Just like eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise, sleep also plays a huge role on our health. However, like many people, you may be having trouble getting a good night’s sleep. According to Aviva, two thirds of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep each night.
Aviva suggests that an average UK adult sleeps for six hours every night. This is below the average seven to nine hours recommended by experts.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Besides, lack of sleep places a major strain on your mental health. You cannot afford to trifle with sleep.
Take a second to think about this- when was the last time you had a proper uninterrupted sleep? Have you been overworked lately? Stress and anxiety are factors that can alter your normal sleep cycle.
Don’t go running to sleeping pills just yet (unless prescribed by a doctor). All you need might just be some simple behavioural changes to get your sleep quality significantly improved. Here are 7 secrets to getting a good night’s sleep.
Adopt A Sleep Routine And Stick To It
Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by the circadian rhythm- the body’s internal clock. This cycle repeats itself every 24 hours and rotates between sleepiness and alertness at successive intervals. It aligns itself with sunrise and sunset.
Jet lag as well as staying up late to watch a movie are few factors that can disrupt your circadian rhythm. These disruptions may result in memory problems in addition to making you feel grumpy.
Having a regular sleep schedule maintains your body’s circadian rhythm. This can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily.
Hence, try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.
Increase Your Exposure To Bright Light During The Day
This also has to do with your circadian rhythm. It affects your brain and hormones informing your body of when it’s time to sleep. We are naturally wired to be awake when there is light and asleep when it is dark.
When exposed to bright light, a small area of the brain is stimulated. This eventually initiates certain active processes like raising the body temperature, releasing stimulating hormones like cortisol. On the contrary, release of melatonin- a hormone that promotes sleep-is delayed until it gets dark.
Melatonin levels remain elevated throughout the night until the sun rises again. Exposure to daylight is quite healthy for your circadian rhythm. To get a good night’s sleep, try exposing yourself to morning sunlight.
You can start by taking a walk outside every day. Not only are you improving your sleep quality, but you’re also engaging in physical activity.
Limit Your Use Of Electronic Devices At Night
This almost seems like an impossible task in the twenty first century doesn’t it? Well, it might just be the one factor making it hard for you to fall asleep at night. While exposure to light during the day is beneficial, it’s the opposite when it comes to the night.
Our smartphones and computers emit what is called “blue light”. This light has been linked to causing eye strains and sleep disruptions. Blue light deceives your body into thinking it’s daytime and lowers your melatonin levels. Thereby, making it harder to catch some sleep.
It can be quite difficult to abstain from your digital devices at night. That is why we’ve gathered a few tips to help reduce your exposure to blue light:
- Install blue-light reducing apps on your phone. They are present in both Apple and Android devices
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses
- Turn on night mode in your device settings
- Limit screen time.
Avoid Eating Late In The Evening
If you want to get some good night’s sleep, try having dinner at least three hours before bed. Eating late at night can prevent you from falling sleep and adversely affect your sleep quality.
Consuming a heavy meal before bed can result in disrupted sleep. In essence, the quality of your late-night snack matters.
You might be working late into the night and start feeling very hungry. At this point, you go for light snacks like an apple or a handful of nuts. Don’t consume anything that is sugary, spicy or has caffeine in it.
Regular Physical Activity
Exercising regularly is one of the most effective ways of getting that good night’s sleep. There’s huge scientific evidence that proves how exercise contributes to healthier sleep.
A regular exercise routine basically:
- Improves sleep quality
- Increases sleep duration
- Reduces stress levels and relieves anxiety
- Helps with insomnia and other sleep disorders
While exercise improves sleep, doing it too close to bed time may have negative effects. When you work out too late in the night, your body becomes stimulated and energised. It makes it harder to fall asleep in this state.
Therefore, engage in moderate exercise to improve your vitality in the day and sleep quality in the night. Also read some great home workout options to keep yourself healthy and active.
Get A Comfortable Mattress And Pillow
The quality of your bed can affect how you sleep. To have a good night’s sleep, your body should feel totally relaxed.
If you’re waking up in the middle of the night from back pain, shoulder pain or back stiffness, you should probably check your bed. It is established that high quality beddings have a positive impact on the quality of sleep.
It is advised to upgrade your beddings about every five to eight years.
Mindfulness tends to increase mental focus allowing you to be more conscious of your thoughts. Evidence suggests that it also helps to manage stress, anxiety, depression and weight loss.
Mindfulness meditation helps to improve sleep quality by preparing your mind for that sleep transition stage. This is an effective relaxation technique that helps to clear your mind before bed.
In conclusion, getting a good night’s sleep should be included as a top priority in order to live a healthier life.