5 Ways to Improve Your Quality of Sleep
Lack of sleep is something most of us have to deal with at one point or another. Whether you’re studying for college exams, working extra hours for your job or just staying up late because you have a lot on your mind, there’s a good chance that you’ll eventually suffer from the effects of lost sleep.
You don’t have to sit helplessly by while your health and relationships suffer. Here are 5 easy ways you can improve the quality of your sleep.
Establish a routine
You might think this sounds easy enough, but it can be very challenging for active people with crazy schedules. As hard as it might be on certain days, this step is critical for being able to fall asleep quickly. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t fall asleep until 3 or 4 in the morning, try changing your schedule by a half-hour or so each week for a month. That should get you into a better routine comfortably enough to help you avoid falling back into your old ways.
Your bedroom should be for sleeping and nothing else. If you’re in the habit of sitting in bed while you pay your bills, do work, write papers for school or watch television, your mind will associate the bedroom with these types of activities, rather than sleep.
It’s important that you create an environment that’s conducive to sleep and free of the day’s distractions. Try using some soft lighting, the most comfortable bedding you can afford and some relaxing music to get you in the mood for sleep.
Keep in mind that the lower the temperature is in your bedroom, the easier you it should be for you to fall asleep. Turn the clock away from your bed so you don’t find yourself looking over at it and dreading that you’re still awake.
Don’t eat before bedtime
Your eating habits can have a lot to do with whether or not you’re able to get to sleep at night. As soon as you lay down, the acids in your stomach begin to level out. This can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Additionally, your metabolism has to increase for your body to digest food, which can raise your energy level considerably.
Your best bet is to eat your last meal or snack at least three hours before going to bed. That means eating your dinner or having that late-night snack at least three hours before you need to hit the sheets, in order to get a full night’s rest.
Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine during these hours as well, to keep your blood pressure and energy levels from going up. Even alcohol can disturb your sleep patterns when its initial sedative effects wear off.
Ease up on napping
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t nap at all if you really need to, but rather that you should plan naps more carefully. All you really need is a boost to get you through that afternoon or after-work slump we’re all familiar with.
Most sleep counselors recommend short naps of no more than 20 minutes. This keeps you from getting too groggy and prevents you from getting so much sleep during the daytime that you won’t be able to sleep at night.
Additionally, if you know that you’re going to be up late on a particular night, try to squeeze in a nap early on. You’ll be able to stay up longer and not need as much sleep that evening, while still being able to get up at the same time the next morning.
Get a check-up
If your sleep troubles have been going on for a fairly long time, it may be time to pay a visit to your doctor. You can try every strategy in the book, but if you’re unknowingly dealing with an issue like sleep apnea, the sooner you figure out what’s really going on, the sooner you’ll be able to implement these other strategies and take charge of your health.
Ultimately, you’re the only one who can improve the quality of your sleep. Sure, it can be difficult at times, but you have to start somewhere. You can’t expect to get the rest your body needs without changing a few habits that might be responsible for keeping you awake.
Many are unconscious choices, and once you realize what you’ve been doing to sabotage your sleeping patterns, you can start enjoying life again, well-rested and prepared to face the day’s challenges.
-by Ed White