Do you struggle to get a solid night’s sleep on a regular basis? So much so that is starting to have an effect on your mental or physical health? Perhaps you feel sluggish, have noticed weight gain, or feel unmotivated or unproductive as you go about your daily tasks?
You may not know this, but getting at least 7-9 hours of undisturbed sleep every single night is actually an extremely important part of our day to day lives and is imperative to ensuring that we stay as healthy as we possibly can.
Getting this key amount of quality sleep will help to keep you and your body healthier, happier and in all round better shape. There are many different steps you can take to ensure that you have a healthy relationship with sleep.
We spend around one third of our entire lives asleep, yet many people are not getting enough sleep. A lot of the time, this is because our hectic lives and busy schedules get in the way of us taking the necessary steps to ensuring we are doing everything we can to maintain a good, healthy and balanced sleep hygiene routine.
Check out our article on sleep hygiene, and read about how you can transform your sleep by just changing a few simple things in your daily and nightly routines.
Why Sleep Hygiene Matters
Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and steps we can take in our daily lives to ensure we have an improved and better quality night’s sleep, and also more alertness during the day.
It is really important to practice such habits because an improved sleep hygiene regime can make an overwhelming difference to your quality of life. Not only can following our tips and tricks improve your quality of sleep, but utilizing them on a regular basis can improve other areas of your life such as your productivity, alertness and energy levels.
If you do not correctly practice correct sleep hygiene, then your sleep quality will continue to diminish and your quality of life will suffer. Lack of sleep, or sleep deprivation, can lead to serious health problems down the line.
The list of issues you could see crop up can include the likes of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cardiac issues, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. It can also lead to a huge decrease in productivity, trouble concentrating, slower brain response, difficulty learning, irritability and moodiness. Who wants a life full of these things?
Although you may believe that you are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night, if you are engaging in disruptive habits during the day, and not correctly winding down in the evening, then you quality of sleep will suffer. Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to sleep.
The best way to improve your sleep hygiene is to start by looking at your personal habits, and altering them gradually. A good way to do this is by following our sleep hygiene tips below.
Start by picking up one to two habits, and return to this article once a week to add another tip to your routine. Do not try to incorporate every tip right away, because you could find yourself overwhelmed and not completing each step correctly.
And luckily for you, we have compiled a list of 10 of the best ways to be certain you are getting the amount of quality sleep your body so greatly craves and deserves. Check it out below:
How To Use Our Tips
Getting a good night’s sleep every night is something that many of us really struggle with on a regular basis, and this amount of sleep loss has been proven to affect our wellbeing in many, many ways. In fact, a regular lack of sleep can actually cause a whole lot of issues that can be detrimental to our health including obesity, diabetes and irritability.
And, it can even lead to severe mental health issues including the likes of depression and anxiety. By, utilizing our 10 amazing tips you can prevent or prohibit such problems from occurring, or lessen their effects if perhaps you are already suffering. Making use of the tips every single day can gradually start to improve your quality of sleep and life in a great way.
It will be super important for you to save this article, or keep coming back to refer to it on a regular basis, so that you can add one or two of the ten incredible tips to your routine every single week. Don’t try to jump in head first and start using all 10 tips right away.
This could lead you to feeling overwhelmed with the change in routine, and could make you more likely to give up without really giving it a shot. Start by utilizing one or two for around a week, and then add another one to two the following week. And so on and so on until you feel like you can begin to handle more.
Eventually incorporating these tips into your life won’t feel like work, and will instead become a natural part of your routine. The more tips you can take on board and add into your daily routine, the more likely you will find yourself sleeping better. If you improve your sleep, you will really start to notice how much better you feel on a day to day basis.
During The Day
1. Don’t Take Daytime Naps Longer than 30 Minutes
With our busy schedules and hectic day to day lives, we are bound to feel sleepy during the day from time to time. A lot of people experience a bout of sleepiness in the afternoon, from around 1pm to 3pm.
This is because of our circadian rhythms, our bodies natural body clock, which tends to experience a bit of a lull in the early afternoon. Whether you decide to have a nap during this time or not, your circadian rhythm will power up again and your sleepiness with subside until bedtime.
If we do give in to the afternoon nap though, a nap from between 15-30 minutes is plenty long enough. This amount of time is just enough to freshen up and continue our day, without affecting our sleep that night.
Anything longer than 30 minutes is known as prolonged sleep, and this can increase the chances of insomnia or trouble sleeping that evening. Try to limit your daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes in order to keep your sleep hygiene at a good level.
2. Do Plenty of Exercise
Incorporating a healthy amount of exercise into your daily routine can make a great difference to the way you sleep at night. If you currently don’t do any exercise at all, then start by adding a 20 minute light walk into your day to get yourself moving.
Slowly add to this by turning it into a light jog or run. A healthy amount of exercise would look something like 30 minutes of cardio or training at least 3 times a week. However, it is important to remember that timing is key when it comes to exercise and sleep.
Try to exercise earlier in the day, rather than late at night. Exercising late at night can increase your alertness and make it harder to fall asleep. Doing exercise can help to regulate and balance your body’s daily rhythm.
3. Don’t Eat Dinner Late
Eating dinner late at night can increase your alertness because your body will be working hard to break down and digest the food, which can often keep you awake.
Plenty of foods contain a substance called tyramine, which increases the production of noradrenaline.
Noradrenaline keeps you awake because it boosts your brain activity. Some of the foods that contain tyramine include cheese, bacon, cured or smoked meats, chocolate, potatoes, soy products, spinach, tomato and sausages. Spicy foods are also a big no-no before bedtime.
This is because they can cause acid reflux which will make it harder to fall and stay asleep.It is also really important to try to eat healthy throughout the day.
Foods that are high in fat, processed foods or foods high in carbs are difficult to break down, and they don’t have any key nutrients or vitamins that help to keep your energy levels up during the day. They can actually have the opposite effect, and make you feel sluggish and tired in the middle of the day.
Preparing For Bed
1. Set Up Your Bedroom Correctly
Your bedroom set up can, in fact, have a huge affect on your overall quality of sleep. This is perhaps one of the most important factors of sleep hygiene. Setting up your bedroom ‘correctly’ includes making sure you are using the right source of light.
Try switching your bulbs to ones that do not emit blue light and use black-out blinds or curtains to keep natural light at a minimum during the night.
As well as ensuring your light is set up well, you should also try to manage the temperature of your bedroom. An optimal temperature for adults to sleep in is between 60-69 Fahrenheit (15-24 Celsius).
If we are too hot or too cold, it can be difficult to fall into a deep, comfortable sleep and our bodies will struggle to help regulate it. Open windows or use fans in the summer, and manage the radiators or heating in the winter to keep between these temperatures.
2. Avoid Caffeine Near Bedtime
Caffeine is a high stimulant which can increase your alertness and heart-rate, which is why it is no wonder why you should not enjoy a cup of coffee, or any other form of caffeine, before you try to go to bed. In fact, research shows that even afternoon caffeine can play a part in hindering your nightly sleep.
If possible, try to cut out caffeine around 6 hours before you plan to go to bed. If you feel like you need a caffeinated drink mid-afternoon and really can’t shake the habit, then try taking 1000-2000 mg of Vitamin C along with it, as this will help the caffeine substance to leave your body more quickly.
The same goes for nicotine. It is best to avoid smoking close to bedtime because nicotine is another stimulant that will keep your brain activity pumping.
Research shows that those who smoke more regularly, and closer to bedtime, engage in a higher amount of light sleep, and a lower amount of deep sleep, meaning they will wake up less refreshed and more sleepy in the morning. Both caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime will affect your quality and quantity of sleep, and can even lead to insomnia.
3. Go To Bed At The Same Time
Sometimes life can get in the way of us keeping to a strict routine. Perhaps we had to stay late at work, or play a sport in the evenings once a week. Even though we can live very busy lives, it is still important that we try to stick to a specific bedtime as much as we possibly can.
Going to bed at the same time every night can help you to get into a sleeping routine, which can lead you to feeling better during the day.
When we go to sleep at the same time, it helps our body clock to set and maintain consistency, and helps keep our circadian rhythm in check. Give it a go, we’re sure you will notice a positive difference.
4. Use a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow
This tip is an add on from the ‘set up your bedroom correctly’ tip. It is really, really important that you have a good quality surface to sleep on. If you are not comfortable or not being supported well, then you will certainly struggle with getting adequate sleep every night.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on this either. We suggest looking for mattresses and pillows that are hypoallergenic which are often made from latex, gel foam or memory foam. These will keep your pillow or mattress from gathering dust mites which can lead to allergies or irritation during the night.
In addition, make sure you are using a pillow that supports your neck and helps to properly align your spine. This will save any discomfort, pain or pressure from building up which can disturb your sleep.
Also, keep in mind that most mattresses need replacing after a while. Many people believe that you must replace your mattress every 8-10 years, but actually it depends very much on what mattress you have. The mattress options available on the market are endless, and each product is different.
Check your manufacturer’s recommendations, and listen to your body. You may start to feel that your mattress needs to be changed, your sleep deprived body might just tell you!
5. Limit Screen Time Before Bed
Screens from the likes of TVs, computers, tablets, phones and laptops emit out blue light which stimulates your mind and inhibits the production of melatonin, which in turn can prevent your brain from winding down ready for sleep.
It would be best to avoid using such electronics at least 90 minutes before you plan on going to bed. If you really must use one of these items before bed then try using a filter than prohibits the blue light from being emitted into your eyes.
It may even be a good idea to keep these electronics out of the bedroom altogether. This is because when you associate your bedroom only with sleep (and sex), then you are more likely to be able to fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep longer.
When you use devices late at night, you increase your temptation. Temptation to ‘read one more paragraph’ of an article, ‘watch one more episode’ of a sitcom, or ‘play one more game’ of your favorite game. In order to rid temptation altogether, then going to bed without such distractions will be a massive help.
6. Don’t Drink Alcohol
Drinking alcohol late at night can prohibit the quality of REM sleep, and should be avoided totally before sleep. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not help you get a better night’s sleep.
Although yes, it can help to make you feel drowsy and sleepy, it has the reverse effect when you are actually in the process of sleeping. This is because once the alcohol is metabolized, your body goes through a period of arousal, which will keep you awake or prohibit you from getting the quality sleep you need to feel refreshed and motivated in the morning.
In The Morning
Jump Start Your Body
Many of us use a loud and harsh alarm to wake up in the morning, and a lot of the time this can make you feel irritated or alerted perhaps too quickly. The best way to jump start your body in the morning is to:
- Use a wake up light which will help your body to wake up more naturally.
- Stretch to reduce muscle tightness and tension.
- Rehydrate with a large glass of water.
- Have a warm shower that is finished by a cold splash to close your pores.
If you still feel as though you must set an alarm to wake up in the morning, then perhaps try putting your alarm somewhere where you can’t reach it. That way you will have to get up to turn it off.
Going back to sleep after your alarm wakes you up, even for just a few minutes, can make you feel more tired and more sluggish than if you were to get up right away. Try waking up with a wake up light and alarm, and you should notice that by the time your alarm goes off, you are feeling more awake and raring to go than when you rely solely on your alarm to wake you.
Once you have got up, the first thing you should do is drink at least 16 oz (500ml) of water. When you sleep from 7-9 hours, your body becomes dehydrated. Drinking water first thing in the morning is a really great way of waking up your mind and body, and kicking yourself into gear for the day ahead.
Water in the morning not only boosts your rate of metabolism for the day ahead, but it also helps to flush out toxins that have built up overnight. You should feel much healthier and ready to go afterwards. The morning water also helps to give your brain the fuel it needs to be productive and motivated.
It has even been said that drinking water in the morning can help you to be less inclined to overeat throughout the day. Give it a go and see how you feel!
Making Rules To Sleep Healthy
1. Routine is Key
Let’s face it, it’s just too easy to keep binge-watching the last few episodes of your favourite show on Netflix. Even when it is already 2 am and you need to commute to work or university for a long day the next morning! Sometimes these guilty pleasures just make it too hard to maintain good quality of sleep throughout a busy work or study week.
Sticking to a regular routine is absolutely imperative to your quality of sleep. Even if your cravings take an upper hand at times, you still need to teach your body how to wind down at a certain time every night.
Once you spend a couple of weeks with a stable routine, your body has a chance to adapt to the new “schedule” and you will feel sleepy naturally at a certain time, every day. Try showering and getting ready for bed at the same time every single night.
Having a stable routine throughout the week helps your body clock to programme itself to understand when it is time to go to sleep, and also helps your body to stay asleep throughout the night.
2. Exercise Regularly
After a long day at work, school or whatever it is that keeps you busy on a day to day basis, the last thing many of us feel like doing is dragging ourselves to the gym or out to exercise in the evenings.
The same goes for early mornings, when we all know we would much rather spend that extra 30 or so minutes in bed, catching up on sleep. Our minds often tell us that we’re too hungry, too tired, or simply do not have the time to exercise that day, and so we don’t do it.
However, exercise is absolutely one of the most important aspects of our lives as it really helps us to maintain a healthy body, as well as assists with better quality of sleep at night. An easy way to incorporate exercise into our routines is to just add it in slowly and gradually.
Start with half an hour of exercise 3-4 times a week. Even if it is a dog walk or a jog around your neighborhood, anything is better than nothing. Then slowly increase your exercise intensity or amount of time, until working out just becomes part of your life, rather than a forced part of your life.
Once you get into a solid routine of working out 3-4 per week, you might find it that you start to enjoy it, motivation will come naturally and it won’t feel like such a chore. You don’t have to hate it either. If you hate running, then try cycling. If you hate cycling then try a gym class. There is bound to be something that you can enjoy at least to an extent!
Adding exercise to your life will help you to sleep much better on a regular basis because your body is more fatigued and needs this quality time to rejuvenate. It will keep both your mental and physical wellbeing in check too.
4. Sleep on a Suitable Mattress & Pillow
You may not even realise that eliminating your sleeping struggle could be as simple as changing your mattress and pillow. If you are sleeping on a mattress or pillow that is not suitable for your sleeping style and or weight, then you could be lowering your quality of sleep without even realising it.
Purchasing a mattress and/or pillow that provides you with adequate support, spinal alignment, comfort and breathability is important to getting the sleep you deserve, and will help to rid your body of sleep related aches and pains, pressure points, snoring and even headaches.
If you find yourself waking up feeling uncomfortable or are tossing and turning throughout the nightthen this probably applies to you.
Reviewing your mattress and pillow will mean replacing it with a proper supportive one. This will allow you to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and feel better with your sleep every night.
5. Utilise Light Correctly
In the summer we often go to bed later and wake up earlier because the natural sunlight seeps into our rooms and wakens our senses. In the winter, you are more inclined to get into bed earlier and find it a struggle to wake up on time because it is darker outside.
A good way to overcome feeling sluggish in the morning, especially in the winter, is to expose yourself to natural light as soon as you wake up. So when you do roll out of bed and are ready to start your day, open the curtains and eat your breakfast or drink your coffee next to the window, or even outside if you can.
It might make you feel less tired and more ready to get on with your day. The other way to utilize light correctly is to avoid bright screens including phones, TVs and laptops in the hour before sleep.
Avoiding bright lights before bed will help your body to wind down naturally and feel more tired, making you get a better nights sleep. And exposing yourself to natural light in the morning will make you feel more awake and prepared for the day ahead.
6. Eat Dinner Earlie
I know what it’s like, when you’ve just got home after a long day of tiring activities, and all you want to do is sit down on the sofa, put the TV on and your feet up and just give yourself a little bit of chill time before having to get up again and make dinner for the evening.
But delaying making dinner and eating late into the evening can actually impact the quality of sleep you get at night. Why? Because by the time you go to bed, your body is still very active digesting the food you’ve just consumed.
A good way to ensure you are able to eat at a reasonable time (preferably by 7pm latest) is to not give yourself a chance to ‘chill’ before making your food. Come in from whatever you have been doing and make it right away.
You can then relax for longer afterwards and give yourself a chance to wind down. Another good way to eat earlier is to plan (or even prep) your meals. Planning ahead means you are one step of ahead of having to think about what you are going to make and what ingredients you need.
Eating dinner earlier will help you get into a routine and can also allow your body to relax after it has digested your food. You will then naturally start to wind down and get tired. When you do eventually get into bed for the night your body will have finished its job and you have a better chance of falling asleep quicker and for for longer.
7. Avoid Alcohol at Nighttime
Another thing many of us like to do in the evenings after a tiring day is to sit down with an ice cold beer or a chilled glass of wine. Sometimes there’s nothing better to help your relax. But, consuming alcohol in any quantity is likely to impact the way you sleep that night.
Even just one or two glasses of alcohol can disturb your sleeping pattern (even if you do not notice it) which can lead you to feeling lethargic or weary the next day. Instead, opt for something more plain like water or juice if you are thirsty, or try a cup of decaffeinated tea to help you relax.
What’s more, is that lessening your alcohol intake can also have a positive impact on your weight, your overall health. It might just be what you need to help you stay in a deeper and more meaningful sleep for longer each night.
8. Have a Bedtime Ritual
We are all guilty of staying up too late watching TV, or sitting on our phones scrolling when we should be sleeping. And when we aren’t set in a routine, it can be really easy to go to bed at 10pm one night, and 1am the next. This is obviously not good for our sleeping pattern.
As with having a routine set, as we mentioned earlier, having a bedtime ritual is important to. Perhaps it’s meditating for 10 minutes before hitting the pillow, or maybe you’d prefer to read a book in bed for 30 minutes.
Whatever it is, make sure its soothing, relaxing and non-strenuous so that your body can relax along with your mind. Practicing a bedtime ritual will allow your body to unwind, relax and fall into a deeper sleep in a faster manner.
9. Clear Clutter
When we are so busy in our day to day lives, we can often find that our living space can become messy, cluttered and can turn into a non-relaxing environment.
Solving this issue is as simple as taking 10 minutes a day to ensure clothes are put away, surfaces and the floor is clear of any ‘stuff’. If you stick to doing this for just as little as 10 minutes every single day, then it won’t seem like a big or time consuming task that gets put off for days on end.
Keeping your bedroom clutter free is super important because it will allow your mind to relax more easily, which means you will be able to get to sleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
10. Only Use Bed for Sleeping
We can all be guilty of bringing our laptops, extra work, or phones to bed to do some of our daily tasks in a more comfortable environment. However, this is a very bad idea and one that we should try to avoid at all costs!
If you start to associate things other than sleep with your bed, then you will automatically find it harder to fall asleep. You can avoid this issue by completely omitting other activities from happening in your bedroom.
The only activity you should have in your bed is sleep (or sex) and keeping to this will ensure that when it comes time for bed, your body knows that it’s finally time to sleep.
11. Wake Up At the Same Time
On our days where we don’t have work, school or other responsibilities, it can seem overwhelmingly tempting to want to sleep in until much later in the day. When we have to get up for things, we often feel tired when it is early, so we count down until when we can have that extra bit of morning sleep.
But this won’t help your struggle with sleep.Instead of wanting for a lie in, you need to always get up at the same time every morning, whether you have a day off or even if you are on vacation.
The difference here is that instead of rushing to get ready for a busy day, you can gradually wake yourself up with a relaxing cup of tea or a slow and steady breakfast before you start your day.
Keeping consistent with your wake up time can help your body clock to set, which in turn, will help you sleep at night when you need to.
To Sum It Up
In conclusion, if you struggle with feeling lethargic, unmotivated, unhealthy or if you have noticed weight gain, illness, pain, or any type of mental health issue, then you might gain significant benefits from taking on our 10 top tips for healthy sleeping.
If you start adding some of our tips gradually, you could quickly be amazed at the difference made to your daily life and your mental and physical health.
And that’s a wrap! These important tips are to help transform the way you sleep every single night, and they may also transform the positivity (and productivity) of your day-to-day life, too.
Getting sleep in both quality and quantity is so important to keep us happy, healthy and motivated. The best way to ensure your sleep hygiene is up to scratch, is to start by incorporating 1-2 of our top tips into your daily routines. After a week or so of trying 1-2 tips, look at using another one and then another.
You may notice that your new habits take some getting used to, and that it may take several days or weeks before you notice a difference in your health or sleep quality. It will be important to keep coming back to this article to add new tips into your life until you have successfully added as many as you can into your routine.
Once you take on board our sleep hygiene tips, we hope you that will enjoy better night’s sleep and more productive days.
We really hope that you will feel more spring in your step, a happier and clearer mind and more energy when completing daily tasks very soon. Good luck and happy sleeping!