Tips to Improve Your Sleep Routine
Do you toss and turn at night or wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the day ahead? Many people have this common problem, and even some who think they’ve mastered their sleep routine sometimes have a rough night now and then. Did you know that not getting enough sleep can cause car accidents or accidents in the workplace? It’s true. Falling asleep at the wheel is very serious, and getting enough sleep is extremely important. Lack of sleep can also be harmful to your overall health, but the good news is that you can learn new habits to help you sleep better and rest your mind so you have a peaceful night of sleep.
When you start a sleep routine that quiets the mind, the body will also respond and learn to adapt to the sleep pattern. Creating a good and healthy sleep routine is important. Your mind can get very active during sleep. In fact, some stages of sleep allow your mind to learn and adhere to the sleep routine.
Did you know that sleep improves your immune system and helps fight infection? Sleep can also help prevent heart disease and diabetes. Have you heard the saying, “Rest is best?” It’s true. When you’re sick, you need to rest in order to heal your immune system. When you don’t rest, your immune system weakens because you’re not allowing your body the chance to recover. Rest is very important for fighting off illness. When you manage your sleep and overall health, your mind and body become stronger as a result.
Just like financial debt, there’s also sleep debt. We take care of our finances to ensure we don’t fall deep into debt by creating better financial health. If you think about it, this is the same concept with sleep debt. For example, if you get 7-9 hours of sleep the night before, but you had several nights of 3-5 hours of sleep the previous week, then you are depleting your sleep bank, resulting in sleep debt. Even though you got many hours of sleep the night before, your body is still trying to catch up from the past week. This results in feeling tired and depleted.
When you are functioning on negative sleep, and you keep depleting your sleep bank, your overall health suffers. You need sleep, period. When a child doesn’t get enough sleep, they start to cry and get emotional. It’s the same for adults. When we lack sleep, we can get over-emotional, or have an increased perception of pain, not to mention a weakened immune system. Sleep deprivation can also affect your weight, leading to weight gain. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body starts craving food for fuel to function, especially comfort foods like carbohydrates or high-fat foods. Sleep is important for maintaining a healthy body weight.
Your body needs a certain amount of sleep in order to function daily. When you have sleep debt piled up, it creates a negative effect, which results in poor sleep habits, disrupted sleep patterns, and health issues. Some people can thrive off of 5 hours of sleep. However, most adults need between 7-8 hours per day. Pregnant women need as much as 10 hours per day. Especially, in the first trimester, which often requires the need for more sleep. If you notice that you feel sleepy during the day, you haven’t had enough sleep.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, talk with your doctor for recommendations specific to your needs. Sleep treatments and helpful sleep routines are available to help you sleep better. Some helpful sleep treatments can include, bright light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and continuous positive airway pressure treatment. Bright light therapy could be as simple as spending a short amount of time in front of a bright light to help reset your internal clock.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a relaxation technique or training method that includes biofeedback stimulus control, sleep restriction, cognitive control, and psychotherapy treatments. This cognitive behavioral therapy is typically used for insomnia and addresses the underlying cause of your specific sleep problem. Another technique or treatment for sleep issues is the continuous positive airway pressure, otherwise known as the CPAP. This specific treatment is commonly used for sleep therapy and the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. With this type of CPAP treatment, you wear a mask during sleep, and the machine blows air into the back of your throat to keep your airway open. If you believe you’re not getting enough sleep or may have any sleep issues, it’s imperative you speak with your doctor. You can also check out sleep evaluation tools and download a sleep diary to help your doctor identify the reason you can’t sleep at night.
Do you grind your teeth at night? This can result in waking up with migraines or headaches and cause poor sleep throughout the night. Wearing a mouth guard, similar to the mouth guards worn by athletes for sports, can protect your teeth. A night guard or mouth guard can also help with snoring, and may even help with obstructive sleep apnea.
Read Next: Tips to Help You Sleep Better
Here are 5 valuable tips to improve your sleep:
1. Commit to a sleep routine
Routine is everything because it creates a habit. Keeping a good routine throughout the day can significantly help with your overall health. It’s important to get up at the same time each morning, eat your meals at the same time each day, and go through the same bedtime ritual, just like children do. For example, starting your bedtime routine each night at a certain time to include bath time, reading time, relaxation time, etc. This keeps your internal body clock accustomed to going to sleep when it is bedtime.
2. Implement a sleep schedule
This goes hand-in-hand with creating a routine. You must keep a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even if it’s not a workday. If you prefer to exercise at night, make sure you exercise early enough, such as two to three hours before bedtime, so you have enough time for your body to unwind. You want your body to relax well before going to sleep. If you’re a nap taker, make sure you nap smart by taking a nap before 3 pm. If you nap after 3 pm, it doesn’t allow enough time for you to get back into your sleep schedule. If you need rest, try to nap earlier in the day and limit your nap to an hour or less by setting an alarm. Long, late naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
To start, you should do your best to set aside enough time to sleep at night. There are many sleep apps and tools to help keep track of your sleep, and help you set a time and reminder for when it’s bedtime. Most adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Did you know that athletes have a specific sleep schedule and routine in order to maintain optimal performance? It’s true, and they follow it rigorously in order to perform, have stamina, and improve function. It’s important to relax before bedtime. Stick to your bedtime routine. Listen to soft music, read, or take a bath. If you can’t seem to fall asleep, get out of bed for a few minutes. Do something relaxing or try reading again until you feel tired enough to fall asleep.
3. Create a serene sleep space
Having a comfortable sleep place where you can feel serenity is very important. Preserve your bedroom as a place for sleep. Make sure it’s quiet. Make sure the temperature is cool enough to feel comfortable all night, and make sure your bedroom is dark enough to help you fall asleep faster. Once you get in bed, your mind should be off for the night.
Making changes to your bedroom can help improve sleep. If your bed doesn’t feel comfortable, there are many mattress toppers, special pillows, and amazing blankets to make your bed as comfortable as possible. It’s important to take out the television from your bedroom, and any electronics. The light from electronics or television can disrupt sleep. The bright lights and sounds from the television, phone, or computers can get in the way of sleep.
4. Eliminate stimulants for better sleep
Be aware of what you put into your body and how it affects your sleep. Having caffeine after lunch can keep you up at night. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol, snacks, smoking, and vigorous exercise prior to bedtime. The caffeine doesn’t do your sleep routine any good. The caffeine in drinks, or even in chocolate can take up to eight hours to wear off. These are all stimulants that affect your body and sleep. You might think that having a drink of alcohol before bed may help you feel sleepy, but in actuality, it causes light sleep and causes you to wake up in the middle of the night. Also, eating a huge meal late at night can have an adverse effect on sleep.
Huge meals can cause indigestion or acid reflux that can get in the way of sleep. Try to avoid eating late, drinking too many fluids, and taking medicines that delay or disrupt sleep. Some anti-depressants, heart and blood pressure medications, even asthma inhalers, and cold medicines can harm sleep. Talk to your doctor about your options and the timing of these medications so they don’t disrupt your sleep.
5. Get the help you need for better sleep
Even with a good bedtime routine, sleep schedule, and better eating habits, you can still struggle with sleep. This could be a result of a sleep disorder. It’s important to see your doctor if you have sleep problems or feel tired throughout the day. It’s okay to get help. You may be surprised that certain nutritional supplements or medications could help treat many of the sleep problems you may have. Make sure you take your sleep diary with you when you see your doctor, or take along your sleep app to help your doctor determine the best course of action to help you sleep better.
Making sleep a priority is important for improving your overall health. Putting sleep at the top of your to-do list will create the habit and routine. Commit to a sleep schedule. Your body and mind will thank you.