Sleep deprivation can compromise your mind, body and spirit. Here are 15 strategies to help you get the good night’s sleep you need
Sleeping is one of the basic and most rewarding human activities. It brings you a number of health benefitswhile also helping you to relax and enjoy some alone time. Unfortunately, a lot of people struggle to establish regular sleep patterns.
Sleep is a natural state of mind in which humans recover both their physical and mental strength. This is exactly why people who don’t sleep enough contend with chronic fatigue. Studies show that over a third of Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night, while as much as 40% of 40-59 year-olds report short sleep duration due to stress and reliance on modern technologies.
Preventing sleeplessness can be a long and challenging process. But there are things you can do to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
There are many reasons why sleeping well is vital to your physical and mental health. Some of the advantages include:
- Improved health condition — Sleeping well helps you to prevent a number of serious health conditions. Poor sleep is one of the largest contributors to heart disease, inflammation, cancers, and more.
- Stress reduction — People who don’t rest enough can never fully recover from everyday duties. They don’t let their brains process the daily influx of information, which boost stress and causes long-term exhaustion.
- Feeling energized — Do you know that feeling when you sleep for eight or nine hours and wake up completely fresh and energized? This is what quality sleep does to your body and your mind.
- Better memory — Sleep plays an important role in the consolidation of memory. You can study as long as you want, but your brain can hardly store new information without proper rest.
- Weight loss — Insufficient sleep interferes with the hormone balance in the body which often leads to obesity. On the other hand, people who sleep well tend to lose weight much faster.
- Natural self-repair — Jake Gardner, a member of essay services who specializes in psychology, says sleep represents a natural way for humans to self-repair: “Although we are asleep, our body and our mind are working hard behind the curtains to prepare us for the day to come.”
- Mood boost — People who don’t sleep well often feel under the weather. This is completely natural given the fact that they feel tired and exhausted. Conversely, a good night’s sleep will give you a great mood boost.
- Sharper concentration — When you feel fresh and relaxed, you can more easily focus on everyday duties and cope with problems that may arise.
- Enhanced athletic performance — Athletes who don’t sleep well are not able to reach their full potential. Quality sleep plays a vital role in enhancing athletic performance by repairing and restoring heavily trained muscles.
- Quality social life — For all the reasons we mentioned above, sleep also becomes an important factor in your social life. When you feel sharp and energized, you feel more confident and look forward to meeting people and engaging in social interactions.
15 Practical Tips to Sleep Better
1. Exercise regularly
People who feel tired physically almost never have a problem falling asleep. It’s just how our bodies function. When you give your body a big test during the day, your body will react by falling to sleep in the evening. You don’t have to do a serious training session; a 30-minute walk or jog is enough to prepare you for a nice sleeping session.
2. Don’t eat before you go to sleep
If you want to sleep well, you need to let your body off work, too. Avoid eating within 2 hours of going to bed, because digestion taxes your physiology. Your mind will be more than ready for a nap, but your body won’t, so save the late-evening snack for tomorrow.
3. Stop using your phone while in bed
Do you know that almost 90% of smartphone users actively check email on their phones? It’s the first thing they do in the morning and the last thing they do in the evening. Add websites, social media, and live chat to the equation and you will realize why it is necessary to stop using your phone while in bed.
About 25% of people aged 18 – 24 say that they don’t sleep well because of technology which keeps you awake and forces your mind to keep working — the direct opposite of sleeping. So, turn off your phone; the messages can wait.
4. Get comfortable
Many people neglect this issue but changing the environment you sleep in can greatly help you get a good night’s sleep. Eliminate clock-ticking noises and sounds of electronic devices, and make sure that your bed is comfortable. Do you really enjoy your mattress and pillows? It may seem irrelevant, but such details can make or break your hopes of sleeping well.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary of peace and comfort.
5. Sleep in a dark room
Light is yet another factor that can disturb you while trying to fall asleep. First of all, try to maximize exposure to sunlight during the day, because it gives you that much-needed dose of energy. Secondly, get blackout curtains to stop any kind of outside light from entering the room. This creates a marked contrast to your daily sunlight exposure and also helps your mind to develop a natural sleeping cycle.
6. Go to sleep early
Speaking of regular sleeping rhythms, humans evolved from natural earth cycles that makes it natural to go to bed early in the evening and get up early in the morning. This can be difficult for some people, but it’s the way we are innately programmed to function. If you are a night owl who never goes to bed before midnight, perhaps consider changing your habits gradually and try going to bed well before midnight.
7. Remember to hydrate
Most people don’t equate sleep to hydration, but it actually plays a major role in the way you sleep and relax. Dehydration causes your mouth and nasal passages to become dry, setting you up for sleep-disruptive snoring and a parched throat and hoarseness in the morning. Try to stay hydrated throughout the day so you minimize the desire to drink too much water late in the evening (unless you like those late-night trips to the bathroom!)
8. Limit your daytime sleep
Most people enjoy a quick daily nap from time to time because it helps us to regain our strength and prepare for the rest of the day. A daily nap can be beneficial, but your mind only needs 15 or 30 minutes to recover fully; a longer nap ends up disturbing your nighttime sleep routine, so keep your naps short and sweet.
9. Maintain your sleeping habits during weekends
Do you get up early in the morning from Monday to Friday, but can’t wait for the weekend, because you can sleep ‘til noon? While it may sound inviting, it is by no means a useful habit sleep-wise. Instead, stick to the same sleeping pattern every day and let your mind rest as usual. Weekend changes will only make it more difficult to develop a restorative sleep schedule during the week, and probably disrupt your workday routine as well.
10. Listen to classical music
To all of you music lovers out there, listening to classical music can help you to relax and fall asleep easier. That said, be careful about what you choose to listen to while in bed because the nature of the composition impacts its final effect. Studies show that music with a relatively slow beat may help your body hit its internal snooze button, especially compositions following your nightly heart rate of about 60 beats per minute. Avoid complex or dramatic compositions, opting instead for peaceful and melodic pieces.
11. Cool down the room
Humans are used to sleeping in cooler rooms. Therefore, you should maintain a moderate temperature level of approximately 65° F or 18° C to help your body relax and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Our inner mechanisms dictate that the body temperature has to decrease in order to fall asleep quickly. This is why you may not sleep well during hot summer nights — the temperature is way too high for your body to relax and get comfortable. Of course, the same goes for cold winter nights if the temperature falls much below this level.
12. Stop brainstorming and write down your tasks
Brainstorming is yet another cause of sleep deprivation. Some people have too much work to complete so they go to bed while still thinking about tomorrow’s commitments — not a good thing if you want your mind to relax. You can prevent this by taking a few minutes to write down the things you need to do tomorrow.
To-do lists make people feel safe and secure because they know they won’t forget anything. It’s a simple tactic, but it does miracles for people who can’t get their minds off work.
13. Use sleep apps
Generally speaking, it’s always a good idea to avoid technology near sleep time, because it interferes with your sleeping routine. There are, however, some apps that can assist you in dealing with insomnia. Each one listed here comes with a full set of sleep-friendly features, but you should experiment or try free trials to see what effects you may experience.
- Sleepio — This tool promises to help you fall asleep up to 50% faster.
- Relax Melodies — This tool is a source of beautiful melodies that make you feel calm and relaxed.
- Sleep Genius — This tool helps you discover your perfect bedtime and improve sleep cycles.
14. Practice relaxation
Trying to relax is always easier said than done, but it’s actually excellent advice for anyone struggling with sleep deprivation because all it requires is willpower and concentration to start breathing deeply and visualizing pleasant places, people or feelings. This practice can help you calm down and stop worrying about everyday tasks.
15. Meditate before going to bed
This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one, but it requires a little more dedication and effort. Meditation is a mental technique in which you are trying to focus on a specific goal, typically that of separating yourself from the myriad thoughts and stimuli around you, to more deeply connect with your inner being. This practice can help you to concentrate and fall asleep faster. There are numerous meditation techniques to try out there, so research a bit and find one that suits you the best.
You may also enjoy reading Daring To Rest: The Post Trauma Healing Powers of Sleep by Karen Body