Getting enough sleep every night is essential to living a long, healthy and happy life. Yet in today’s busy, on-the-go world, it’s hard to get that 7 – 9 hours of recommended sleep every night. A large part of this has to do with an individual’s lifestyle habits. What you do throughout the day can affect your sleep just as much as what you do right before you go to bed. Both play a part in the sleep you get at night and if you’re aware of what these habits are, you can make the necessary changes to get that sleep you need.
What You Eat and Drink
Caffeine: Of course it’s widely known that drinking highly caffeinated beverages before bed will keep you up at night, but did you know that it’s also not good to drink them in afternoon? Drinks such as coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, and even some pain relievers contain high amounts of caffeine and should be avoided after 2 PM, according to health experts. This allows the effects to wear off as caffeine has the potential to cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after consumption.
Food and Alcohol: In addition to caffeine, there are many other foods that can affect your sleep. This is especially true if you eat heavily right before you go to bed. However, there are some food choices that can actually help you get the rest you need. Food that contains Tryptophan will help induce sleep; cottage cheese, banana, milk, graham crackers, yogurt, turkey, cereal, granola, etc. are some great choices.
You also don’t want to eat dinner or drink alcohol right before you go to bed. While alcohol/a nightcap can help you get to sleep, after a few hours it will start to act as a stimulant and interfere with your sleep. In general, don’t drink too many liquids right before going to bed, as you may have to make many bathroom trips while trying to get to sleep.
Your Bed Time Routine
Relaxing: Relaxing just before bed is essential to getting a good night’s sleep; it’s important to clear your mind of the stresses from the day. This, however, can be challenging. Experts recommend doing things like taking a bath when you get home from work (but not right before bed as this raises your body’s temperature, making it difficult to get to sleep), practice some deep breathing, read a book, practice some progressive muscle relaxation techniques, etc.
You can also try Yoga or, in serious cases, stress management therapy might be necessary. The more stimulated your brain is, the harder it is to get to sleep, so it’s important to find strategies that will help you unwind and relax.
Sleep Environment/Bedroom: Another reason why it may be hard for you to relax at night is because of your sleep environment, or bedroom. Of course, you want your room to be comfortable, with a comfy mattress, pillows, and sheets, but there are some other important things to pay attention to.
Make sure that your room is cool, dim, and quite. Dimness tells your biological clock that it’s time to wind down for the day, and reading in this dim lighting is even better. Also, studies show that it’s easier to fall asleep if your room is a little cool, as coolness can stimulate drowsiness. Finally, grab something like a fan to drown out any distracting noises (like your neighbors) that keep you up at night.
Technology: Many people may not realize that technology affects sleep. To improve your environment, turn your cell phone off. Experts say that typing a text, email, etc. can actually wind you up. Furthermore, keeping your phone by your bed where you can easily access it to check the time can increase stress, distracting you and making it harder to fall asleep.
Experts recommend that you invest in a clock radio and turn it away from you before going to sleep. Then, put your phone out of reach and set two alarms; one that wakes you up and one that you have to get up to turn off. This strategy also prevents you from checking the time or your emails, texts, etc. as your phone is out of reach.
Some other helpful tips include exercising regularly, going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, eliminating catnaps, replacing your mattress (if you’ve had it for 9 – 10 years, get a new one), etc.,
Getting enough sleep every night is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, make some of these necessary changes and see if they work for you. Some of them might not work, but at least you’re actively working towards a healthier and happier life.