Sleep is perhaps one of the most vital aspects of an individual's health. Good sleep quality helps the body fight off infection, re-energize for the next day, and reduces an individual's risk of developing countless health conditions. Unfortunately, it can often be tough to get a good night's sleep. The mind races from one thought to another. The body is restless, tossing and turning. It might seem like a form of torture, but what many don't realize is some of their daily habits contribute to their inability to get a full night of sleep.
Bedtime Snacks Keep You Up
While it's nice to have a small treat in the evening from time to time, having them on a regular basis is not beneficial and can contribute to sleep problems. This is especially true when individuals consume sweets or caffeinated drinks within a two-hour window before bed. These products can make it hard for individuals to fall asleep and to stay asleep. It's best to avoid snacking before bed. However, if an individual must have a drink within this two-hour window, they should always stay clear of sweet and caffeinated drinks. instead, they should try an herbal tea like fennel or chamomile to help relax and calm their mind and body.
Naps Do You No Good
While some believe napping partway through the day is a good thing to do, researchers have discovered regular napping during the day can actually increase an individual's the risk of health conditions like heart disease. Additionally, napping has been shown to increase an individual's likelihood of waking up during the night, since they may not feel as tired. It's far better to work through the day and to feel really tired come bedtime. If it's hard to concentrate midway through the afternoon, take a short break and get a big drink of water. Often, mid-day fatigue is due to dehydration. By staying awake until bedtime, individuals will likely get a better nights'; sleep, and wake refreshed in the morning.
Get Up, Get Moving
At the end of a long day at work, it can be really tempting to just go home and binge-watch something on television. But, if sound sleep is elusive, it's probably better for individuals to get active rather than spending the night watching the news or the latest episode of their favorite television show. It's important to get active, and doing so can be really beneficial on a number of fronts. Exercising for as little as thirty minutes five days a week can not only be a good way to get fit and feel better, it can also help channel aggression and anger when there's workplace stress.
Bye, Bye Blue Screen
As a society, we have come to depend on our cell phones and tablets a lot. Some individuals can't go to the bathroom without them and some carry their cell phones from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. It's part of the 24/7 connection culture we've bought into. But the blue screen light from the digital equipment can actually affect sleep patterns negatively. Researchers have found individuals who use their digital equipment just before bed have far more sleep pattern problems. Their recommendation is to stop looking at screens at least a half hour before bed and to actually put devices aside far from the bedside to avoid temptation. When electronic use is unavoidable, experts recommend changing the light and filtering settings to a red tone rather than blue to help mitigate the negative effects.
Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold
Sometimes the reason it's too hard for individuals to fall asleep or stay asleep is they are actually too warm or too cold. It turns out there really is an optimum sleep temperature: the air in the bedroom should be about sixty-three degrees Fahrenheit, (seventeen degrees Celsius). This temperature prevents the sleeper from overheating in summer and also prevents the temperatures from dipping too low in winter. It's easy to throw on more blankets if necessary. Turn the thermostat down, get under the blankets, and get some quality shut-eye.
Ditch Alcoholic Drinks After Dinner
After dinner drinks with friends may be fine some of the time, but when sleep is an issue, it shouldn't be a habit. Just like with sweet drinks and caffeinated drinks, consuming alcoholic drinks close to bedtime can be related to problematic sleep patterns. This is especially true for individuals who enjoy sweet mixed drinks, as the sugar in the drink can act as a stimulant, while the alcohol can act as a depressant. This makes it hard for the body to understand what it should be doing. As much as possible, individuals should avoid drinking alcohol within two to four hours from their planned bedtime.
Listen To Your Body
There is no point in individuals trying to crawl into bed to get some sleep when they're wired or hyped up. Coming back home from a concert or show, it's going to take some time for the body to reset and wind down. Even on a day-to-day basis, individuals should wait until they feel tired to begin sleep time routines. While the routines can help act as cues for the body that it's time to relax, individuals should not count on the routine alone to trigger the body's sleep pattern. They should listen to what their body is saying and they'll find Slumberland that much faster.
Stop Clock Watching
If it's going to be a sleepless night, individuals should stop torturing themselves by watching the minutes on the clock switch over. This practice is not beneficial. In fact, it can actually cause even more stress for the individual who needs sleep. If the clock's light is keeping you awake, put a sheet or blanket over it. Alternatively, turn the clock to face the wall, so its light doesn't face the bed. While making changes like this, consider getting blackout curtains or blinds to make the bedroom as dark as possible. Some individuals can't sleep if there is even a little light coming in.
Ditch Uncomfortable Mattresses And Pillows
When an individual is trying to get a good night's sleep, the first thing they're going to want to do is to ditch uncomfortable mattresses and pillows. According to Dr. Michael Decker, a professor associated with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, "when you lie on any part of your body for an extended period of time, the weight of it reduces the flow of blood through those blood vessels, which deprives the skin of oxygen and nutrients." When an individual's blood flow is interrupted, it sends signals to their brain that it is time to roll over, causing them to toss and turn and reducing their sleep quality. Those who find themselves moving around a lot at night may want to get a new mattress that does not put so much pressure on their blood vessels. The appropriate pillow for an individual's sleep position is also crucial to avoid pains that can keep them awake at night.
Avoid Lots Of Liquids Before Bed
Those looking for a good night's sleep are also going to want to avoid lots of liquids before bed. Now, to be clear, drinking water is generally good, as it is important to stay hydrated. However, drinking too much of any fluid right before bed might be keeping the individual from getting a good night's rest. This is because drinking fluids can cause nocturia, or the need to urinate in the middle of the night. Waking up in the middle of the night to urinate can disturb an individual's rest and lead to an irregular sleep schedule, which is why they should absolutely limit the consumption of liquids before bedtime.
Don't Work In Bed
This one cannot be stressed enough: Don't work in bed! If there is anything causing an individual to have an irregular sleep schedule, it is probably this. The body's circadian rhythm works by understanding patterns. One of those patterns is light, which is required for most kinds of work. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, the presence of blue light inhibits the production of melatonin, one of the key chemicals in the body that tells it when it is time to sleep. In addition, if individuals work in the same place they sleep, it can cause debilitating stress, as unresolved tension and worry bubble to the forefront of their mind. All in all, while many do it, it is probably not a good idea to work from bed.
Don't Eat A Large Meal
One last thing: Don't eat a large meal before bed. Studies indicate eating later in the day can lead to a delayed DLMO, or dim-light melatonin onset. This means the body is producing melatonin later in the night and preventing the individual from sleeping. In addition, foods like citrus fruits, garlic, onions, and more are known to be associated with heartburn and acid reflux, which can also make it difficult to sleep. Experts agree it is probably best to avoid these foods close to bedtime. How much time should there be, then, before dinnertime and bedtime? According to neurologist and sleep medicine specialist Brandon Peters, it is probably best to wait around two to three hours. This gives the body time to digest the meal and settle down for the night.