not only of eating the right kind of food but at the right time in the right amount as well.
3) Follow a regular sleep schedule
Consistency is the key to habit building. That is why if you want to sleep better, sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. This practice will condition your body to follow a regular pattern.
4) Exercise during the day
Include in your daily routine a time to exercise. Keeping your body active (bonus points if you get enough sunlight during the day too) makes your body stronger and keeps you from feeling sluggish throughout the day.
However, do not exercise within 4 hours before bedtime. Exercising gives you an energy boost so the ideal time to exercise is early in the morning. We recommend to give yourself at least 30 - 60 minutes a day, three times a week to promote better sleep.
5) Keep your bedroom comfortable and only use it for sleeping
The bedroom is your sanctuary. It's where you rest and recharge after a long day. Keep your bedroom as a place where you can fully relax, away from work and the stresses that plague your mind.
One of the things you can do to create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom is by keeping the lights low and soft as it will signal to your brain to get ready to sleep. Avoid playing loud sounds or bringing your work into the bedroom.
6) Get good mattress and bedsheet
On top of making your bedroom comfortable, a comfortable bedsheet and a good mattress can vastly improve the quality of your sleep
You do not want to save on cheap mattress and bedsheets as they can be very disruptive to your sleep. Buying quality products may incur more upfront cost but cheap mattress and sheets will turn out to be the most expensive in the long run because they will wreck your sleep and lifestyle.
7) Limit your screen time on the bedroom before sleeping
We’re all guilty of this, reaching out for our phones or tablets as a way to entertain ourselves before sleeping. Constantly doing this impedes our ability to sleep easily. The blue light from television and mobile devices messes with our body's ability to prepare for sleep because it blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes us sleepy.
8) Avoid napping or sleeping late in the afternoon or evening
Napping is not necessarily bad but it can interfere with your sleep and keeps you awake at night. If your day time routine includes napping and you are finding it hard to sleep at night, consider cutting back on those naps.
Yet, if you are feeling really tired and need a shuteye, keep your naps short. A 20 - 30 minutes power nap can give you an energy boost while minimizing disruptions to your sleep patterns.
To wrap it up...
If you still find yourself having a hard time sleeping, then hey, it's okay to try again tomorrow.
Improving your sleep will not happen overnight. It is a result of conscious and consistent decision to make small changes in your behaviour. Remember that the goal here is to work on behaviour that improves sleep and reduce habits that interfere with sleep.