8 DOs and Don’ts That Will Help You Sleep Better
Do you toss and turn trying to fall asleep every night? Do you wake up halfway through the night and struggle to fall back asleep afterward? Many people have issues falling asleep and often try quick and easy remedies like alcohol or sleeping aids. The simple fact is: There is no quick panacea for sleep problems. There are, however, some do’s and don’ts that will help alleviate some of the problem factors that affect most people’s’ ability to get quality sleep.
DO: Exercise During the Day
Regular exercise improves your health in many ways, including promoting better quality sleep. When you exercise, your body releases dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Exercise can also improve your mood and help fight off depression because of serotonin’s function as a mood regulator. So, improve your mental and physical health, as well as your sleep quality: get out there and get some exercise.
DON’T: Have a Nightcap
Alcohol does have a strong somnolent effect on the body and so it is a great sleeping aid, right? Wrong. While you fall asleep fast after drinking alcohol, your body burns through the sugar quickly and you soon wake up, tossing and turning the rest of the night. Plus, if you imbibe too much, you have to worry about the lingering hangover the next day. Who wants that? It is best just to avoid a nightcap and stick to water or chamomile tea before bed.
DO: Eat Right and Eat Earlier
Eating heavy meals too close to bed can tax your digestive system leading to poor sleep outcomes. At the same time, those sugary pre-bedtime treats will also create sleeping issues due to the quick burst of energy and the resulting crash soon thereafter. If you do need a late-night snack, cheese and crackers are the best bet because it is not too heavy nor full of sugar. Finally, strive to finish dinner at least an hour before your typical bedtime so your body has time to digest the food.
DON’T: Sleep-in on Your Days Off
I know, there is nothing better than getting that extra sleep on the weekends or holidays. This habit, however, seriously throws off your body’s circadian rhythm and makes it hard to keep a schedule. When your body gets used to the same cycle you will eventually be able to fall asleep around the same time every day and wake up without an alarm. By all means, feel free to enjoy those lazy days off. Just don’t use that free time for sleep.
DO: Dim the Lights
About 2 or 3 hours before you go to bed, you should try to minimize the amount of light in your house. Our bodies set the sleep-wake cycle by the amount of light it perceives. If your body senses too much light, it will adjust your circadian rhythm accordingly. Lower light levels send the signal that it is late and time to sleep, so keep it dark at night.
DON’T: Screen-Time in Bed
As mentioned in the above pointer, too much light will keep you awake. Holding a phone or tablet close to your face before bedtime will make your body think it is still daytime. Try to avoid screen-time use in bed as much as possible and you will definitely notice a difference in your ability to fall asleep.
DO: Make Your Room as Comfortable as Possible
There is nothing worse than uncomfortable sleep. You toss and turn all night and wake up sore the next day. In order to have the best sleep experience, you need to have a comfortable sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be cool and dark. Your bedclothes should be clean, soft, and breathable. Finally, your bed should be about midrange between firm and soft, leaning more towards the firm side. A comfortable room invites sleep naturally.
DON’T: Sleep with Noise
The smallest noise can affect the quality of your sleep. Even when you are in the deepest sleep stage, your brain still registers and processes sound. Noise also affects the body’s ability to shift from light sleep to deep sleep. So, despite your ability to “sleep through it all,” you are probably still getting restless sleep if your sleep environment is too noisy. If you live in an area where you cannot control outside noise, consider using a fan or white noise machine to shut out the unwanted racket.
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