Do you sleep well? I have a hard time shutting my brain off to go to sleep, but once I'm asleep I'm out like a light and can and do sleep through anything. I don't wake up refreshed, unfortunately, due to chronic fatigue, unless I get over 12-14 hours of sleep. But for many, the issue isn't as drastic as mine. Here are some things you can do to help improve your night's sleep.
If you find yourself lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling and struggling to fall asleep, it may be time to evaluate your sleep habits. Many common habits can negatively impact sleep quality without you even realizing it. Fortunately, making a few simple changes to your daily routine can get your sleep schedule back on track. Read on to learn about five habits that may be ruining your sleep and how to fix them.
Using Devices Before Bed
It’s become a common pre-bedtime ritual to scroll through your phone or tablet, catching up on the news or social media right until you turn off the light. However, research shows that the blue light emitted from devices inhibits melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate your circadian rhythm and makes you feel tired at night. To curb this habit, stop using your devices at least one hour before your target bedtime. Switch gears to a relaxing activity, like reading a book or taking a bath, to help your body wind down and prepare for sleep.
Inconsistent Sleep Schedule
Having an unpredictable sleep routine makes it difficult for your body’s internal clock to signal when it’s time for bed. While it may not seem like a big deal to stay up late or sleep in on the weekends, the inconsistency can accumulate and throw off your sleep cycle. To improve this habit, set a regular bedtime and wakeup time that allows for the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Follow your set schedule during both weekdays and weekends to regulate your body. After a couple weeks, you should notice improved sleep quality.
Consuming Caffeine Late in the Day
It’s no surprise that caffeine can keep you up at night. But you may not realize what a long half-life caffeine has – meaning its stimulant effects can last for several hours after ingesting. Consuming coffee or energy drinks too late in the afternoon can interrupt your ability to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Place a 3 PM cutoff time for your last cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage to allow it to completely wear off before bed. Switch to herbal tea or decaf after that time.
Exercising Before Bed
While regular exercise helps beat insomnia over time, working out too close to bedtime raises your body temperature right when you need it to decrease for sleep. This includes all types of cardiovascular exercise that spike your heart rate. Complete your workout at least 3 hours before getting into bed so your body has time to cool back down. Gentle yoga, Pilates or light stretching in the evening will not have the same sleep-disrupting effect.
Uncomfortable Sleep Environment
If your bedding has seen better days or your room tends to be uncomfortably warm or cold at night, these disruptions can prevent quality sleep. Update to comfortable bedding, experiment with different pillows and mattresses if needed, and get blackout curtains to block excess light. Getting better sleep doesn’t have to be expensive – even something as simple as wearing lightweight breathable pajamas and taping your mouth closed with paper tape can vastly improve comfort. Optimizing your sleep environment removes physical distractions, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
Incorporating some of these fixes for common sleep-disrupting habits can help you stop counting sheep at night. Pay attention to your body’s sleep signals and set up the right conditions for restful sleep. With consistency, your sleep troubles should subside, and you’ll awake feeling refreshed. We hope this advice helped.
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