Getting enough sleep is important for your health and wellbeing. Poor-quality sleep not only leaves you feeling cranky and tired the next day, but it can have consequences for your health as well. Research suggests that insomnia is associated with conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, and that it can also negatively impact your mental health.
Take your sleep and your health into your own hands by implementing some strategies to help you get more consistent and quality shut-eye. Here are five top suggestions to start with.
1. Get regular exercise
Getting more exercise during the day will make your body naturally feel more tired and ready to rest at night. Exercising regularly is associated with improved sleep duration and quality over the long-term. Keep in mind, however, that exercising too close to bedtime can actually make it more difficult to fall asleep, so plan your workouts for earlier in the day.
2. Eat an earlier dinner
Like exercising too close to bedtime, eating and snacking late in the day can also make it harder to fall asleep because your body will be busy digesting. Strive to eat dinner earlier so that your body is finished digesting by the time you are trying to fall asleep. Also, while it is important to stay hydrated and drink enough water during the day, you should avoid drinking too much right before bed if you find you frequently get up to use the bathroom at night.
3. Don’t drink coffee too late
Caffeine can remain in your system for several hours after you ingest it and, if you are a regular coffee drinker, it may be the culprit behind many of your sleepless nights. You don’t necessarily have to cut caffeine out of your diet if you have trouble sleeping at night, but you should endeavour only to drink it in the mornings or the early afternoon at the latest.
4. Stop looking at screens before bed
Electronic screens are another major cause of sleepless nights in today’s world. This is both because they act as distractions and because they give off blue wavelength light which inhibits the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycles. Try to stop looking at screens at least an hour before it is time to sleep.
5. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Finally, you can significantly improve your ability to fall and stay asleep by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This will effectively train your body to start getting tired when it is closer to bedtime and to regain alertness more quickly again in the morning. It may be tempting to sleep in on your days off work, but it will also break the cycles your body was getting used to. Keep it consistent for best results.
Don’t take sleep for granted. Help your body fall asleep and stay asleep through the night by trying out some of the strategies detailed above and adjusting them as-needed in ways that work for you.