“I want to sleep until I feel better” – this is the underlying saying, is it not? Fighting against fatigue and anxiety is a never-ending battle. There is a social taboo attached to sleepless nights, depression, anxiety, and other health ailments. Many individuals experience a lack of sleep and use it as a trophy, “I can live off 4.5-5 hours of sleep a night and manage perfectly fine,” you could definitely live off that, but is it contributing positively to your quality of life? More than likely, no.
It may come as a surprise that getting a good night of quality sleep can improve multiple areas of your life, including your health. Not only can reinforced sleep patterns be beneficial for busy professionals, housewives, students, and any human alive, but it can also play an important role in how you represent yourself daily. Rather than ignoring the sleepless nights or effects that come with chronic fatigue, understand that you are not alone and do not need to live life feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
Then what happens when someone offers you help? It is completely normal for someone to be diagnosed as someone who is a long sleeper versus a short sleeper. Are these real diagnostics – according to Sigrid Veasey, a physician who studies sleep at Penn Medicine, said “it may also matter when you lose sleep. Sleep-deprived mice look prematurely old.”
Here you will find the best guide to improve your sleep while living up to your full potential:
1. REST AND RELAXATION
Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it seem nearly impossible to get any bit of shut eye. Taking steps to manage your stress levels and learn how to kick that worry to the curb may help you in unwinding at night. Think about it, how challenging it may be to wipe your feet off at the door when you come home – those long stressful days at work and now you come home to just as many responsibilities. What you need is to take that time and put it towards yourself while you wash away those strenuous endeavors.
It is no surprise to see this at the top of the list. Sleep and stress work together very well, or against each other. So, why not take some time at the end of your night to engage in self-care and take a bath. This sounds like the perfect beginning to your self-care treatment. Rest and Relaxation.
Slip into that warm bath water and let your mind wipe away any frustrations that are troubling you. Here are some great relaxation techniques that you can follow when it comes to improving the quality of your sleep. If you are feeling the weight on your shoulders, try calming your mind at least an hour and a half before you hit the sheets. To step it up, improving a peaceful sleep space can play a huge role in your quality of sleep as well.
It is like building a new muscle, the more you practice and engage your rest-and-digest system while you are awake, the easier it will become to regenerate that same response when promoting sleep.
Keep your space clean. While you are waiting for your warm bubble bath to fill up, take those dirty sheets off your bed, and throw them in the wash. While you are calming your mind in the bathtub you have a little extra to look forward to – the gratitude of knowing you have clean sheets to slide into bed with. When you get out of the tub, throw them in the dryer. Oh, how nice and warm they will be in an hour. Having that clean space promotes mindfulness, mental clarity, and the peace of mind your new sleep pattern will provide you with.
"Excellent self-care and excellent service are inextricably linked. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of business."
2. REDUCE YOUR EATING OR DRINKING BEFORE BED
Your daytime eating habits can play a role in how well you sleep throughout the nice, especially right before you go to sleep. If you catch yourself midway through the day right after lunch reaching for that extra cup of coffee, you might be harming yourself without knowing it. The late afternoon effects of drinking this much can last a lot longer than you may think. Our internal clock is regulated by a chemical in our brain known as adenosine – having too much caffeine can inhibit the regulation of melatonin. It is recommended that 400 milligrams daily is tolerable for healthy adults – that means four to five cups per day. However, some people are more susceptible to a sensitivity to caffeine and the inability to break it down.
There are several reasons why going to bed on a light stomach can promote a healthy
sleeping habit. Eating large meals too close to your bedtime can inhibit the digestion process leaving you feeling full and unpleasant. Some people may experience signs of digestive distress such as heartburn, GERD, or acid reflex. It takes between three and eight hours for the stomach to empty its contents. If you wake up feeling heavy and full– this could be why.
How many times do you wake up hours before your alarm just to go to the bathroom? Waking up in the middle of the night can seem like a drag – pulling your feet out of bed with one eye open while trying to avoid running into anything in your path. Try avoiding limiting the amount of liquids you take in within 3 hours of sleep.
Trying to fall asleep on a grumbling stomach can be difficult. If you are hungry, do not go for a full course meal, but go for a small healthy snack (an apple with a slice of cheese, or a handful of berries) – which should get you through the morning. If you catch yourself reaching for the sweet or salty snack you may want to try a food diary. This may help you keep track of how much you are consuming.
3. PUT A CURFEW ON YOUR ELECTRONICS
It is understandable to want to try and catch up on that new episode from your favorite tv show, keep up on your social media, or even check your email before bed. You have a busy life and being attentive to your phone, laptop, or tablet may seem like a must, but prioritizing your sleep is just as important. Learn to set these energy boxes to rest at least one hour before you hit the hay. Tuning yourself out of this habit early can be more beneficial than late. Your circadian rhythm will thank you in advance.
Subjecting our eyes to harsh lights before we go to bed can be affecting the quality of our sleep. Naturally, our circadian rhythm is activated during specific hours of the day making it easy for us to wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night. Some researchers believe there is a correlation with light exposure and the melatonin production (sleep chemical) in our brain. A Harvard study – Blue light has a dark side – shed some light on this topic by revealing the effects of blue lighting and the decreased production of melatonin. You can increase your melatonin production by putting down the electronics earlier in the night.
For some of you the thought of this could be gruesome. I am sure the thought of boredom has crossed your mind once or twice while reading this. While I am not saying you have to shut your lights off early to fall asleep, I am suggesting doing something that gets your mind moving like reading a page of your favorite book or try doing a puzzle. You will be surprised with how well you adjust to this nightly habit. You never know, maybe you will end up liking it 😊.
In addition to setting this curfew for yourself it is critical to keep a consistent sleep schedule. On the weekends you might find yourself staying up a couple hours later knowing you do not have to wake up to your morning alarm. We are all creatures of habit, and sometimes I catch myself doing this, but prioritizing my sleep is even more important.
"The first step to dealing with sleep deprivation is restructuring priorities to allow for adequate sleep."
This may seem like a walk in the park (there I go with the puns 😉), but if it were everyone would be doing it. Regular exercise is important for implementing that sound and restorative sleep you have been looking for. Juggling exercise with your busy schedule may be just what you need to get that extra hour of shut eye. Have you ever questioned whether getting up early to work out is worth it? No questions to it, all answers. Exercise and sleep complement each other well and adding this into your routine could change your sleepless nights into the most restful sleep of your life.
Regularity is extremely important for that sound restorative sleep that you are searching for. When you mess around with your sleep and wake schedule too often your circadian rhythm may be thrown all out of whack making you feel sleepy at strange times. You may also notice that you cannot fall asleep at night, and your appetite and energy is fluctuated as well.
Some people like to workout on their own while others prefer to exercise with a group of people. Whether or not that means a group fitness class at your local health club, or a small group training class you will be thankful. Exercise has many benefits to our health – detox. The process starts by clearing out the lungs, cleansing the skin as we sweat, and increasing blood flow throughout the body. Consider the timing before you down a whole cup of an energy substance. As mentioned earlier, drinking a caffeinated substance later in the afternoon or evening may keep you up at night.
Check out my post – My Favorite Outdoor Exercises – to enjoy some fresh air activities!
In a research study by Cheri Mah – sleep medicine researcher at Stanford University – was depicted that there is not one that is better than the other and when tested with less than seven hours of sleep per night it can turn into a spiral of negative effects. Individuals who exercised between 3-5 days per week had notable differences in their sleep patterns and increased energy throughout the day. The danger that comes is finding time for only one of them.
Any amount of exercise is better than none, at the very least try for going for a 30-minute walk or job to get into a routine. If you are ready for the next level join that Zumba class at your fitness center or join a community of fitness inspired individuals who are looking for an accountability buddy. You might be surprised who you might find! Next time you think about skipping your workout in the morning, just think about what your future self would do.
“Exercise not only changes your body. It changes your mind, your attitude, and your mood.”
5. TEMPERATURE CONTROL
There are so many key ingredients to improving the quality of sleep and one of them is temperature control. Earlier we discussed the importance of rest and relaxation on the mind so it would make perfect sense that the same thing goes for your body. There is plenty of evidence that shows the importance of the cooler camp out. For some of you who live in warmer climates may see an increase in sleep insomnia, while those who live in cooler climates typically sleep longer and deeper.
The change in core body temperature from warm to cold sounds nuts but understanding the jump from a sauna to the cold shower could be the big break that we need in understanding how the body fluctuates internal temperatures on its own.
There are so many reasons why sleeping with the air at 67 degrees (F) can affect your metabolism leading to weight loss over the long haul. As easy as it sounds, cranking down the thermostat is not so simple. When it comes to our extremities from the neck down, they are not created equal. While you are sleeping you may notice that you wake up with your foot hanging off the side of the bed or your socks lying next to you in bed. I absolutely resent waking up with my foot over the bed because, well… I watch too many paranormal films and the thought of this is terrifying.
The wonderful benefit of our central nervous system is that we do not have consciously think about ways to lower our internal body temperature because – well – our autonomic nervous system takes care of it. While you are sleeping your temperature drops slightly lower than 98.6 and is constantly fluctuating depending on what you are doing. This keeps your organs cool and ready for sleep, rest, and relaxation. It also is very good for weight-loss! I know that sounds crazy, but when you are slightly cool and shivering your metabolism is sped up therefore – science – burns energy which equals calories!
I know this seems like a lot of bedroom science, but the bottom line is that keeping your head above water (comforter) is great for good and conducive sleep. Set your thermostat between 65-67 degrees (F) for optimal results and do not forget to layer up until you feel the sandman creeping in.
6. RESERVE THE BEDROOM FOR SLEEPING
I know how appealing it can be to exercise the idea of completing that extra document that is due the next day while sitting in bed but listen to this when I say – do not do it. That also means limiting the use of watching tv, using electronics, and any sort of work-related tasks. Doing this may come as a shock, but most of those things have been mentioned above.
The bedroom should be reserved for sleep and intimacy. I do not want to be the bearer of bad news, but the environment of your bedroom has a lot to do with the outcome you are having with sleep. Promoting a sound slumber depends on it. Ever wonder why bats tuck themselves away in cold and dark caves? That is because they know what their internal clock wants.
Clearing out years of clutter may greatly improve the way you feel when you get into bed. I talk about the benefits of clearing out your space in the post discussing ways to improve your happiness – you may be surprised to hear how well feng-shui plays a part in how we sleep. If you have not heard of this Chinese tradition then, “you gone learn today,” this is a practice that looks at our living spaces and work environments to strike balance. The practice has been used for thousands of years by teaching the importance of keeping a clean home, work area, and car.
Believe it or not, but the cleanliness and energy we leave behind plays a critical role in the way we wind down for the night. Not only is the bedroom supposed to be a sanctuary for cool, positive, and gratifying energy, but it is also to be used for romance and building a secret love relationship with our other half. When you are cuddled up next to that special someone think about how you feel, happy, fulfilled, relaxed, maybe even drugged?
In a recent study found by Pittsburgh School of Medicine spending hours of time in bed with your true love is one of the best things that you can do with one another because of the “cuddle chemical – oxytocin”. The chemical releases feelings of empathy, trust, relaxation, and reduced anxiety. Those that were found to have this type of love relationship with someone slept better overall. No surprise there, the sleep-relationship connection works both ways around. Getting more sleep meant fewer negative interactions with partners throughout the day.
"Before you go to sleep, do not forget to say thanks or everything good that has happened to you in the last 24 hours."
Some of these tips are going to seem easier than others and as your daily habits and nightly routine changes the easier they will become. Sticking to the key points and following through are going to increase your chances of noticing the impact on your quality sleep. That being said – not all sleep disturbances are easily treated. Some sleep disorders may be present due to underlying causes or illnesses. If you do not see changes in your sleep ritual then it may be time to consult with your physician.
At the end of the day it all comes down to a couple of things: how well you balance self-care, mental awareness, and physical activity. Before you roll over and go to sleep make sure to like, share, and subscribe so that you never miss out on new materials! We would love to hear your experience with late night snacking. Please like, share, and subscribe to my newsletter so that you never miss any new materials. Spread the word to all your friends, family, and co-workers.
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