Sleep is essential in our lives. However, due to our busy lifestyle, we do not always give our sleep the attention it deserves.
Bad or insufficient sleep can ruin your productivity the next day. You will feel more tired, moody, without energy, and will have a harder time concentrating.
Therefore, in this article, we will show you how to have a better sleep for a healthier and happier life.
Sleep hygiene is a group of habits that can help you get the best night of sleep possible. If you want to wake up feeling rested and and energized to do all your daily activities, follow these simple steps:
1- Exercise during the day At least 30 min/day of physical exercise can significantly improve your sleep quality since it increases the amount of slow-wave sleep (SWS), the deepest sleep stage. However, it may be better to avoid extensive exercise too close to bedtime; a minimum of 1 to 2 hours before going to bed is ideal.
2- Make sure your sleep environment is pleasant Your sleeping environment should be cozy and comfortable. Choose comfy mattress and pillows, use humidifiers, sleep masks or anything that can help you relax. The room temperature should be cool (between 60 and 67°F or between 15.6 and 19.4°C) for optimal sleep.
3- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before sleeping Coffee is a stimulant drink, and it'll make you feel agitated. Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestines and causes a stimulating effect in just 15 minutes after its consumption. Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours, and it can take almost 6 hours for one half of the substance to be eliminated.
It would help if you also avoid alcohol before going to bed since it disrupts your sleep quality.
4- Have a regular sleep-waking schedule We have a 24 h internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. This is called the circadian rhythm of our sleep/wake cycle. During the day, the light is perceived in our eyes, which sends a signal to our brain, making us feel awake. When it's night, our eyes send a signal to our brain that it's time for us to feel sleepy. In turn, our brain sends an alert to our body to release the hormone melatonin, which induces sleep. We must have a regular schedule for eating, exercising, and sleeping. This will help your circadian clock synchronize to the external environment. A regular nightly routine can help the body recognize that it is bedtime. So naturally, you'll feel sleepy at night and alert when the sun rises.
5- Expose yourself to the sunlight Light exposure during the day will help your circadian clock synchronize to the external light/dark cycle; thus, your brain and body will understand when it's time for sleep and wake up.
6- Avoid light exposure during the night The hormone melatonin is only released in the absence of light. The blue light emitted by our devices (cellphone, TV, computers) has a short wavelength that suppresses melatonin's production at night.
Because of that, you tend to wake up later and go to sleep later. This is called delayed sleep phase. And if you go to sleep late but have to wake up early to go to work, you'll be sleep restricted and face the negative consequences of it.
7- Avoid stressful situations near bedtime Stress makes you release cortisol, which is usually highest before waking up and lowest during your sleep. If your cortisol levels are higher than normal before you go to bed, this will keep you awake. Cortisol can also alter your sleep architecture, suppressing REM sleep, lowering sleep efficiency, and increasing awakenings during the night. Try to avoid discussions and fights before going to bed.
8- Have a healthy diet near bedtime Heavy foods, fatty or fried meals, citrus fruits, sugar, and soda can trigger indigestion, leading to painful gases that disrupt sleep. Choose lighter meals at night.
9- Balance fluid intake at night Ensure you drink enough fluid, so you don't wake up feeling thirsty in the middle of the night, but not too much, so you don't wake up having to go to the bathroom.
Try improving your vitamin intake. There is evidence that certain vitamins can help you sleep better at night. For example, vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with poor sleep quality, short sleep duration, and sleepiness. A meta-analysis showed that 25(OH)D <20 ng/mL could significantly increase the risk of unhealthy sleep.
In another study, multivitamin and mineral supplementation improved fatigue symptoms and decreased the occurrence of sleep disorders in women diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.