Tip 1: Blue Lights & Sleep
It has been reported that blue light emitted from screens directly correlates with a delayed sleep schedule.
Blue light is a type of visual light that emits at a wavelength of 380 to 500 nm. It is often emitted from screens such as smart phones, TVs and tablets and long-term exposure to it can affect your circadian rhythm.
A study was conducted where 2 groups of 14 healthy young adults aged 19-28 used blue light for 8 consecutive days. The results supported that blue light contributes to the slow build-up of sleep need, and circadian sensitivity.
So, for better sleep, it is recommended that you stay off your phone at night or use the night shift feature on your phone to reduce blue light emissions. Practice getting off your phone in the evening, and limiting your time scrolling through when you are in bed!
Tip 2: Establish a Routine
Did you know that your body’s circadian rhythms are aligned with the sunrise and sunset? This means that you should aim to wake up with the sunrise and go to sleep at sunset. Try to be consistent with your waking and sleeping times, as this is one of the best natural sleep aids. If you struggle with getting a good night’s sleep, try to get into the habit of waking and sleeping at the same times each day.
This can be achieved through practicing consistent and repetitive behavior to develop a routine and create a habit. If you can get into the habit of sleeping at the same time each day, noticing bedtime cues may start to trigger sleep. A study found that stability in daily sleep routines was related to higher sleep quality. In addition, the study found that setting a daily routine reduced the rates of insomnia in adults.
In addition to the benefits that setting a routine has on sleep, research has found that having a daily routine also helps to enhance overall well-being. After setting a daily routine, a study found that the routine was correlated to improved mental and physical health, social functioning, and muscle pain. Therefore, developing and maintaining a daily routine can have numerous positive effects on your overall health and well-being. These findings have important implications on the necessity to have lifestyle regularity in order to achieve a good night’s sleep.
Tip 3: Caffeine and Sleep
If you are an avid coffee drinker and have trouble falling asleep at night, you should try to eliminate caffeine consumption in the late afternoon. It has been determined that having a cup of coffee up to 6 hours before heading to bed can significantly worsen the quality of your sleep. Try to stop drinking coffee after 3 or 4 pm so that you give your body an opportunity to wind down!
How Does Caffeine Affect Your Sleep?
Caffeine is a widely used stimulant that has marked variations in behavioral responses amongst individuals. The consumption of caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter, called adenosine, that causes a stimulant effect. Caffeine acts as an antagonist to adenosine receptors, because adenosine is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. Hence, adenosine receptors are stimulated by caffeine so that you don’t feel sleepy. As a result, caffeine stimulates behavior responses which may include increased alertness, higher energy levels and enhanced physical fitness. Although there are numerous benefits of caffeine consumption, there are several adverse effects when it comes to sleep quality.
One of the most common adverse effects of caffeine is the disruptive effect that it has on your sleep quality. A study found that caffeine can actually delay your body clock. This means that caffeine can modify your body’s natural circadian rhythms, and keep you awake for longer periods of time. This can have an effect on both your total sleep time, and the amount of deep sleep that you endure. Try to limit your caffeine intake to about 300 – 400 mg per day so that the quality and quantity of your sleep is not compromised.
Tip 4: Exercise and Sleep
Regular and consistent exercise as a part of your daily routine can enhance your sleep duration and quality at nighttime.
Research has found that regular exercise increases the amount of time that you spend in deep sleep. Deep sleep is the sleep phase that is the most important for physical restoration. A good amount of deep sleep helps to boost immune functioning, support a healthy heart, and help to manage stress and anxiety. Research indicates that engaging in a good workout tires and fatigues your body, making it easier to fall asleep faster. This is because physical activity requires a large expenditure of energy, which makes you more tired and ready to rest by the end of the day.
Relieve Anxiety & Reduce Stress
Anxiety and stress are two common reasons why individuals often have trouble falling asleep at night. However, physical activity has been found to reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier to fall asleep. Exercise is crucial for proficient mental fitness. By getting in these 30 active minutes per day, research shows that a workout will reduce daily fatigue and stress, enhance alertness and concentration, and increase cognitive functioning. This is very helpful for when your stress and anxiety build up and deplete your concentration ability. For example, five minutes of aerobic exercise has been found to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Tip 5: Bathe To Relax
Using warm showers before bedtime is a great remedy for a better night’s sleep. This is because the warm water can help you relax. This is also because your body temperature drops after a warm bath which helps induce better sleep.
A study conducted at the University of Texas found that taking a 10- to 15-minute shower an hour before bedtime between 104-108.5 degrees Fahrenheit improved sleep quality and efficiency.
During the day, your body’s core temperature changes naturally according to your circadian rhythm. One of the main functions of your circadian rhythm is to help control your sleep-wake patterns. Your brain depends on your body temperature to either sleep or be awake. After sunset, your body temperature begins to slowly cool – which signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep. At this point, your brain releases melatonin and signals to the rest of your body that it is time to sleep. Taking a shower with warm water at night, helps assist the process of thermoregulation. After getting out of a warm shower, the water quickly evaporates from your skin which will cool you down and prepare you to sleep.
The beneficial effects of warm showers on your body’s thermoregulation process is just one of the several positive effects of taking a shower before bedtime. If you aren’t convinced yet to give this strategy a try, here are a few other benefits:
- Showers reduce your stress, and help you to relax both emotionally and physically. When you are feeling less stressed, it is significantly easier to fall asleep.
- Showering forces you to disconnect from technology. This gives you a chance to unplug and unwind, freeing up a few minutes to not watch Netflix or check Instagram. Having a nighttime shower is a time for you to relax and de-stress – just focus on the warm water pouring over you.
- If you hit the gym during the day, showering just before bed is essential for relaxing your overworked and fatigued muscles. It will also assist in preventing muscle spasms and cramping throughout the night.
- If your house is chaotic in the morning with everyone rushing to try to get into the bathroom, showering at night will save you some essential time. Since you showered the night before, you can use your morning to journal, meditate, chat with a loved one over your morning coffee, or catch an additional 20 minutes of snoozing. So, try showering at night so you can relax and take your time to unwind.
Tip 6: Ambience to Sleep
Your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm is affected by many factors, and an important factor that is often overlooked is temperature. When creating the ideal sleeping space, it is important to look at the room’s ambience as a whole including lighting, noise level and temperature. Sweating or shivering in bed can greatly affect your ability to sleep, and therefore it is important to find your ideal temperature to sleep.
However, it is a fighting battle to find the ideal temperature so as to not overheat or over-cool, which can both be disruptive to sleep. The WHO recommends a minimum air temperature of 18° in the bedroom, to create a cooler ambient temperature within the room, but allowing for the warmer, more comfortable micro-environment in the bed of 30°.
For those of you who struggle with overheating at night, use a fan to increase air flow within the room and set your thermostat to a cooler temperature. If the sun rises into your room, try to use heavier curtains to block out the heat and light from the sun to prevent your room from overheating in the morning. If you struggle with the opposite, try to utilize a space heater or a heavy, weighted blanket to keep yourself warm throughout the night.
Tip 7: Mindfulness to Sleep
Many struggle with shutting off their internal dialogue, especially before bed. An active mind can really hinder one’s ability to sleep. Feelings of restlessness, anxiety and frustration can keep a wandering mind awake at night.
In order to reduce your wandering mind at night- there are some items that you can depend on that are easy-to-find, reliable and most importantly, effective. For starters, looking for guided meditations on applications such as YouTube or Spotify can help you fall asleep. There are so many options available including bedtime stories, or breathing exercises that are catered to help you sleep. If you are willing to give applications a try, there are many applications available that provide users with new content related to bedtime stories or meditations to help you sleep.
Regardless of where your mindfulness practice comes from, hopefully clearing your mind before bed can help you drift into sleep.
Tip 8: Avoid Late Night Snacks
Do you find yourself craving a midnight snack? Do the 10 pm munchies hit you? If you do, don’t worry we get it. Unfortunately, late night snacking can have some negative impacts on our body, specifically our sleep habits.
The timing of a meal or snack does affect how your body stores these extra calories. This is because food is processed differently at different times of the day. This could be a result of the change in your body’s temperature, biochemical reactions, physical activity, hormone levels and absorption or digestion of food.
Research has shown that snacking on high carb or high sugar foods after dinner time, forces your body to convert these extra calories into stored body fat. These calories are stored as fat, and you become more likely to experience weight gain.
While asleep, your body needs to work on essential functions such as; muscle recovery, cell turnover, and enhancing immune functioning. The 7-8 hours that you sleep at night is the only chance in your day that your body has to completely focus on restoring these functions. Therefore, we shouldn’t force our body to use these crucial hours to digest your late night snack. The NIDDK recommends to stop snacking at least 2-3 hours before heading to sleep.
Research has demonstrated that eating prior to bedtime stimulates common issues such as acid reflux and indigestion, which makes it much harder to fall asleep. Dr. Dasgupta suggests that both acid reflux and indigestion cause small bodily arousals that prevent you from both falling asleep and getting into deeper sleep phases. This reduced sleep quality leaves many people feeling groggy and unrested in the morning.
Therefore, try to start reducing your snacking habits in the evening, eat a healthy and nutritious dinner so that you don’t find yourself craving food a few hours later!