We all know a quality sleep is what helps us power through the day. However, sometimes getting a restful sleep is not as easy as it sounds. A healthy sleep cycle results from a constant inflection of highs and lows within the sleep cycle due to various hormones. Heart rate, body temperature, and cortisol - the stress hormone - are at their lowest during the second half of our sleep time, hence why it is necessary to ensure a comfortable as well as deep sleep. Healthy sleep habits can dramatically improve the quality of a person’s life. Therefore it is essential to practice good ‘sleep hygiene,’ as the experts call it, and maintain a healthy bedtime routine to ensure the best slumber possible.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
A good nights sleep is crucial for the production of growth and testosterone hormones that produce more strength, muscle, and vitality. It also helps an individual stay fit and maintain a healthy body weight, as it aids in the maintenance of insulin. A quality night’s sleep also decreases the chance of catching a cold, increases resilience to stress, and improves memory and performance. As the day dwindles down and evening arrives, the body begins to naturally produce the hormone known as melatonin, which helps trigger the body’s natural sleep cycle. Melatonin is produced due to the absence of sunlight, hence why individuals tend to feel more tired after the sun sets.
Researchers have suggested the best way to help regulate a natural sleep cycle and prepare for a restful and fulfilling sleep at night is to avoid short naps and to exercise daily. Daily exercise - whether it be vigorous or light activity - helps stimulate the brain during the day and helps to reduce the amount of energy an individual may experience at night. Stretching before bed can also help to eliminate stress and get the blood flowing throughout the body.
Avoid taking short naps if possible as well, especially if you struggle with sleeping at night. Power naps might help you feel less tired during the day but will not help you when winding down and preparing to sleep at night due to the surge in energy gained from the nap.
Adjust The Thermostat
For most, the ideal room temperature for a good night sleep is approximately between sixty and sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit - as the body’s internal temperature decreases to initiate sleep. Keeping the bedroom at a set temperature, preferably colder rather than warmer, will make it much easier for a person to close their eyes for the night. Too warm or too cold temperatures can lead to restlessness and can affect the quality of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep - the stage in which the brain is most active and dreaming takes place. After adjusting the thermostat to the ideal temperature, the next step is to eliminate noise and distractions within the bedroom.
Eliminate Any Noise And Light
The key to a quality sleep is to eliminate any distracting noise in or around the bedroom. Exposure to traffic noises, noises from your partner (such as snoring) or from any smart devices can greatly impact and decrease overall sleep quality. To try blocking the noise while sleeping, consider earplugs, ‘white noise’ machines, fans or anything else able to ensure peace and tranquility within the bedroom. Try reducing the amount of light in the room and ensure no light will disrupt slumber as well with blackout curtains or an eye mask. Light waves exist along a spectrum of color; a blue light triggers wakefulness, whereas a warm, red glow may allow an individual to fall asleep faster and for longer periods of time.
The radiation emitted from mobile phones as well as the blue light from the screen can increase the time needed to reach REM sleep cycles and can decrease the amount of time spent in these cycles. Unplug gadgets and remove them from the bedroom, or turn them completely off when going to bed. Not only will the light emitted from the screen cause a distraction, but it will also tempt the person trying to sleep to use their devices and remain awake, while also decreasing their chances of a deep sleep. Setting up a healthy sleep schedule and trying to eliminate distraction from gadgets, noise, and light can greatly improve the chances for a fulfilling snooze.
Set A Sleep Schedule
An essential part of a quality sleep is to establish appropriate bed and wake-up times, depending on how many hours of rest is needed. This step takes discipline and motivation to regulate the body’s internal clock and to establish an effective pattern as the individual will need to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, including on weekends. Instead of sleeping in after staying up late, plan on going to bed a bit earlier the next night to start establishing a consistent sleep pattern. A habitual sleep schedule followed nightly can increase an individual’s chances of falling asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Establish A Bedtime Routine
Mentally and physically prepare oneself an hour every night before bed to ensure the chosen sleep routine sticks. Try a few different things to help reduce stress and create the ideal mood for sleeping. Examples include taking a warm bath or shower, preparing food and clothing for the next morning, listening to soft, ambient music, or reading. Researchers suggest reading for fifteen minutes before bed to de-stress and quiet mental chatter, as well as reading something you normally wouldn’t pick off of a shelf. It may take two weeks for a bedtime routine to become habitual, but once established, the individual will be on the right track to a restful sleep every night of the week.
Have A Quality Mattress And Pillows
Besides having a great mattress and soft pillows for one’s own comfort and support, it is one of the leading factors in achieving a quality and deep sleep. A comfortable mattress without lumps and that does not cause pain in any way is one of the best investments a person can make. A price tag does not equal quality sleep. Therefore it does not have to be outrageously expensive either, as more affordable mattresses can provide a sound sleep as well. Make the bedroom a space meant for relaxation, one also free from allergens, distractions, and anything else that could hinder sleep. A quality sleep is the first and best step to ensuring good health and a positive mindset!