Do you struggle to fall asleep at night and feel groggy and cranky the next day? Well, you might want to improve your sleeping habits to feel energized and refreshed throughout the day.
In this guide, you’ll learn simple adjustments you can make to your sleep routine to get better sleep. But before saying goodbye to tossing and turning every night, it’s important to learn why you do so in the first place.
What Impacts Your Sleep?
What You Eat and Drink
Certain foods can cause heartburn and acid reflux, resulting in nighttime discomfort. Examples include fast food, pepper, cheese, fatty meats, and fizzy drinks. Overeating may also bring discomfort, keeping you awake during the night.
Caffeinated drinks block the adenosine receptors, and the ensuing stimulating effects take time to wear off, causing delays in sleep. While alcoholic beverages make you drowsy at first, they can lead to disrupted rest as well.
Certain medications cause insomnia and thus affect your sleep quality. Examples include steroids, anti-depressants, beta-blockers, and alpha-blockers.
How You Schedule Your Days
A consistent daily routine may promote better sleep. So you should maintain the same schedule of events or activities every day.
Your Evening Routine
Your evening routine establishes behaviors that tell the brain when it’s time to sleep. Stick to the same order of events every night, and your brain will see those activities as a signal for bedtime.
With these factors in mind, you can consider the following tips for getting better sleep.
Tips for Better Sleep
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Stick to the same sleep and wake-up times daily, including on weekends or vacations. Consistency strengthens your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle.
- Set enough sleep time. Set a bedtime that covers 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye.
- Only go to bed when you’re sleepy. Going to bed before you get drowsy diminishes the sleep drive. So you may end up lying awake for hours.
- Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep in 20 minutes. Do something relaxing in another room with little light exposure. Only go back to bed when you’re sleepy.
- Exercise regularly. You will sleep better with regular physical exercise, but avoid exercising before bedtime.
- Don’t drink alcohol or coffee before bedtime. Limit your alcohol consumption to at least 6 hours before bedtime.
- Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime. Consuming too much liquid before bedtime means you’ll wake up several times at night to go pee.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Keep your bedroom quiet and relaxing.
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Don’t take a heavy meal right before bedtime: A healthy, light snack will suffice.
Creating a relaxing environment in your bedroom is also key to a good night’s sleep.
Creating a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom
Aim to maximize comfort and reduce distractions when designing your sleep environment. You may also consider using the following tips:
Use a High-Performance Mattress and Pillow
Look for a mattress that offers a balance of comfort, support, and firmness. Your sleeping position will determine the choice of pillow.
Stomach sleepers need the softest and flattest pillows. Side sleepers do well with the loftiest and firmest pillows. Meanwhile, the best pillows for back sleepers have medium loft and firmness.
Choose Quality Bedding
Your body temperature tends to rise during the night. Hence, the materials used in your bedding can help you stay cool and dry. Go for natural fibers like cotton and wool, and avoid less-breathable synthetic fabrics like satin and rayon.
Avoid Light Disruption
Bright lights can disorient your body clock and hinder the natural secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin. So, aim for near-perfect darkness in your bedroom.
Cultivate Peace and Quiet
A quiet bedroom is essential for a good night’s sleep. Use a white noise machine to drown out all background noises that may interrupt your sleep.
Find an Agreeable Temperature
For most sleepers, a room temperature between 60° F and 67° F is ideal for uninterrupted nighttime sleep.
Introduce Pleasant Aromas
Exposure to certain scents before bedtime improves sleep quality. Some of the best scents for sleep include lavender, jasmine, and rose chamomile.
How to Make a Good Sleeping Schedule
One of the most important considerations in creating a sleep schedule is setting a fixed wake-up time: Each sleep cycle lasts for 90 minutes. So, pick a wake-up time considering at least four complete sleep cycles and wake up at that specific time every day.
It’s also crucial that you budget enough time for sleep. For adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is ideal.
You must also keep nap time under 30 minutes. You should also avoid napping late in the afternoon or it will disrupt your nighttime sleep.
Lastly, remember to adjust your sleep schedule gradually. The best way to adopt a new sleep cycle is to make gradual, 15 minute-adjustments.
Take 3 to 4 nights to adjust to a new sleep schedule, and then adjust your wake-up times 15 minutes earlier. Repeat this till you’re able to wake up at your ideal time.
Now that you know the importance of a sleeping schedule, how do you fix your bedtime routine?
Making an Effective Bedtime Routine
- Wind down for at least 30 minutes: Aim to quiet any anxious or worrying thoughts before bedtime. Your wind-down routine can include reading, listening to music, or light stretching.
- Lower the lights: Bright lights suppress the production of the sleep hormone and disorient your sleep cycle. So dim your fluorescent and LED lights before bedtime.
- Disconnect from devices: Electronic devices like TVs, smartphones, and computers discharge blue light. Blue light suppresses melatonin production and reduces the time you spend in two sleep cycle stages. Therefore, you should ditch all your electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime.
The Bottom Line
Many adults don’t get enough sleep at night for various reasons. Fortunately, getting the recommended at least 7 hours shut eye is achievable.
Consider adopting habits that promote better sleep. These include creating a sleep schedule, regular physical exercise, and ditching devices before bedtime. By doing so, you’ll always wake up well-rested.
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