Even though sleep is one of the resources the human body cannot live without, many people don’t acknowledge how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Often times, getting by on a few hours of sleep is considered something to brag about.
Experts recommend a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night as part of a healthy lifestyle. Getting an adequate amount of sleep can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. Sometimes, even when you go to bed on time and make an effort to get a full night of rest, you may have trouble falling asleep and then staying asleep. If you find yourself in bed struggling to sleep, try these seven tips that will help you sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
- Exercise: Research shows that as little as ten minutes of exercise a day can improve the quality of your sleep. Brisk exercise such as walking, aerobics, cycling, or running helps to reduce stress and promotes deeper and longer sleep. Just be sure to get your workout done in the morning or afternoon. Exercising too close to your bedtime will raise your body temperature, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Limit Caffeine: Although caffeine has many positive effects, it can be disruptive to your sleep. You should limit your intake to no more than 400 mg a day. This is equivalent to four 8 ounce cups of coffee. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and especially during the evening hours. Remember that caffeine isn’t just found in coffee. Don’t forget to limit your intake of soda and other caffeinated products throughout the day.
- Watch What You Eat: Eating too much or too little can cause an upset stomach that will disturb your sleep. It’s best to eat dinner early in the evening, at least two to three hours before bedtime, so your body is finished digesting before you try to fall asleep. After dinner, limit how much you drink or you will wake up having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. If you find you wake up hungry during the night, try a small snack of carbohydrates and protein, such as apple slices with peanut butter, cheese and crackers, or yogurt with a banana.
- Turn Off the Lights: Your biological clock responds to light and dark signals. When your eyes sense light, your body interprets that as a sign that it’s time to be awake. For quality sleep, make your room as dark as possible. Turn off all the lights and block out light from the street with blackout curtains. If you need a nightlight for midnight trips to the bathroom, use one that is motion activated. Don’t forget to turn off your electronics – even though their glow may be soft, it can pass through your eyelids.
- Eliminate Noise: Nothing ruins a good sleep like the beeping from a cell phone. Put your phone and tablet on silent for the night. Turn on a fan or use a noise machine to create white noise that will drown out any ambient noise you can’t control. For louder situations, consider using a set of ear plugs.
- Change the Temperature: Your body’s core temperature drops during sleep and doesn’t rise again until the end of your sleep cycle. Setting the thermostat in the range of 65 to 69 degrees helps your body reach its ideal sleep temperature.
- Set a Schedule: A regular routine helps your body to know when it should be sleeping and when it should be awake. Pick a bedtime and a wake-up time that you can stick with every day of the week, including weekends. This will help set your internal clock.
Changing your habits isn’t always easy to do. Begin by implementing one or two of these tips at a time. Once they become part of your routine, add a few more. Gradually you should find yourself falling asleep faster and the quality of your sleep will improve. As this happens you will find you wake up with more energy and are enjoying a better quality of life.
About the Author - Julie Hackett from South Carolina
Julie Hackett is a health and wellness coach based in Hilton Head, South Carolina. She believes that fitness is not about a particular diet or strict exercise regime. Her coaching philosophy is to help people find their unique path to a healthier, active life. As a triathlete, she is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and helping others on their journey to a better life.