7 Tips to Get Better Quality Sleep
If you are looking to improve the quality of your life then it’s absolutely vital that you get enough quality sleep.
Sleep is the central pillar that affects everything else, and possibly the single most important aspect of your healthy life routine. If you have not had enough sleep then your workouts will be lackluster, if you can be bothered to do them at all.
Lack of sleep is associated with lethargy (duh) , over eating, depression, suppressed immune system, anxiety, and has been linked to more serious illness such as heart disease and diabetes.
With this in mind lets look at some of the actions you can take to ensure you get a good nights sleep.
Do Some Exercise
Exercise releases hormones that tell your body that it’s time to sleep.
You might be familiar with the feeling of lying in bed feeling tense and unable to sleep, but not necessarily worrying about anything, this can often be caused by lack of physical activity during the day.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed about something, exercise will reduce these feelings, and also promote a feeling of well-being that will help you get a good nights sleep.
Lay off the Alcohol (And Anything Else)
Alcohol may help you get to sleep, but the quality you get will be much reduced.
Alcohol also promotes wakefulness in the early hours, so not only will you get poorer quality sleep, but you will get less of it, and feel not so chirpy the following day.
The same also applies to any other substances you may take, even those prescribed to promote sleep will help you get to sleep, at the expense of the quality of sleep.
Create a Fixed Bedtime
A big part of getting quality sleep is making sure your bodies circadian rhythm (body clock) is set as firmly as possible. This means fixed bedtime and wake time.
If you need an alarm to wake you up, then you might want to go to bed earlier.
When your body clock is firmly set, you should wake naturally at the same time each morning without an alarm. Daytime napping can weaken your body clock, so if you really must have an afternoon doze try to limit it to 15 minutes or so.
Create a Bedtime Routine
You should allocate at least half an hour before bedtime to a wind-down period. This should involve activities that don’t stimulate you too much, so no high speed racing games on the PlayStation, and for many people staying off social media is a good idea.
A good wind down activity is reading. Find yourself a good novel and spend half an hour before bedtime reading it, you will be calm, relaxed and ready for sleep.
Other options are listen to an audiobook, or relaxing music, do some stretches or yoga (nothing too strenuous though).
If you find yourself stressing about the following day then there are a variety of pre-bedtime wind-down techniques you can try. The simplest is to write down your tasks and issues on a pad that you can look over in the morning, so that the rest of the evening can be allocated as ‘worry free time’.
This does require you to develop mindfulness skills, you need to be able to spot a worrisome thought, and reject it. Once mastered this sort of ‘thought filtering’ can improve your mental state throughout the day, not just at bedtime.
Get Daylight in the Daytime and Soft Light in the Evening
Part of getting your body clock in sync with sleepfullness/wakefulness is getting as much bright daylight as you can during your waking hours.
If you work in an office environment, then try to put your desk by the window if you can, if this is not practical you could buy a ‘sad’ (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light. These are bright daylight white lights that are designed to mimic natural daylight.
Conversely in the evening you should try to lower the lighting level, either with dimmer switches, or creative soft lighting. The light given off by modern tech devices is thought to play a part in late night wakefulness, so maybe limit your use of screens late at night.
If you really can’t do without pre-bed screen time then you might consider installing a program like “f.lux” which removes the blue colour from your screen, f.lux is available for just about every device out there. Check f.lux our here.
Limit Caffeine to the Morning
Caffeine has a long half life (5 hours), so if you are a coffee addict then try to limit your drinking to the morning, or at least don’t drink past early afternoon. Also remember that caffeine is found in food like chocolate, so these are best avoided near bedtime.
Some people drink tea before bed, and find that it helps them sleep, this may have some basis in the truth, as although tea contains caffeine it also contains theanine which is a relaxant and is know to reduce anxiety and stress.
Why not see if tea can help you relax and unwind? Check out our loose leaf teas here.
Make Your Bedroom a Comfortable Place to Sleep
This includes suitably thick curtains, especially in the summer time the natural daylight hours do not match normal sleep times.
Your bedroom should be well ventilated and not too warm. It should also be a place limited to sleeping and the other activities that are normally done in bed.
If you live in a city or have noisy neighbours then you might want to try earplugs or a constant sound that masks the external noises, such as a fan or a noise machine. Noise machines are sleep aids that produce a constant low volume white noise that can be surprisingly good at blocking out noises from your environment.
The last thing you might want to try in the short term are sleep supplements, such as melatonin and 5-HTP.
Melatonin is only available on prescription in the UK but is over the counter in most other countries, so frequent flyers often use it to adjust their body clock. 5-HTP has a somewhat similar effect to melatonin and is available over the counter in the UK.
Both of these should really only be used to put you back on the right track, such as if you have been working nights and want to get back to a normal sleep pattern.