Everyone enjoys a good night’s sleep, especially at the end of a long day. It’s just what you need to recharge and get yourself ready to face another day. However, for many people, sleep can be elusive. Still being awake at 2 o’clock in the morning is a familiar feeling for a depressingly large number of people these days.
However, the good news is that you have more control over your sleep quality than you think. Some unhealthy habits in your waking life can have some unpleasant effects on your ability to sleep, but there are some adjustments you can make to help make sleep easier to find. Try these simple tips to help you have better sleep every night, and vastly improved health with it.
1. Control your exposure to light during the day
Your circadian rhythms are your body’s natural time-keeping method for regulating your sleep cycle. Understanding the circadian rhythms is an integral part of mastering how to sleep better. Your body needs plenty of natural light during the day to help it wake up and conversely needs less light at bedtime to help you sleep.
During the day, get some sun to help reset your body’s natural clock to better match the time of day. Take your breaks outside or keep your blinds open to give yourself more sunlight as the day goes on. On the other hand, once it’s time to hit the hay, reduce the amount of light around you to get your body ready to go to sleep. One thing that helps is reducing the amount of time spent on gadgets a few hours before bedtime to reduce the amount of blue light you’re normally exposed to.
2. Redesign your bedroom for better sleeping
Optimizing your bedroom is a major factor in ensuring you get a good night’s sleep. Make some changes to your sleeping space to make it more conducive to relaxing and falling asleep. Ideally, a cool, dark, and quiet environment helps promote easier relaxation at bedtime.
Eliminate external light and noise to remove any light sources that could distract you from falling asleep. Another thing you can do is keep your room cool and adequately ventilated. Most people sleep most comfortably at a temperature of roughly 18° Celsius. Remember to check your mattress regularly to ensure it’s conducive to a good night’s sleep and the health of your spine.
One last thing that can help your mind get used to better sleep is limiting your bedroom use to sleeping. Refrain from using the room for other activities (e.g. watching TV, using your phone, or working) to associate the bedroom with sleeping.
3. Avoid caffeine late in the day
As a stimulant, coffee is a great drink for helping you stay awake when you need to be productive. However, too much coffee can actively interfere with your ability to sleep at night. Coffee can stay in your system for hours, which means it can have an impact on restful sleep.
Refrain from drinking any caffeinated products (e.g. coffee, tea, or soda) to make it easier to fall asleep when you need to. While you’re at it, stay away from other foods and habits that could make it harder to get some sleep. A nightcap may make you feel sleepy and help you relax, but alcohol is another stimulant that could disrupt your sleep. Avoid spicy and acidic foods before bedtime as well; these foods can give you heartburn that can distract from falling asleep.
4. Refrain from napping
Some people like to take some power naps through the day to help save some energy and recharge. However, if you find it difficult to get to sleep come bedtime, it’s usually a good idea to eliminate the catnaps from your daily routine. These naps can sometimes confuse the body’s internal clock, making it harder to fall asleep at the right time.
If you do need to take some naps to make it through the daily grind, keep them short (ideally 30 minutes or less) to avoid harming your sleep quality. Another good rule of thumb is to avoid napping after 5 PM to avoid cutting into your sleep time a few hours later.
5. Get plenty of exercise
Vigorous exercise is a great health boost in many ways, including improving your sleep quality. Regular exercise stimulates the body to produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone. As a rule, the more vigorous the exercise, the better the benefits come bedtime. However, even light exercise (e.g. 10 minutes of walking) can provide a great boost toward sleep quality.
Sneaking some exercise into your daily routine is a simple trick that can pay huge dividends once you make a habit of it. Remember to time your workouts properly to avoid giving yourself too much stimulation before bedtime.
6. Manage your worries
One common obstacle to achieving a good night’s sleep is worrying over your day-to-day problems. Your biggest worries can often keep you up at night, so postpone worrying about them until the next day.
Write your troubles down on a piece of paper to get them out of your head. When you wake up, you can find the paper and deal with the problems when you’re refreshed. On the other hand, if it’s a good idea keeping you up, do the same thing and make a note to deal with it tomorrow in the knowledge that you’ll be more productive the next day.
7. Avoid staring at the clock
When you’re trying desperately to go to sleep, refrain from sneaking too many looks at the clock. Reminding yourself of how much time you have to sleep actually increases stress, ultimately making it harder to fall asleep. To avoid any temptation, turn your clock’s face away so you can resist the urge to take a look.
8. Establish a pre-sleep routine
One way of sleeping better that can help you relax and start winding down for the night is having some relaxing pre-sleep rituals. It’s a routine that works well on children. Tucking your kids into bed and reading them a bedtime story can be an effective approach to helping them wind down for the night. It works just as well for grown-ups.
Having a ritual helps signal your mind and body that it’s time to sleep. Think of it as a way to separate yourself from the day’s anxieties and worries to help get yourself in the mindset to sleep. Some common rituals people use to wind down include listening to music, taking a hot bath, drinking warm milk, or meditating. These methods are also effective answers to a host of other problems including headaches and migraines, anxiety, and depression.
Experiment with different activities to find what works for you.
9. Find ways to help get back to sleep
After going to sleep, it’s vital you be able to keep it up until it’s actually time to wake up in the morning. It’s normal to wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, but in case of trouble falling back asleep, there are some things you can do to help ease yourself into dreamland.
Try pre-sleep relaxation techniques like meditation or progressive muscle relaxation. You can do many of these techniques in bed, so you can use them to gradually make yourself drowsy. Focus on relaxing rather than sleep to avoid stressing yourself out. As you relax, your body can take care of the rest. If it’s taking a while to go back to sleep, try a quiet, non-stimulating activity (like reading a book) to get yourself sleepy.
Keep the lights dim and avoid any screens to keep the body from thinking it’s time to wake up.
At Fairway Chiropractic, we provide high-quality care to help with a variety of problems. Need a helping hand with chronic back pain or insomnia? Our compassionate team is here to help. Reach out to us at (519) 748-5535 to make an appointment.