May is Better Sleep Month! It is recognized for encouraging people to establish better sleeping habits and patterns.
Refreshing sleep is a significant factor in maintaining good health. The Better Sleep Council (BSC) supports Better Sleep Month. It aims to raise awareness about the benefits of better sleep and how poor sleep can disrupt our lives.
What Does a Lack of Sleep Do?
Just as a balanced diet and consistent exercise are essential, sleep is just as crucial to our physical, emotional and mental health.
Sleep deprivation has become so prevalent that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it a public health epidemic. Inadequate or a lack of sleep can lead to an increase in blood pressure and stress hormone production.
The body can become stressed when it does not get enough sleep. As a result, poor sleep can lead to reduced concentration, mood swings, irritability, stress, and a weakened immune system.
The release of stress hormones can also make it more difficult to sleep, perpetuating an unhealthy sleep cycle. In severe cases, poor sleep may be linked to serious problems including narcolepsy, insomnia and sleep apnea. Better Sleep Month helps to make more people aware of these problems.
Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your 40 winks:
Tips for Better Sleep
1. Cut caffeine
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s important to reduce, if not eliminate, caffeine in your diet.
If you can’t give it up entirely, at least try to stay away from caffeine four to six hours within your bedtime (half of the caffeine you take in at after 5 pm is still in your body at 11).
A simple 24 hours won’t make a drastic difference, but within a few days of getting rid of caffeine, you should notice that you’re sleeping better.
2. Limit alcohol
Although some may rely on a glass of wine or two to help them go to sleep, alcohol can also alter your sleep patterns and the quality of your sleep.
And once your alcohol level drops, it wakes you up, causing agitation and uneasiness, making it difficult to sleep peacefully for what’s left of the night.
3. Stop smoking
Nicotine is a stimulant that can also interrupt your sleep. There are already a thousand reasons you should give up smoking, but just in case you needed another, sleep makes a thousand and one!
4. Eat lightly
The “itis” may seem like a for-sure sleep remedy, but in reality, a heavy meal before bed is no good – for your health or sleep! So, if you must eat before bed, do so lightly and avoid any foods that might cause stomach trouble such as spicy, fatty or fried foods.
Here is a recent post for healthy eating ideas!
5. Set a schedule
Your body needs to get in the habit of going to bed and waking up at certain times. Set yourself a strict schedule to follow daily. After about a week of following this routine, your body will re-condition to your new sleep patterns.
6. Establish a routine
Along with establishing regular, consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, set up a soothing bedtime routine. Plan a relaxing routine for the 30-60 minutes before bed. This won’t be the same for everyone, of course, so do what feels best for you.
Whatever the routine may be, make sure it does not include screens. Blue light will interfere with your sleep and your body’s cues for sleep and all will be lost.
7. Work Out
Adding exercise to your daily regimen helps with all kinds of things that may interfere with your sleep, like anxiety and depression.
But it also provides specific physiological boosts to sleep itself. Exercise also strengthens circadian rhythms. It can also stimulate longer periods of slow-wave sleep, the deepest and most restorative phase of sleep.
8. Keep it Cool
Almost time to snuggle up and get cozy – but wait! Research suggests a cool bedroom – around 65 degrees, is best for sleep.
9. Keep it Quiet
Rather you’re in a full house or you live in a relatively busy area, setting the peace and quiet tone for bedtime will always be key to a calm and relaxed sleep.
Reduce any loud noises as best you can to help you get into your sleep zone. You can find a variety of devices in stores specifically for this purpose if necessary.
And give your eyes a rest, as well as your ears. Cut out those screens at least an hour before bed!
10. Clear any clutter
Many people relax more easily when their bedrooms aren’t cluttered and full of distractions. So try going minimalist in your bedroom to keep your head and space clear of unnecessary interruptions.
Commit to trying at least a few of these options for a week to get some better rest! Sweet dreams!
Think sleep apnea might be a factor? It is serious but totally manageable. Contact us to find out how.