Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important for our health and wellbeing as having a healthy diet and getting regualr exercise.
Research has shown that poor sleep can have immediate negative effects on exercise performance, hormone levels and brain function.
Good sleep on the other hand, can help improve exercise performance, help you eat less and be generaly healthier.
Here are 5 tips to help you sleep better at night.
1. Control your light exposure.
Studies have shown that increasing your exposure to bright light during the day can have a positive effect on the quality of your sleep. These studies have mainly focused on people with severe sleep issues, but should also help improve your sleep if you have only moderate sleep problems.
The reason bright light exposure helps with sleep is becasue it helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. Circadian rhythm is also known as your body clock. This helps both night time sleep quality as well as daytime energy levels.
Conversely, reducing blue light exposure in the evening is also known to be beneficial to sleep. Blue light is emmited from electronic devices such as smartphones and computers. It has been shown to negatively effect your circadian rhythm by tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This has an impact on hormone production and means certain relaxing hormones such as melatonin are reduced.
The best way of reducing the impact of blue light is to stop watching TV and turn off bright lights about 2 hours before going to bed.
2. Reduce caffeine intake late in the day.
Caffiene is known to have benefits such as increasing energy, focus and even sports performance. Unfortunately these energy boosting properties make it the enemy of good sleep. In one study it was shown consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed had a significant impact on sleep quality.
Caffeine has been shown to stay at elevated levels in the blood for upto 8 hours. Therefore caffeine intake after mid-afternoon is not recommended, especially if you are already having trouble sleeping.
3. Be consistent.
Your body’s circadian rhythm works in a set loop, aligning roughly with the sunrise and sunset. Becasue of this it is advisable to try and go to sleep and wake up at consistent times. It is tempting to go to bed and wake up later on the weekends, however studies have shown that those who have irregualr sleeping paterns and who go to bed later on the weekends have a lower quality of sleep.
4. Get the temperature right.
Body temperature has a massive impact on sleep quality. When it is too warm it can be very difficult to get to sleep, this is a problem that most people, even those that don’t normaly suffer from sleep problems, experience during the summer. Keeping your room at a constant temperature of around 70 degrees farenheit, or 20 degrees celcius, year round will help you sleep better.
Instead of spending the last couple of hours before bed watching TV or spending time on your phones, it is advisable to spend some time relaxing each evening. Relaxing activities such as reading a book or taking a relaxing bath can lower your heart rate which is known to help you drift off into a deep sleep. Even if you don’t feel like taking a full bath before bed, you could try just bathing you feet in warm water.
Other techniques such as deep breathing and vizulization can also help you relax.
Sleep plays such a big role in our health that it should be made top priority if you wish to be in the best health you can be.