Sleeplessness or lack of quality sleep has become a pandemic affecting working people all over the world. Today, a vast majority of the working population complains of waking up in the morning with a feeling of tiredness accompanied with either a headache or body ache. Most people have become dependent on various sleeping pills, depressants and sedatives to fall asleep at night and some even resort to having a drink just to be able to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. The simple and natural process of falling asleep has become a nightmare.
Yes, it is true that modern day work demands are stressful and that staring at a screen all day does adversely affect the mind and body which might from time to time hamper the quality of sleep. However, the reason that most struggle to get a good night’s rest is simply because they fail to establish healthy sleeping habits. In this article, we’ll look at the 5 top sleep habits that you can inculcate which are guaranteed to help improve the quality of your sleep.
1. Exposure to Light
Light is deeply related to our body’s biological clock. So much so, that our body secretes a particular hormone called melatonin that is controlled by exposure to light. This naturally occurring hormone plays a pivotal role in regulating our body’s sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Today, our livelihood’s, for the most part, are dependent on using various forms of technology that emanate unnatural lights which do adversely affect our body’s secretion of melatonin and therefore our natural sleep-wake cycles.
A large part of the reason why we’re unable to get a good night’s sleep has to do with our exposure to unnatural lights throughout the day and also into the night. While, we may not be able to control our exposure to the blue lights that shine out of our work devices during the day, we can certainly ensure that we limit using our laptop’s and phones well before we go to bed.
By switching off our tech devices an hour or so before sleeping, we can allow darkness to inhibit the production of melatonin naturally, thus inducing a feeling of relaxation and sleep.
If for some reason, you can’t fall asleep without some light activity, such as reading, installing a dimmer switch next to your bed is a great way to effectively reduce your exposure to light and create a more sleep-conducive environment.
2. Get In Sync with your Body’s Natural Rhythm
As we mentioned above, our body’s have a natural sleep-wake cycle aka circadian rhythm, which is controlled by our exposure to light as well as our lifestyle choices and sleep habits. Keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule or getting the same quantity of sleep at irregular time intervals can be the difference between feeling fresh and full of energy or drowsy and exhausted.
According to your current lifestyle, choose a particular hour to fall asleep every night to help set your body’s internal clock and enhance your quality of sleep. You don’t have to alter your daily schedule unless you work odd hours or the night shift. Only, pick a time when you naturally feel tired and get accustomed to getting into bed at that particular time every night. It’s okay if you miss by a few minutes or even close to a half hour initially, but you should try not to postpone or prepone your set time by more than an hour.
Try not to nap for more than a total of 30 mins during the day if you want a complete night’s rest. If you find yourself groggy and tired well before your designated bed time, occupy yourself with some light activity to avoid falling asleep. This will ensure that you don’t get up in the middle of the night wide awake.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Inculcating the habit of regular exercise either daily or a few times week is the most effective step you can take towards enhancing the quality of sleep you receive. Exercise makes the body feel more naturally tired, helps boosts metabolism, and directly improves mental and emotional health among several other positive benefits. If your work schedule doesn’t permit time to hit the gym, try getting one of the best spin bikes for your home or a top of the line rowing machine. Not only are they convenient and easy to maintain, but they both deliver high-intensity workouts that can help you burn between 400-500 calories in less than 40 minutes!
A physically tired body naturally spends more time in the deep regenerative stages of sleep as opposed to a body that is plagued by stress and mental tension. Although the time of exercise does not matter much, it is a good idea not to exercise too close to your bedtime. Since, exercising naturally increased your body temperature and stimulates hormones such as cortisol, exercising too close to your bedtime can harm the quality of sleep you get at night.
4. Watch What you Eat and Drink at Night
What you eat and drink towards the evening can affect your quality of sleep. Try not to eat big, calorie dense meals too close to your bedtime, as your body will be forced to work overtime to try and digest the food when it should be winding down and prepping for sleep. Eating too much before bed can cause indigestion and keep you up at night. Keep a gap of at least 2 hours between a big dinner and your bedtime to optimize the quality of sleep
The same goes for drinking too much fluid, especially excessive caffeine during the day and water in the evening. Try and limit your consumption of water to a glass after dinner. Otherwise, you might be forced out of bed a couple of times at night.
5. Create a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom Environment
You should ideally reserve your bed for only sleep and sex. Keep your bed neat and tidy and free of clutter. Avoid working or using your laptop and phone in bed and create a cool and quiet bedroom environment. With you room cool, quiet and dimly lit, over time, your body will naturally come to feeling sleepy in that environment without much struggle on your part. If you must do something before sleeping, try and make a habit of reading a light book before you sleep.
By inculcating the above practices and making them a habit over time, you will certainly see a stark difference in the quality of your sleep. You might even find your sleep quota reduce to a few hours a night, while experiencing greater engery and joy during the day. Good luck and be patient on your journey to better sleep.
Andrew is the founder and CEO at Aim Workout. As a passionate fitness professional and triathlete, there is no adventure he won’t embark on. From mountain biking, deep sea diving, rock climbing and cycling to boxing and mixed martial arts, Andrew has a penchant for the wild and extreme.