10 proven tips for BETTER SLEEP.
Updated: Jan 9, 2022
We spend about 26 years sleeping and around 7 years just trying to sleep in a lifetime. Sleep is crucial for survival and performance. We can survive longer without food and water than without sleep. In a night's sleep, we go through several cycles of rapid eye movement (REM), light sleep and deep sleep phases. Several factors decide the quality of sleep. These include total sleep hours, total REM sleep, total light sleep, total deep sleep, deep sleep continuity, awake times & duration and breathing quality. With changes to our lifestyle, factors like light pollution, noise pollution, insomnia, working late hours etc., resulting in chronic sleep problems, have steadily crept into our lives and affected sleep quality. This article highlights the 10 proven tips for better sleep that we can easily incorporate into our schedule.
#1 RELAX before bedtime:
Relaxing before going to bed prepares our bodies for sleep. We may use one or more forms of relaxation like meditation, listening to soothing music, reading a book, taking a massage, deep breathing etc. Reserve about 15 to 30 minutes for relaxation before bed for better sleep.
#2 Have a CONSISTENT TIME to go to bed and wake up:
Having a consistent time to go to bed and wake up helps increase sleep quality. Our body's circadian rhythm aligns to sunrise and sunset. In addition, a hormone released by our body called melatonin relates to the sleep-wake cycles. Inconsistent sleep timing negatively impacts sleep quality by altering melatonin production. Try waking up naturally without an alarm. It isn't easy initially but gets easier as we progress.
The best time to sleep is from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
#3 EXERCISE regularly:
Exercise challenges us physically and mentally. Several studies have proved a positive link between exercise and sleep quality. It is important to not exercise just before going to bed as it prevents us from falling asleep. Instead, have a wholesome diet and make sure to get quality micronutrients. For better sleep, exercise regularly and have a nutritious diet.
#4 Get enough SUNLIGHT during the day:
Sunlight helps keep the circadian rhythm (our body's bio clock). The circadian rhythm helps signal the body to fall asleep and stay awake. Ensure to expose the body to sunlight so that the circadian rhythm gets tuned to the local timings of sunrise and sunset. It is equally important to avoid bright light after sunset as this may disrupt the circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight releases the serotonin hormone that helps us stay focused and calm. In the absence of light, our body releases melatonin which helps us sleep better. So getting about 30 minutes of sunlight (preferably early morning) helps with better sleep.
#5 Avoid BLUE LIGHT sources before sleep:
Blue light has a very high potential to block the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Due to little or no release of melatonin, it takes longer to sleep. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid blue light after sunset to help improve sleep quality.
#6 Avoid CAFFEINE, TOBACCO and ALCOHOL:
Caffeine is a brain stimulant and helps us stay focused. It works wonders as a pre-workout supplement to boost performance, but it disrupts sleep if taken after sunset. Caffeine makes it difficult to sleep and reduces the total sleep time.
Like caffeine, the nicotine in tobacco is also a stimulant. Nicotine enters our body when we smoke or chew tobacco and interferes with our sleep physiology.
Alcohol may temporarily make us feel relaxed and sleepy, but studies show that alcohol reduces sleep quality and duration.
Avoiding caffeine and caffeine-rich food like coffee, tea, pre-workout supplements, tobacco & alcohol in any form after sunset will help with better sleep.
#7 Optimise SLEEP ENVIRONMENT:
Prepare your sleeping environment to help you sleep better. Set the temperature and humidity to a comfortable level. Adjust the wind speed to a cosy level. Take measures to reduce noise – adjust the fan speed, the air conditioner speed, close windows to reduce external noise, use noise filtering earplugs etc. A dark room promotes good sleep – use an eye blinder, pull the curtains, shut the doors and windows etc. Use medium-firm bedding and a comfortable pillow. Washing bed covers, blankets, pillows, pillow covers, vacuum cleaning the mattress and spraying herbal pesticides are some ways of ensuring cleanliness and keeping away dust, dust mites, bed bugs and other insects. Optimising the sleep environment to the extent possible is the easiest way to sleep better.
#8 Avoid HEAVY MEALS at least 4 hours before going to bed:
Heavy meals prolong digestion. They may also cause acid reflux and indigestion making it uncomfortable to sleep. For better sleep, it's best to avoid heavy meals at least 4 hours before going to bed.
#9 Have a WARM SHOWER:
A warm shower before going to bed helps in relaxing the body. It temporarily increases the body temperature, which results in a faster cool down. As the body prepares for sleep, it starts cooling down, and that is where a warm shower helps. Studies have proved that warm showers reduce the time taken to fall asleep and increase total sleep time. Having a warm shower about 90 minutes before going to bed can help improve sleep.
#10 Avoid DAYTIME LONG NAPS:
Having long naps during the day can reduce night sleep time. Power naps are good but make sure that they stay short. Longer daytime naps disrupt night sleep physiology, make it difficult to sleep, and reduce sleep time. Avoid long day sleep hours for better sleep at night.
We hope the article helped understand the 10 proven tips for better sleep.