Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Or are you continually woken by nightmares, the need to move your legs, or because your snoring is waking your partner? If so, you are likely experiencing the negative consequences of sleep deprivation which can include brain fog, irritability, an inability to focus, excessive daytime sleepiness, and impaired motor skills.
Some people simply need to make a few lifestyle adjustments to get a good night’s sleep. Here are five tips that will help you prepare your mind and body for bedtime and increase your chances of resting peacefully throughout the night.
Regular exercise tires out your body, assists with circulation, and can help you deal with stress. Exercise in the morning can also enhance the sleep/wake cycle by raising the body temperature and indicating to your brain that your day has begun. If you exercise outside, you also benefit from vitamin D and melatonin that you absorb from the sun, also enhancing sleep. Aim for at least half an hour of aerobic exercise per day, preferably in the morning or early afternoon. Even taking a brisk walk once a day can have a big effect on how you sleep that night.
Unplug an Hour Before Bedtime
Melatonin is an important hormone for sleep and the blue light that comes from devices such as your phone, the television, or laptops can suppress the release of it. Try to turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime and aim to keep all devices out of your bedroom. Even the light that emits from alarms or nightlights can disrupt your sleep, so consider other sources to wake you in the morning. Instead of looking at devices or watching TV before bed, consider taking a warm bath, reading a book, or taking the opportunity to reconnect with your kids or partner.
Create a Dark and Peaceful Sleeping Environment
As mentioned above, even the smallest amount of light in your room can have a negative impact on the quality of your sleep. If you live in the city and have bright lights coming in through the windows, you might want to invest in some blackout shades. If this still isn’t doing the trick, you can wear a sleep mask that mimics a dark room to your brain.
Though some may be able to drink a cup of coffee in the late afternoon without it affecting their sleep, others can’t drink anything caffeinated after mid-morning without experiencing negative consequences that night. If caffeine keeps you up at night, limit yourself to only one cup in the morning, then switch to filtered water or decaffeinated tea throughout the rest of the day. If you still think caffeine is a culprit, you may need to eliminate it altogether.
Develop a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine is good for your circadian rhythms and signals your brain that it’s time for sleep. Stick to the same bedtime as closely as possible – even on the weekends – and develop several habits you perform in the same order each night. This can include taking a bath, washing your face, brushing your teeth, reading a few chapters in bed or doing some relaxing stretches or yoga before turning in.
If you’ve done all of these things and still do not sleep well, or if you believe you sleep well during the night but still wake up tired or suffer from sleepiness during the day, you may have a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea. If you think this may be the case, it’s important to get evaluated by a professional so you can get the proper treatment that will help you get consistently restful sleep. Schedule an evaluation today to find out if obstructive sleep apnea is behind your sleeping issues.