5 Simple Things You Can Do To Sleep Better Tonight
Getting enough sleep is one of the best rewards you can give your body after a long day. It allows your body to rejuvenate its hardworking cells and restore energy that you need for the following day.
Unfortunately, the harsh demands of daily life lead us to unwittingly form habits that make it hard for us to sleep soundly. Sleep deprivation is one of the most dreaded health issues experienced by hardworking adults, yet based on a research done in 2014 by the Centers for Disease and Control, 1 out of 3 American adults get fewer snooze time based on what is recommended for their age group.
Getting less sleep than what we need makes us feel groggy throughout the day, which leads to unwanted unproductivity. It also leads to weight gain, moodiness, problems with concentration, and worse, a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.
If you’re tired of constantly having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep, here are five tried-and-tested tips that you can try to get your circadian rhythm back on its feet.
1. Keep Electronic Devices Away From Your Bed
With the existence of portable devices such as smartphones and laptops, technology has become an integral part of our lives as these gadgets allow us to do work and interact with friends with just a few clicks.
Come bedtime, it’s often very tempting to check your phone or laptop before you hit the hay. Aside from this usually leading to another hour of scrolling down your newsfeed (despite promising to yourself that you’ll sleep after 15 minutes) the real danger here is the blue light emitted by your phone or laptop.
A lot of studies have been published that warns us of the dangers of blue light exposure. Melatonin is the sleep-inducing hormone released by your body to prepare for bed time, and research shows that blue light suppresses the production of melatonin more than any type of artificial light.
It’s almost impossible to avoid artificial light these days, but scientists recommend staying away from blue light 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed. Your Facebook status can wait another day!
2. Keep a Diary
Some people find themselves tossing and toiling in their sheets the entire night, haunted by millions of thoughts running in their heads. If this sounds all too familiar to you, perhaps it’s time to stop keeping all those thoughts to yourself.
An effective way to end this is to start a habit of keeping a diary: this is a harmless way of detoxifying your brain from your thoughts and worries. Writing down on your diary every night is also a healthier replacement for the devices that you’re used to fidgeting with before sleeping, thus you’ll be hitting two birds with one stone.
This is scientifically proven as well - research shows that people who keep a journal experience enhancement in immune function, drops in blood pressure, and an overall decrease in stress. If bad thoughts keep you awake, perhaps it’s time to pick up a pen and start the good habit of writing on a diary before you sleep.
3. Develop a Regular Sleep Schedule
Believe it or not, the body has its own clock which keeps a schedule of your daily activities. This is called the Circadian Rhythm (your ‘body clock’), the 24-hour cycle of your physiological processes. You can feel this whenever you’re feeling energized in the morning, or drowsy whenever bedtime is only a few hours away.
Following your body clock is vital for a healthy and happy disposition in your daily life. However, you can ruin this clock by constantly sleeping past your bedtime or napping excessively during daylight hours. This leads to a lot of problems: feeling tired when it’s not even close to bedtime, difficulties sleeping, and if your clock is continuously disrupted, it can lead to insomnia. These small symptoms will eventually lead to lifelong diseases you’ll regret later in life, as chronic insomnia can lead to psychological, physiological problems, and an increased chance of sudden death.
If you want to stop or prevent these symptoms, you can start by setting a strict bedtime schedule, allotting time only for sleeping and nothing else. Napping is okay in moderation, but doing so for more than an hour can really destroy your body clock. If you become more observant of your body clock, you’ll eventually feel the difference by having plentiful energy throughout the day!
4. Cut Down Your Caffeine Intake
Some people run on coffee - as someone once told me, ‘don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee!’ I can’t blame her though, a good cup of joe is undeniably tasty, and it gives you that kick that really helps you start your day. Coffee has a lot of benefits for your body as well: it boosts your metabolism, increases your mood, and it is scientifically proven to make you live longer in general.
But what comes after a coffee high is the dreadful coffee crash: a short period of time when you suddenly feel drowsy, dizzy, or anxious. Hold that thought of having another cup though; it actually does more harm to you than a short coffee crash.
Too much caffeine will keep you up and you’ll have difficulty trying to sleep. Studies show that drinking caffeine 6 hours before bedtime takes away an hour of bedtime. Thus you can still enjoy your coffee, but make sure to plan ahead to ensure a good night’s sleep. The same applies to sugary food and drinks, like coke and candy bars - it’s best to avoid these kinds of food before bedtime along with caffeine.
5. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise has too many benefits to ignore. It can lead to weight loss, clearer skin, better immune system, and so much more… which includes better sleep during nighttime.
Exercise helps you reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can cause difficulty when you’re trying to sleep. It also helps you deplete your energy in which your body will be craving to restore after an exhilarating session at the gym. The sudden dip in body temperature after exercise will make you feel drowsy, too.
If you’re trying to exercise to specifically improve your sleep, make sure to do it five to six hours before you plan to sleep. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you’ll find yourself energized until its way past your bedtime. So if you haven’t started doing regular exercise yet, it’s better late than never - you’ll be healthier in the long run!
So before you succumb to taking sleep-inducing medication, it wouldn’t hurt to try and see if these inexpensive and natural tips can help you finally get a good night’s sleep. A little discipline goes a long way, and your body will thank you for it!