How Do You Get A Good Night's Rest?
In order to feel your best and excel in your daily life, a healthy sleep routine is essential. Getting a good night's rest may take some planning and a little strategy. Below are some tips that will help you get a good night's sleep.
Get Outside into the Sun
Your circadian rhythm is your body's way of naturally keeping track of time. It tells your body when it's time to sleep and when it's time to be awake. Getting sunlight or bright light exposure throughout the day helps keep your brain, body, and hormones healthy by regulating your circadian rhythm.
Research shows that for people who suffer from insomnia, more exposure to the sun or bright light during the day helps to improve both the length and quality of sleep. Another study showed that two hours of exposure to sunlight or bright light was able to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep time by two hours.
You should make an effort to get outside into the sun or get bright light exposure from lighting devices or brighter light bulbs in order to help improve your sleep quality.
Avoid Blue Light Exposure at Night-Time
We’ve discussed the benefits of bright light exposure during the day, but it’s also important to avoid light exposure at night time. As previously discussed, this is because of the impact bright lighting can have on your circadian rhythm. When you expose yourself to bright lights during the night hours, you falsely signal your brain to think it's daytime. This has a negative impact on hormones like melatonin which are critical for a good night's rest.
Blue light refers to light emitted from devices like laptops, computers, and cellphones. Consider some of these methods of limiting your nighttime blue light exposure:
- Invest in blue light blocker glasses
- Utilize apps on laptops, phones, and computers that block blue light
- Turn off the television and any bright lights around your home at least two hours before bedtime
Do Not Consume Caffeine Late in the Day
Caffeine is an excellent tool for increasing alertness, focus, energy, and performance. However, these are not exactly qualities you want when it is time to go to bed. Consuming caffeine too late in the day can prevent your body from relaxing and getting itself ready to go to sleep. The effects of caffeine can last from six to eight hours after consumption. Consider passing on the afternoon caffeine if you find yourself having trouble getting to sleep at night. You could even switch to decaffeinated if you still want to enjoy your coffee later in the day.
Minimize Long Daytime Naps
We have all heard of the benefits of the short power nap, but lengthier naps in the daytime can have the opposite effect. Again, it all comes down to your internal clock. Longer naps may confuse your circadian rhythm and keep you from getting good sleep at night.
Your circadian rhythm revolves around responding to sunrise and sunset. Keeping consistent sleeping and waking times will help keep your circadian rhythm healthy and benefit your overall sleep quality.
Studies show the benefits of regular sleep patterns and the positive effects on melatonin levels, so if you find yourself struggling with sleep, consider getting into sleep and waking routines to help improve your sleep patterns.
Alcohol has been proven to impact sleep patterns negatively. Side effects alcohol can have on your sleep include increased sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns. Alcohol changes melatonin levels which are vital to your circadian rhythm.
Exercise Can Help You Rest Better
Exercise has been proven to improve not only your health and your mood but also your sleep. Exercise and sleep are two activities that both help elevate your wellness. Exercise is a habit commonly referred to for helping improve sleep patterns. Exercise will help your body get to sleep, and when you get good rest, you get better workouts. Research proves that a simple thirty-minute workout will improve your sleep for that night.
Exercise helps to relieve stress which can commonly impair your ability to rest. Endorphins released during exercise give your body a natural high that helps fight off stress and help you relax. Exercising regularly will assist your body with falling asleep quicker and sleep for more extended periods, which will improve your mental and physical health.
How To Get To Sleep When You Can’t
If your mind is racing and you're rolling around in bed unable to fall asleep, you may need to change your approach to help your body prepare itself for sleep. If counting sheep is not working for you, consider implementing the following changes to avoid tossing and turning at night.
- As previously discussed, following a set sleeping and waking routine will help regulate your circadian rhythm, which will assist with getting to sleep and staying asleep longer. Also, make sure you're getting physical activity during the day.
- If you find yourself struggling to get to sleep, consider keeping a sleep journal. It can help you see patterns that may negatively impact your ability to develop good sleep habits.
- If your sleeping issues are getting worse, you may need to consider seeing a doctor. A doctor will be able to help you determine the cause of your insomnia and recommend the appropriate treatment to help get your sleep cycle on track.
How To Sleep Better At Night Naturally
Here are some natural home remedies for good sleep:
- Drink something other than alcohol - As previously discussed, alcohol can negatively impact sleep, but other drinks can benefit you. Consider drinking warm milk or chamomile tea. Warm milk simulates the effects tryptophan has on the brain. Chamomile tea does not include caffeine and can have calming or sedating effects on the brain.
- Exercise - Timing your exercise is essential to being able to reap the benefits it can have on your sleep. Activity-related endorphins and increased body temperature signal your body that it’s time to be awake. Time your exercise accordingly so that your body can feel tired and relaxed at bedtime.
- Consider a Melatonin Supplement - Melatonin is a naturally released hormone in the brain. Melatonin is triggered by dimming the light and sending signals to your brain that it's time to go to bed. However, we often decrease melatonin levels from the blue lights emitted from televisions, laptops, and cell phones. The good news is that melatonin is available in pill form. Just make sure you do your research and buy the brand that is best for you.
- Stay Cool - Body temperature plays an important role in your sleep. Make sure you're wearing breathable fabric and keep your room as cool as possible.
Foods That Help You Sleep
Your body has amino acids, chemicals, enzymes, nutrients, and hormones that all work together to help you get good sleep. Food and sleep are essential; while one nourishes, the other repairs and heals the body. Here are some foods that contain promising sleep-promoting compounds.
- Almonds - Almonds are high in melatonin. They also have magnesium and calcium, which are two minerals that promote relaxation.
- Warm Milk - This is a typical home solution for tossing and turning. Milk contains tryptophan, calcium, vitamin D, and melatonin which all promote sleep.
- Kiwi - Kiwis contain a large variety of healthy sleep compounds such as melatonin, flavonoids, potassium, magnesium, folate, calcium, etc.
- Chamomile Tea - Chamomile is a common natural insomnia treatment. The flavonoid compounds in chamomile promote relaxation, calming, and sedation.
- Walnuts - Walnuts contain magnesium, potassium, folate, and calcium. They are also high in melatonin.
- Fatty Fish - Fish is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which help to regulate serotonin. Serotonin helps to regulate the sleep cycle.
Why You Need Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene, often referred to as sleep habits, are habits that help you get a good night's sleep. Most of these have been previously mentioned but are worth reading again. Consistency is an important technique when trying to go to sleep and wake up at the same time. With practice, your internal clock will know when it's time to wake up and time to go to sleep. You may also consider promoting a quiet atmosphere before bed. Creating a space that is relaxing and peaceful in your bedroom will help you get ready for sleep. Ensure the room temperature is comfortable as well.
Avoid television, laptops, and smartphones at bedtime can help your brain prepare for rest instead of turning back on in attention mode. Refraining from consuming large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before going to bed will ensure you get quality rest during your 8 hours. Also, getting exercise throughout the day, preferably outdoors, helps with your circadian rhythm.
What Are Sleep Hygiene Techniques?
As previously mentioned, making a regular sleep routine is essential for getting healthy sleep. Short naps are ok, but it’s best to avoid lengthy daytime naps. If you find yourself laying in bed tossing and turning with your mind racing after five minutes, get out of bed, sit in a chair, avoid blue lights, and return to bed when you're tired again.
Also, consider taking a warm bath or shower prior to bedtime. Evidence suggests that if you go to bed cool with a lower-body temperature, you will fall asleep fast, and get better rest. Have some meditation or quiet time to relax your mind. Infants thrive from having a consistent bedtime routine. Why wouldn’t it work for adults and older children? Establishing good sleep hygiene techniques is important to get into a routine that promotes a healthy sleep cycle. Sleep is more important than most give credit.