10 proven tips for BETTER SLEEP.
Updated: Apr 8
In a lifetime, we spend about 26 years sleeping and around 7 years just trying to sleep. Sleep is crucial for survival and performance. We can survive longer without food and water than without sleep. In a nights 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. Let us look at 10 proven tips for better sleep.
#1 Relax before bedtime:
Relaxing before going to bed prepares our body 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. For better sleep, reserve about 15 to 30 minutes for relaxation before going to bed.
#2 Have a consistent time to go to bed and wake up:
Having a consistent time to go to bed and to wake up helps with increasing sleep quality. Our body’s circadian rhythm is aligned to sunrise and sunset and inconsistent sleep timing negatively impacts sleep quality by altering melatonin production (melatonin is a hormone released by our body and is associated with sleep-wake cycles). Try waking up naturally without an alarm. It will be difficult initially but will get 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. Our body falls asleep more easily if we are tired. Several studies have established a positive link between exercise and sleep quality. It is important not to exercise just before going to bed as it may keep us from falling asleep. Have a wholesome diet and make sure to get quality micronutrients. Regular exercise along with a nutritious diet promotes better sleep.
#4 Get enough sunlight during the day:
Sunlight helps with maintaining the circadian rhythm (circadian rhythm is our body’s bio clock). The circadian rhythm helps in signalling the body when to fall asleep and when to stay awake. Make sure 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. When exposed to sunlight, our body releases a hormone called serotonin that helps us stay focused and calm. In the absence of light, our body releases melatonin which helps us sleep better. 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 blog the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Due to less or no release of melatonin, it takes longer to sleep. To help sleep better, it is advisable to avoid blue light after sunset.
#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, if taken after sunset, it disrupts sleep. 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 sleep 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 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 a medium-firm bedding and a comfortable pillow. Washing bed covers, blankets, pillows, pillow covers and vacuum cleaning the mattress, spraying herbal pesticides are some of the ways of ensuring cleanliness and keeping away dust, dust mites, bed bugs and other insects. Optimising sleep environment to the extent it is 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 help 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 day time long naps:
Having long naps during the day can reduce the total sleep time at night. Power naps are good but make sure that they stay short. Longer daytime naps disrupt night sleep physiology and may make it difficult to sleep and also reduce the total sleep time. Avoid long day sleep hours for better sleep at night.
Now we know the 10 proven ways for better sleep.