Sleep is one of the most important things affecting your mental and physical health, however, a large number of adults regularly go without enough quality sleep. For students from graduate school to high school the issue of chronic sleep deprivation is a growing issue. There are several reasons for shortened sleep and disrupted sleeping patterns including:
> Stress due to family, school or work issues
> Pain from injury, sickness or chronic illness
> Drinking too much alcohol
> Caffeine intake in the evening
> A poor diet full of fats, oils, starch and sugar
> Going to bed too late
> Watching a screen for long periods
> Noise pollution
> An uncomfortable bed
The effects of poor sleep can be more serious than bad moods, poor focus and tiredness. A disrupted sleeping schedule also increases the risk of more serious health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke.
Irregular sleep also impacts one’s mental capabilities and health affecting concentration, decision making and memory that can lead to depression and stress and of course poor academic performance. A combination of these effects significantly increases the risk of personal injuries and accidents.
Most sleep issues are related to factors that we have individual control over such as setting regular sleeping and waking schedule, eating a healthy diet and use tools to manage stress.
The benefits of good quality sleep are improved immunity, better mental health, and a reduced risk of developing a serious health condition.
If you occasionally experience problems going to sleep or keep waking up in the middle of the night, then here are six simple steps you can follow to improve your quality of sleep.
1. Set a Sleep Schedule
The recommended amount of sleep a night is around 8 hours, significantly more or less than that can affect how well you feel the next day. Working out the best sleep schedule for you can take a bit of research but with Puffy's help you figure out what time to wake up and go to sleep to get the right amount of sleep for you by using a sleep calculator. You should try to go to bed at the same time every night including on the weekends as a routine is easier to keep and you will start to program your body for when to sleep and when to rise.
The benefit of having regular bedtime and wake-up time is that you ensure your internal body clock isn’t interrupted and you get a consistent amount of sleep each night leaving you with plenty of energy every day. It will be easier to fall asleep each night reducing the stress some people have regarding falling asleep.
If you like to take naps you should keep them short and before 3 pm otherwise, it is likely to make you feel too awake at night.
2. Create a Bedtime Routine
Oftentimes a poor quality sleep can be a result of a bedtime routine that doesn’t promote sleep. The things you do and eat in the few hours before you hit the hay have a big influence on how fast and well you sleep. When your mind is too stimulated before bed and during bedtime your sleep schedule is going to be disrupted, so watching TV or using your smartphone in bed is a bad idea. Exercise earlier in the day is great, but to close to bed time can leave you over stimulated.
A recommended bedtime routine should start at least 30 minutes before closing your eyes to sleep. While in bed you should try to unwind and relax by listening to music, reading or stretching to prepare your body and mind for sleep.
3. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
In terms of drinks, everyone knows that caffeine can make you feel more alert and awake, which can be useful for students preparing for exams or those going to work early, but not so useful for inducing sleep. So you shouldn’t drink it in the late afternoon and evening, especially if you find your sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Also remember that other drinks that contain caffeine should also be avoided such as soda and tea. If you are having sleep issues and drink a lot of coffee, you may want to try decreasing your caffeine intake over time and monitoring the effects on your sleep.
To ensure a good night’s sleep, it is also recommended to cut down on alcohol consumption or even avoid alcohol completely as it affects sleep by causing dehydration, nausea and cramps which result in waking up for multiple trips to the bathroom.
4. Make Your Bedroom More Comfortable
Sleep can also be affected by the environment and comfort of your bedroom. It should be a place that makes you feel relaxed and safe. Make sure noise pollution is kept to a minimum, if background noise can’t be eliminated then you can try using relaxation sounds/music or a white noise generator. If you don’t want the room to be completely dark, then you can install layered lighting and lower wattage yellow light bulbs.
The comfort of your bed is also a factor in sleeping well. A soft but supportive mattress, nice pillows and light or thick blankets depending on your preference are all necessary to promote good sleep.
Also, when considering if your room is set up well for quality sleep you will want to make sure the temperature of your room is suitable for you. The recommended temperature for a room when sleeping is 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius. In hotter countries or during the summer months you may need air conditioning or a fan to keep the room cool.
5. Exercise Daily
Working out daily, especially outside increases the chances of sleeping well as you use up more energy during the day making it easier to fall asleep at night. Again, it is not recommended to exercise before bed as workouts also give a mental energy boost an hour or so after that closer to bed keeps you overly alert.
6. Manage Stress
Almost everyone experiences stress at some point, and the effects it can have on sleep varies from staying up all night worrying or having nightmares that can suddenly wake you up.
Stress is often caused by family, money or school/work problems. No matter the cause, it can be managed to minimize the influence it has on the sleep schedule. A few ways of managing stress and the sleep issues it causes are:
> Solve the problem you are worried about
> Focus on building healthy daily routines including one for bedtime to keep stress out of your head
> Only go to bed when you are sleepy, and if you find that you can’t sleep after some time, then it is a good idea to get out of bed and do something productive. Laying in bed for a long time often leads to further worrying, less sleep and more stress, making it even harder to sleep in turn.
> Try to meditate before bed. Studies show meditation can clear your head and reduce stress. A variety of programs are available, including many free online applications, podcasts and online.
> Exercise in the morning or afternoon. In addition to the benefits of exercise for sleep, it can also help reduce stress further helping your sleep patterns.
A broken sleep schedule can be a destructive force. If poor sleep is a regular occurrence it can cause bad moods, tiredness and a myriad of physical and mental health issues. However, you can work on building good sleeping habits by following the six steps in this article to dramatically. You have the tools at your disposal for a better night’s rest!