Seven Steps to a better night’s sleep
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
Are you having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? If you are, you’re not alone. Whether the cause is from a medical condition, stressful situations in life, irregular sleep patterns from shift work, or any number of other reasons, more and more people are waking up feeling less than rested. Though we can’t eliminate everything from our lives that can make our time sleeping less than ideal, there are some suggestions anyone can try that can lead to a better night’s sleep.
Some light exercise, such as yoga or walking, can help you get a better night’s sleep when done on a regular basis. This is because 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, when done at least three times a week, can help to relieve any built up muscle tension. Less muscle tension will allow you to feel more relaxed in bed, essentially laying the groundwork for a deeper, more effective sleep.
The best time to exercise is during the morning hours, however early in the afternoon has also been proven effective. The only time you definitely shouldn’t be exercising, is during the two to three hour period of time before you plan to go to bed. This is because the adrenaline produced by your body as you exercise can end up interfering with your sleep.
Don’t Eat or Drink Before Bed
It is recommended that you don’t eat or drink anything during the final two hours you plan to be awake. To do so can leave you waking up later in the night with the feeling that you need to use the bathroom. By consuming less food and drinks before going to bed, you can reduce or even eliminate the number of bathroom visits needed during your sleeping hours.
You should also avoid food and beverages containing caffeine long before it’s time to go to bed. As the effects from these products can continue for several hours after they have been consumed, this is something you should be thinking about much earlier into the day. Sticking strictly to a decaffeinated diet might be best if you are still having trouble sleeping.
If you must eat or drink something just before your bedtime, be sure to avoid anything containing grains or sugars as they will raise your blood sugar level and make it harder to fall asleep. If you do manage to fall asleep despite the high blood sugar in your body, it is possible that you will wake up later in the night as your blood sugar level drops.
Before Bed, Enjoy a Hot Bath or Shower
As the day comes to an end, your body temperature naturally drops. This action tells the brain that it’s time to start feeling tired. By taking a hot bath or shower shortly before going to bed, you can increase this natural drop in temperature and amplify your body’s response. This larger drop in temperature has been proven to help people fall asleep faster and to later achieve a deeper sleep.
To be most effective, you should remain in the hot water for around 20 to 30 minutes. This will provide enough time for your body temperature to properly rise.
Use the Bathroom Before Going to Bed
It is recommended that the final thing you do before heading to bed is use the bathroom. In doing so, you reduce the chance of later waking up with the feeling that you need to use the facilities. At the very least, it should delay the urge to urinate until further into the night, giving you a longer period of uninterrupted sleep when you first hit the sheets.
Keep a Consistent Bedtime
For your body to fall into its natural sleep rhythm, the time you go to bed and the time you wake up in the morning needs to remain the same. After a while your body will begin to recognize when it is time for bed and because of this, it will become easier for you to fall asleep. Your body will also start to recognize when it’s time to wake up, so getting out of bed in the morning shouldn’t be as difficult.
It is vitally important to your sleep rhythm to maintain your consistent sleeping hours during each day of the week. This also includes weekends. To change your sleeping habits mid-week will prevent your sleep rhythm from being properly established and as a result, the quality of your sleep will not improve.
Limit the Surrounding Noise
All auditory distractions, such as your television and radio, should be turned off during your sleeping hours. The sounds produced by such devices stimulate your brain and make it more difficult for you to initially fall asleep. If the noises from these devices continue to play while you are sleeping, they can also prevent you from entering the deeper stages of sleep later on in the night.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep because of outside noises or some other sounds that are out of your control, it might be useful to purchase a white noise machine. These can effectively drown out the other sounds that are keeping you awake at night. If you do not have access to a white noise machine, the whirring from a fan can be just as effective at canceling out other unwanted sounds.
Ear plugs are another great resource to lower excess noise while you are sleeping. Since they reduce several decibels of noise, they can be excellent if you are the type of person that prefers to sleep in a quieter environment. As there are many types of ear plugs on the market, some additional research may be required to find the pair that is right for you.
Darker Rooms Make for Better Sleeping
Maintaining the darkest possible environment is very important during your sleeping hours. Even the smallest bit of light in the sleeping area can inhibit your body’s production of serotonin, which helps to regulate the onset of sleep. If a completely dark room is not possible, you may wish to consider using a sleep mask to block out any additional light.
If you do need to get up in the middle of the night, it’s important not to turn on any bright lights. You should continue to keep the area as dark as possible, because it will be much easier to continue sleeping if your body hasn’t been fooled into thinking it’s time to wake up. A small night light will provide more than enough light to safely find your way in the dark, but it won’t be bright enough to keep you from falling back asleep once you’ve returned to bed.
Be it from life’s stressful events, certain medical conditions, or any number of other reasons, too many people are waking up in the morning without feeling completely rested. With our busy schedules often leaving us little time to sleep, we need to do everything possible to get the most the hours we actually do get. By following these seven simple steps, you too can improve the quality of your sleep and start getting the kind rest you’ve always dreamed about.