Sleep can be a precious commodity, and if you’re not getting enough it can have serious consequences. In this article, we’ll provide you with some tips to help improve your sleep habits so that you can feel refreshed and alert during the day. From calming music to comfortable bedding, we’ve got everything you need to get a good night’s sleep.
1. Create a comfortable sleep environment
When you’re uncomfortable, falling asleep can be almost impossible. You should create a comfortable sleep environment for yourself. And the two important factors that most people often overlook are:
- Their pillow
- Their mattress
While you need to try different types of mattresses to find the right one, I do have a recommendation for a pillow: a contour pillow.
Unlike regular pillows, it has the following benefits:
- Matches the contour of your neck: the ergonomic shape of the pillow fits the curve of your neck so that you experience minimum discomfort while sleeping.
- Made from high-density foam: the viscoelastic foam molds to the shape of your neck when you lie down on the pillow, improving support to your neck and surrounding area.
- Hypoallergenic: this was a main factor for me because I’ve allergies, which when triggered can keep me awake the whole night. Memory foam is completely hypoallergenic, so it’s great for allergy sensitive people.
Find more about contour pillows.
2. Increase your exposure to sunlight to help your circadian rhythm keep track of time.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, exposure to natural light in the morning is an important step in helping regulate your circadian rhythm, which helps control daily activities such as sleep and eating. By getting sunlight exposure in the morning, you will help set your body’s internal clock and improve your overall sleep quality.
Since your circadian rhythm is responsible for triggering the release of melatonin – the sleep hormone – you need to ensure that you’re getting enough exposure to sunlight to keep your circadian rhythm functioning properly.
3. Reduce exposure to blue light from smartphones and monitors
The light that we can see has various colors. Of these, the blue light has the greatest impact on our wakefulness. The blue light from the smartphone fools our brain into thinking that it’s still daytime, so instead of releasing melatonin, the brain increases alertness.
Here are some tips to reduce the impact of bluelight on your sleep:
- Turn off your smartphone screen at least an hour before bedtime to reduce exposure to blue light.
- Use a blue light filter on your device if you need to stay up late and work on a project.
- Adjust the brightness on your monitor and switch to an orange or red light when working late into the night.
4. Don’t consume caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime
To improve your sleep, you need to limit your consumption of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that causes the brain to stay awake for longer periods of time. If you are trying to get enough sleep, you should avoid consuming caffeine before bedtime.
Stimulants basically increase your alertness. Apart from increasing alertness, caffeine blocks the receptors for adenosine, which makes you tired and sleepy.
Caffeine has a half life of around 6 hours. So if you consume a cup of coffee with 100mg of caffeine, after 6 hours, your body will still have 50mg of caffeine. Such a high amount of caffeine is enough to keep you awake.
Note: if you take stimulant medications, then consume them in a way that doesn’t impact your sleep. You can talk to your doctor about the same.
5. Reduce or eliminate taking long naps. Limit naps to less than 30 minutes.
Naps that are longer than 30 minutes are generally not beneficial and can actually have the opposite effect. By decreasing drowsiness too much, long naps can interfere with your sleep.
Instead, try to take shorter naps that will help you get the most out of your sleep. A good rule of thumb is to limit naps to less than 30 minutes. In fact, power naps – a popular napping technique – are only 25 minutes long.
6. Sleep and wake up at same times so that your body gets used to your sleep schedule
This again comes to your circadian rhythm. When you sleep at the same time everyday, your body builds a habit of releasing the sleep hormone melatonin at the same time every day.
You can further reinforce this schedule by creating a night routine that includes tasks such as:
- Meditation to deal with stress
- Light stretching to ease the tension in your muscles
- Journaling to deal with repetitive thoughts
- Reading a book to wind down after a long day
I hope that the tips in this list improve your sleep. I’ve dealt with insomnia, and it causes a host of other mental and physical problems such as depression, anxiety, and excessive daytime sleepiness. And definitely check out the pillow I mentioned in the first tip because comfort is the best cure for sleeplessness.