To achieve maximum health, you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
Sleep deprivation increases your predisposition to obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. In addition, it leads to cognitive impairment and memory loss. This is because the brain needs a copious amount of sleep to work well. Insomnia also ages your skin prematurely and kills your sex drive…speaking of driving, it is also a prime contributor to accidents on the road.
When you are tired all the time, you become irritable. Getting a good night’s sleep leads to increased productivity and saves you time, money, and energy in the long run. It improves the quality of life by helping you feel better and happier.
Here are 7 tips to improve the quality of your sleep
- Shut down electronics
Most electronics release blue light, which disturbs our photoreceptors, causing our brain to think it is daytime! This way, it postpones the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle.
Allow quiet time before bedtime by shutting down all electronics at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Instead, read an inspiring self-help book, take a bath, meditate or do some light stretches.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol is a sedative that can produce drowsiness and sleepiness. Consuming alcohol before sleep disrupts the quality of your rest because it reduces the amount of melatonin the body produces. Also, as it starts metabolizing, the sedative effect wears off, preventing you from getting into the important sleep of rapid eye movement, aka REM. Instead, you’ll be likely to wake up easily and more often throughout the night.
The body absorbs caffeine and sends it to the bloodstream quickly. It reaches your brain and begins to block the effect of adenosine, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for unwinding your brain and making you tired. It stimulates stress hormones and forces you to stay awake. Sleep experts suggest avoiding caffeinated drinks 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Instead, consume relaxing herbal teas.
Here are a few choices
- Chamomile tea
- Valerian tea
- “Sleepytime” by Celestial Seasoning Herb Teas
- “Well Rested” by Trader Joe
- Keep it dark
Sleep and wake patterns are directly connected to light and dark. Nature intended for us to wake up with the sun and go to bed at sundown. When the sun rises, it causes our body’s melatonin level to drop and increases wakefulness. Darkness causes our melatonin levels to rise and induces sleep.
The slightest ray of light, whether natural or artificial, interrupts the secretion of this critical hormone. Melatonin deficiency causes fatigue, irritability, anxiety, hormonal imbalances, and poor concentration.
Protect your eyes with an eye mask or a dark soft cloth to help block out artificial light. This way, your internal clock will realign with the sun’s rising and setting.
- Invest in comfortable bedding
Choose textiles such as cotton, wool, silk, bamboo, and linen that absorb excess moisture and keep you more comfortable. Avoid polyesters and synthetic satins that trap moisture and make you hot and sweaty. Bedding fabrics should make you feel cozy. If you reside in a location with seasonal weather, choose seasonally appropriate bedding.
Duvets or comforters paired with your sheet sets offer extra cozy comfort and warmth.
Use allergen-proof mattresses and pillow covers to reduce allergies.
Invest in a comfortable mattress, neither too hard nor too soft.
- Limit stress
Avoid emotional conversations and resolve concerns before bedtime. If something is weighing on you, try writing in a journal to free your mind from obsessing all night long.
Get organized, set priorities, and delegate tasks. Plan for tomorrow at the closing of your workday. There is no need to stay up all night thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list.
Be silent. Silence encourages the growth of new neurons and creates a positive state of relaxation for physical and mental health. The Buddhist and Taoist philosophy inspires us to connect with our inner being through the stillness of the mind. Nevertheless, silence can be frightful. Socio-economic pressures program us to work harder and sleep less to be more productive and make more money.
When you enter the “silence zone,” you realize that it is a source of relaxation.
- Nibble on a healthy snack.
Contrary to popular belief, eating at night does not cause weight gain; it is quite the opposite; it helps you sleep better and keeps your metabolism burning fat.
Here are some healthy nighttime snack ideas
- Greek yogurt with honey and sliced banana
- Cottage cheese
- Peanut butter
- Warm oatmeal
- Low-carb protein shake
One of the most efficient cures for insomnia is exercise. When you are more active during the day, it’s much easier for your body to know when to shut down at night. Working out also reduces stress and anxiety; in addition, a study published in Sports Medicine shows that a low-intensity workout can help you fall asleep more rapidly and sleep longer.
Warning: The study also shows that those who performed high-intensity exercise less than one hour before going to bed took more time falling asleep and had poorer sleep quality.
Even if you suffer from insomnia, a solution to a deeper sleep is to do strength training a minimum of 3 days a week.
A recent study in Preventive Medicine reports that strength training can help improve sleep quality because, compared to lighter exercises, it creates a more significant surge of adenosine, which causes drowsiness.
Strength training with weights or machines using a 5-repetition system taxes your nervous system and forces your body to work at its maximum effort. When you lie down to sleep at night, rest on your back, and put a cushion under your thighs to take pressure off your lower back. In this comfortable position, the body will have no choice but to fall into a deep sleep and have a chance to let go from strength training earlier.
Consider incorporating muscle-strengthening exercises as a weekly habit in your life as a sure-fire way to a good night’s sleep.
Sunset evokes thanks. Dawn gives rise to hope.
The darkness of long restful nights stirs faith.