18 Effective Tips to Sleep Better
An article by David Wright gives us many tips to help us sleep much more effectively and have more constructive/productive lives in the process.
Uninterrupted sleep through the night is crucial for good health. And anybody suffering from disturbed sleep pattern should work on improving sleep hygiene.
Many studies confirm that physical and mental health largely depends on sound sleep. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) It is impossible to live a productive life without an interrupted sleep pattern. If you want to stay alert and mindful through the day, you need to let your body and mind relax for at least 7-8 hours.
There are different methods and rules to improve your sleep significantly. Here are 18 tips that you can start implementing today.
1. Minimize Daytime Naps
Daytime naps don’t substitute nighttime sleep. But if you feel down during the day time and find it hard to stay alert, it is better to develop a habit of 30 minutes daytime nap. It refreshes your body and mind, and improves your mood (8).
But if you already tend to sleep for more than an hour during the daytime, you need to reduce this time down to 30 minutes or to stop doing it at all (9, 10). In this case, you can feel the urge to go into the bed at the right time in the evening.
2. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine after the Sunset
You need to make sure that these stimulants aren’t disturbing your routine so consume moderate quantity and avoid using any of these stimulants after the sunset.
Alcohol is known for making you fall asleep early. But the fact is that if you consume alcohol just before the bedtime, it disturbs your sleep because your body begins processing alcohol which keeps you from a relaxed sleep.
3. Keep the Balance of Sufficient Exposure to Natural Light
If you spend most of the time indoors, you need to reconsider your routine to ensure the provision of sufficient natural light to your body. It is essential to tune your body because it requires a proper sleep-wake cycle.
Exposure to darkness at the night and sunlight during the day helps your body’s responsiveness to these natural conditions.
4. Be Physically Active
Aerobic exercises contribute a lot to good quality sleep. You can try cycling or jogging. But make sure you don’t engage yourself in a strenuous workout just before the bedtime.
Morning and daytime training have no alternative. But if you can’t find time in the morning or during the day, you may opt for an hour before the sunset.
5. Don’t Eat Before Bedtime
Your stomach should rest during sleep. When you eat late in the evening, the digestion process will continue at night. That will significantly impair the quality of your sleep (13, 14).
Also, during the evening try to avoid all food items which disturb your digestion. Generally, fried meal, citrus fruit, spicy dishes, and carbonated drinks contribute to indigestion.
The situation becomes frustrating if it occurs at nighttime. It can make you get out of bed, and sometimes even doesn’t allow you to hold a comfortable posture. The result is constant discomfort and frequent change of position throughout the night.
6. Stick to a Schedule
Believe it or not, your body needs tuning and consistency to follow a set routine. It’s capable of recognizing the bedtime routine and preparing itself accordingly (15). You can train your body by using a pattern of activities, for instance, reading or taking a shower before bedtime. The mind recognizes the activity and transmits the signals to prepare the body for a sound sleep.
It may seem a bit difficult to perform, but you have to follow the set schedule even during the weekends strictly. You need not let your body break the rules because it ruins all the hard work you’ve done during the weekdays. After all, that is the reason why Mondays are “heavy”.
If you are used to sleeping late on weekends, then it may take a couple of weeks to get things on track. But as soon as your body gets used to the new routine, you’ll not have problems during the weekends. Yes, everything new feels uncomfortable in the beginning, but once it becomes a habit, everything falls into a comfort zone.
7. Participate in Discussions with Caution
That is something people rarely care about. If you aren’t careful during the discussion, especially with your partner or other family members, the results may be devastating.
Make sure to take extra care and avoid engaging in emotionally disturbing conversation. One such emotional communication may push your mind away from relaxing for the evening or even for a few days.
8. Comfortable Sleep Environment
First, you need to make sure that the mattress and pillow are perfectly comfortable.
Next, the temperature of the bedroom is also critical (16, 17, 18, 19). The ideal temperature ranges from 60oF to 67oF. But it strictly depends on climatic conditions and your body’s adaptability. If you live in warmer regions, South Asia, for instance, the ideal room temperature is 26oC or 78oF.
Darkness is essential too. A single flash of the smartphone screen can ruin your sleep for the rest of the night. Make sure to turn off the TV, smartphone, and other electronic gadgets. For the alarm, you can use a mechanical table clock, or use it on a smartphone, but make sure to switch it in a flight mode before falling asleep). Also, if artificial light enters from the street through a window, it’s highly recommended to close it with blackout curtains or lower the roller shutters.
Some people suggest using ear-plugs to avoid noise, but I don’t recommend using them all the time – only when you are forced to sleep in some ambient noise. But for your regular nights, it’s better to keep your body accustomed to natural surroundings. If you once start using such alternatives, your body will develop a habit of using these products. If not available for some reason, you wouldn’t be able to sleep.
So, I suggest never to let your body get used to any artificial solutions. They may solve one problem but can trigger some other issues.
9. Sweep Away All Worries
It is normal to keep thinking about the next day’s undertakings. The mind doesn’t relax, and you spend the whole night staring at the ceiling. There is an easy way to sweep away the worries of the coming day.
Pick up your pen and diary, note down the To-Do List, and mention the time against each task at hand. It will let your mind recognize that you’ve sorted out everything.
It is all about letting yourself know that everything is alright. It pushes your thoughts away from such self-assumed worries, and your mind can finally relax.
It doesn’t take much effort because it is all about concentrating your thoughts to let your mind slip into the sleep mode. We all have read and heard about telepathic practices. Let’s use these practices to relax your mind. Forget about moving an object via invisible waves.
I’ve tried staring at an object in dim light, and it really helped my mind to slip into a highly relaxed state. It prepares your body to sleep within 10 to 15 minutes.
That is basically a way of tricking your mind and body. It works as an illusion by telling your body that it is the time to sleep. Your muscles relax, and your mind is in a better position to dictate the terms.
11. Take an Evening Shower
If you aren’t used to taking a shower at nighttime, then it may take you a few days to find the comfort zone. But it is an effective strategy to prepare your body for a sound and uninterrupted sleep.
Some individuals can’t just resist cold water. If you are the one, you are lucky. Right after the initial cold-water shock, your body adjusts well. Cold water is known for stimulating response to the parasympathetic nervous system.
Cold shower is more refreshing and keeps your body calm through the night. It helps you get rid of the itching irritation which frustrates your body if you don’t take a shower before going to bed.
If you aren’t comfortable with cold water, you can add some Epsom salt (magnesium-based) in the bath. Magnesium helps to prepare your body for a sound sleep.
12. Keep Your Room Dark
Many people can’t sleep without illuminating a dim light bulb in the room. But darkness is significant. Once it is dark, the brain transmits a signal by producing Melatonin hormone to tell the body that it is the time to sleep. The more it is dark, the more is the production of melatonin hormone (20, 21).
13. Don’t Use White Noise
You might have seen some people recommending White Noise to keep away the sounds from the external environment. This solution works well in eliminating the effect of the sounds coming from the outside. But this strategy itself is a huge problem.
While using White Noise, you are accepting a different sound to keep away another sound. It is basically a practice of training your ears and mind to get used to sound when sleeping. This habit will turn out to be a nightmare for you in the long run because you wouldn’t be able to sleep without the sound you are used to.
White Noise machines are typically associated with children. People use them to help the baby sleep better. But this is a seriously unwise idea!
You can underestimate the following potential disadvantages of White Noise machines:
• White noise machines often violate 50 decibels limit, and they tend to exceed it.
• Consistent use of White Noise devices may result in a slightly delayed response from speech and hearing senses. Besides, it may slow down the development of your baby.
• Babies find it hard to sleep without White Noise once they are used to it. It becomes frustrating and irritating for the parents as well because the unavailability of White Noise annoys the kid, and he/she behaves vigorously.
• White Noise actually works for some and doesn’t work for others. But the problem is, even when it works for some people, it may lead to agitation and disturbed sleeping patterns in the long run.
So a BIG NO to White Noise!
14. Manage Stress Levels
Anxiety and elevated stress levels are very disturbing, and they do not allow the body to fully relax during sleep. Nothing works here unless to control your stress levels. Fortunately, you can do it easily by exercising.
First, you need to put your thoughts on a positive track. Negative thoughts give rise to stress levels. They frustrate you more than anything else. So, learn to relax. Deep breathing and meditation are a few of the best things you can do to manage stress levels.
Also, if you have an evening discussion, it’s better to eliminate the differences before going to sleep. Some people find it hard to put an end to the extended debate. For instance, if you are arguing with your friend or family member, sort out all the differences before going to bed. Otherwise, you’ll keep thinking about what you should have said, what you missed, and how you could have solved the issue.
Anger management is also a part of managing stress levels. Develop a habit of reading books. Visualize a peaceful environment, watch a cool movie, or simply play with your kids for a while to relax.
15. Avoid Blue Light Exposure during the Evening
When you’re watching videos, surf the web or reading a book from your smartphone, tablet or PC, your brain receives signals that it’s still daytime, so it doesn’t prepare your body for sleep (22, 23).
Try not to use any electronic devices or watch TV in at least one hour before falling asleep. Also, it’s better to keep subdued, dim lighting, and avoid any bright light during this time.
If you still need to work on PC in the evening, install F.lux program which adapts the display to the time of day. It changes colors to warm in the evening, so it’ll help to avoid blue light. There are apps for smartphones that do the same (Darker, for example).
16. Avoid Drinking any Liquids Late in the Evening
The best sleep is uninterrupted. So, to have a sound sleep during the whole night, you don’t want to wake up to go to the toilet. That’s why you should do it right before going to bed, and don’t drink water or any other liquids at least one hour before falling asleep.
You should get rid of this habit if you want to have a sound and healthy sleep. If you aren’t able to completely quit smoking, at least try not to smoke in the evening.
18. Turn Off All Electrical Appliances
Electromagnetic fields (even weak ones) affect our body and consequently affect the quality of our sleep (27, 28). That’s one of the reasons why we usually get better sleep in a country house or tent than in a city apartment.
When you go to bed, turn off your PC, TV, Wi-Fi router and all other electrical appliances except the refrigerator. It’s also highly recommended to switch off your smartphone, or at least to put it in flight mode.
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep Hygiene is a combination of different habits and practices which contribute to uninterrupted nighttime sleep and an active daytime routine.
How to Know If You Have Poor Sleep Hygiene?
There are several things that are suggestive of poor sleep hygiene. Daytime sleepiness, failure to stay alert during the day, and inability to avoid sleep interruptions at night are the major signs of poor quality nighttime sleep.
Tired All The Time
The reasons for feeling tired all the time include:
– Staying up late night
– Having to take care of a baby crying all night
– Spending more time at work than usual
Feeling tired is common among people, but it doesn’t mean that you need to take it lightly. Once your body begins to feel tired on regularly, it keeps you from enjoying healthy physical activities. The quality of your life drops down to worrisome levels.
Finding the Reasons for Being Tired
Sometimes it is not about staying late at night or spending more hours at work. In addition to physical reasons, there may be other ones.
See if your lifestyle is normal. An unhealthy diet, consumption of stimulants, and lack of exercise can also result in disturbed sleep patterns.
Besides, psychological causes can trigger sleep disturbance. Having an emotionally disturbing conversation, financial problems, and relationship instability are the major psychological problems which play havoc with your sleep routine.
Poor sleep hygiene is suggestive of weak and dull lifestyle. It leads to a non-productive life. You can’t enjoy your life to its maximum without quality sleep.
If you want to live more active and productive life, you need to first serve your body and mind with rest they deserve. Various essential functions inside the body require deep sleep. In the absence of proper sleep, the body fails to perform correctly, and it puts your entire existence into an uncomfortable position.
Start improving your sleep hygiene right now by working on the tips mentioned above, and don’t forget to quit smoking, eat natural food, think positively, stay physically active. Soon you will be amazed how much happier, more prosperous, and more energetic your days will be.
Article by David Wright