How to Get Better Quality Sleep
Establish a Sleep Schedule
Establishing a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important steps a person can take to get better quality sleep. Setting a sleep schedule means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate the body’s internal clock and will work to improve the quality of your sleep.
Let’s dive into the details of how to get the most out of this habit:
Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time
Developing a healthy and consistent sleep schedule is one of the best strategies for achieving and maintaining quality sleep. When attempting to set a consistent sleep schedule, it is important to select a bedtime and wake-up time that allows you to get at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
Going to bed at the same time each night should become part of your nightly routine in order to help you form good habits. Try sticking with it even on weekends, when you may be tempted to stay up late or wake up later the next day. Having a consistent bedtime is essential for our bodies to regulate their internal clocks, which are responsible for regulating functions like hormones, body temperature and alertness levels throughout the day.
If you have trouble falling asleep or struggle with insomnia, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual every night until you find a bedtime that works for you. If your body becomes accustomed to waking up later on weekends, gradually adjust your wake-up time closer towards your weekday alarm in 15-minute increments until it’s back on track – this can help prevent Monday morning fatigue.
Finally, although it may seem tempting, avoid taking long naps during the day because they can interfere with nighttime sleep quality. If needed however, try taking short (no longer than 20 minutes) naps earlier in the afternoon in order maintain energy levels during the waking hours without disrupting nighttime sleeping patterns. An established sleep schedule should become as regular and natural as brushing your teeth before going to bed – give yourself permission make it happen!
Avoid naps during the day
Napping during the day can interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep at night. If it is absolutely necessary to take a nap, try to limit it to 30 minutes or less and take it mid-afternoon before 4:00 pm. Avoid napping late in the day as this could make it more difficult to fall asleep later that night.
Despite its obvious benefits, daytime napping cannot replace a full night of sleep and is not recommended as a regular substitute for adequate nighttime sleep.
Prepare for Bed
Getting high quality sleep each night is essential for staying healthy, mentally alert and productive throughout the day. Preparing for bed is essential to getting a good night’s sleep. It can involve winding down activities such as stretching, reading, journaling, listening to calming music or meditating.
Preparing for bed can also include making your environment more comfortable and removing any distractions. Let’s look at some ways to make your bedroom an ideal place to get a good night’s sleep:
Make your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment
Creating a comfortable and calming environment in your bedroom can help you to achieve a better night’s sleep. To make sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly and comfortable, here are some tips:
- Keep your bedroom temperature cool in the range of 18–21°C.
- Ensure that your bedroom is quiet, dark, and free from distractions – like electronics (TVs, smartphones).
- Keep strong smells to a minimum, be it from fragrances or laundry detergents.
- Make sure the mattress and pillows that you use are comfortable for you.
- Exercise regularly – stick to a routine exercise schedule with at least three to five days of physical activity per week. This will help minimize stress and calm the body at night time in order to get into sleep mode easily.
- Avoid caffeine before bedtime and don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day and before bedtime as well.
- Set yourself a good bedtime routine such as winding down with some reading or activities that help relax you before getting into bed.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
Caffeine and alcohol can both disrupt your sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that takes up to six hours to wear off and can prevent you from getting restful, restorative sleep. If you’re feeling sleepy in the afternoon or evening, drink caffeine-free beverages, such as herbal tea, rather than coffee or tea.
Similarly, alcohol interferes with your body’s natural mechanisms for falling asleep and staying asleep. Avoid both caffeine and alcohol within 3 – 4 hours of going to bed for the best sleep possible.
It is important to maintain an exercise routine when trying to improve your quality of sleep. Exercise helps to reduce stress, improve your overall physical health, and can even help you fall asleep faster. Participants in studies have reported improved sleep quantity and quality, along with reduced fatigue levels after engaging in regular aerobic activity for at least three months.
When looking for the most benefit from exercise, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity 3 days a week (or a combination of both). But even if you don’t reach these goals each week, as little as 10 minutes still provides health benefits! Engaging in aerobic or strength training activities should be avoided within 3 hours of bedtime as it can alert the body and make it more difficult to fall asleep. If possible, schedule your workout sessions early in the day and no later than 7 pm for optimal results.
Winding down before bed is an important part of getting better quality sleep. This means avoiding vigorous exercise and activities that are mentally stimulating. Instead, focus on doing things that are calming and relaxing such as:
- writing in a journal
- listening to peaceful music
Doing this will help prepare your body and mind for a deep, restful sleep.
Avoid screens before bed
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure a good night’s sleep is avoiding screens – like smartphones, televisions, and computers – for at least one hour before going to bed. The artificial light that’s emitted from our screens inhibits our body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in response to darkness and is what helps our brain and body transition into sleep mode.
Using screens too close to bedtime also makes it harder for us to stay focused on winding down for the night. Sitting in front of a bright screen can stimulate both the mind and body, making it more difficult for us to rest. Additionally, checking work emails or keeping up with social media can cause stress and distract from snuggling in for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Make an effort to either reduce or eliminate your screen time at least an hour before going to sleep so your brain has time to produce melatonin, your body can start calming down and you’ll be prepared for several hours of sweet dreams!
Listen to relaxing music or read a book
Sleep begins with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Eating healthy is key, as it helps regulate hormones to ensure a good night’s sleep. Regular exercise also helps overall, enabling longer stretches of sound sleep.
Another approach for better quality sleep is to listen to calming music or read a book before going to bed. Choosing low-key, relaxing tunes will help the body wind down and propel it into a deep state of restful sleep. Likewise, turning off digital devices an hour before bedtime can also help relax the mind and decrease anxiety before sleep onset.
In addition, reading an old-fashioned physical book or Kindle can ease your mind into drifting off to dreamland quicker than television or online videos can. Fiction books that don’t require too much mental effort are recommended if you are seeking relaxation over expanding your knowledge base through nonfiction works during this period of time; letting you become immersed in another world for awhile before continuing with your real one when rested up and raring to go!
Practice deep breathing or meditation
Practicing deep breathing or meditation before bed can help relax your mind and body, preparing you for sleep. One of the most popular and effective methods is through the practice of yoga nidra or “yogic sleep”.
This involves lying on your back in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and taking slow deep breaths for about 20-30 minutes. You will be guided by either a voice recording or instructor to go through each part of your body from head to toe and visualize them relaxing.
You can also light a candle or diffuse essential oils such as lavender or chamomile that have calming effects to help you unwind more quickly. If meditating isn’t for you, then just listening to calming music before bed can be beneficial as well. Lastly, it’s important not to forget about reading before bed too! Reading helps reduce tension, decrease stress level and emotional intensity – which are all crucial elements when it comes to getting better quality sleep.
Address Sleep Issues
Getting a good night’s rest is important for your overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get the quality sleep that they need. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s important to first address any underlying sleep issues that may be causing the problem.
In this section, let’s look at some tips and strategies to help you address and overcome your sleep issues:
Talk to a doctor if you have chronic insomnia
If you have difficulty falling or staying asleep, or wake up feeling unrefreshed on a regular basis, it’s important to speak with your doctor. In general, it is best to avoid sleeping pills and other pharmaceutical sleep aids as they can be habit-forming and come with potentially dangerous side effects. Instead, your doctor may urge you to make lifestyle changes in order to address the cause of your insomnia.
For example, he or she may recommend that you:
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule so that your body gets used to falling asleep at a certain time each night.
- Cut back on caffeine intake and avoid stimulating activities for several hours before bedtime.
- Limit the number of times that you check the clock throughout the night – this behavior has been proven to worsen insomnia symptoms in many people.
- If stress is a contributing factor to your sleeplessness, consider taking an anti-anxiety medication or trying cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
The most important thing is that you find a method or combination of methods that work for you so that you can finally break free from the cycle of poor sleep quality. Talking to a physician early on in the process can spell long term success in this regard since they can provide invaluable guidance and support along your journey toward better restorative sleep.
Try natural sleep aids such as melatonin
If you’re having trouble sleeping, one of the strategies that might help is using natural sleep aids such as melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in our bodies, which helps to regulate our sleep–wake cycle. It is very effective in promoting falling asleep and staying asleep.
Melatonin is available in pill form or liquid drops and should be taken about 30–60 minutes before bedtime for the best results. For people who have difficulty staying asleep through the night, taking a smaller dose at bedtime may also be beneficial. While it doesn’t work for everyone, melatonin has been found to be effective for improving sleep quality and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep.
It’s important to keep in mind that there can be potential side effects associated with taking melatonin, including vivid dreams and blurred vision. Before supplementing with melatonin, speak with your doctor or healthcare professional first to make sure it’s right for you and discuss the proper dosage.
Consider cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a specialized form of talk therapy developed specifically to address sleep issues. CBT-I is an evidenced based sleep disorder treatment and has been shown to be an effective way to address many common sleep problems, including insomnia.
CBT-I uses both cognitive and behavioral strategies to modify dysfunctional thoughts, beliefs and behaviors related to sleep issues. These strategies include teaching individuals how to recognize barriers that impede their efforts in achieving quality restful sleep, addressing any underlying mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, restructuring the individual’s relationship with their bedtime routine, as well as providing lifestyle advice. During the sessions, other tools may also be utilized such as biofeedback or recommended relaxation exercises like progressive muscle relaxation or mindfulness meditation.
The ultimate aim of CBT-I is for the individual to better manage their relationship with quality restful sleep, allowing them to develop a positive attitude about sleeping that can reduce or eliminate insomnia over time. If you are struggling with persistent difficulties sleeping despite trying various remedies and lifestyle changes on your own, consider visiting a professional therapist trained in CBT-I for specialized help in achieving your desired level of restful slumber.