Have you been having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? In search of more restful slumber, most people turn to sleep medications. While most of the hypnotic sleep medications are effective at inducing sleep, studies have revealed that some of these drugs can have undesirable side effects. You don’t need to shun sleep aids if you really need them, but before you fall back on sleep medications, try these tips and tricks to help you sleep better at night:
1. Get in Sync with your Circadian Rhythm
If you tend to feel drowsy or sleepy around the same time every night, you have your circadian rhythm to thank. The circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep/wake cycle, is generally a 24- hour internal clock that runs in the background of your brain (hypothalamus) and cycles between alertness and sleepiness at regular intervals.
Just like many other bodily functions, the circadian rhythm tends to change with age. As you get older, you may not have the same sleep/wake cycle as you did when you were a child.
There are other things that can disrupt your circadian rhythm, such as daytime napping, nighttime TV watching, and use of electronic gadgets (laptops, tablets, and smartphones) while in bed, etc. One of the strategies that are guaranteed to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer is getting in sync with your circadian rhythm. Your sleep/wake cycle will work best once you stick to a sleep schedule of going to bed at night and waking up in the morning around the same time every day. The more you pay attention to feelings of drowsiness and alertness, the easier it will be for you to develop good sleep hygiene habits, and the better your sleep will be.
2. Transform your Bedroom into a Conducive Sleep Environment
At times, even small changes to your bedroom can make a huge difference in your quality of sleep. So, you need to evaluate your bedroom and establish the conditions you need for sleep. The following are the steps to take to transform your bedroom into a conducive sleep environment:
● Keep your room cool
Both high temperature and cold temperature can interfere with sleep. Therefore, your bedroom should neither be too hot nor too cold. For you to have quality sleep, your bedroom must be cool, ideally 65 0 F or 18 0 C. You can consider investing in a fan or an HVAC system to keep the temperature levels in your bedroom cool.
● Soundproof your bedroom
Whether the noise comes from your snoring partner, boisterous neighbors, or loud traffic, it can be difficult to fall or stay asleep in a noisy environment. If you can’t avoid or eradicate noise that comes from other people in your household or neighborhood, you can soundproof your bedroom or mask the noise with a sound machine. Earplugs might also come in handy.
● Keep your bedroom dark
Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. There are many aspects of modern that can influence your body’s production of this hormone, and light exposure is one of them. The brain secretes less melatonin during the day, making you more alert. During the night, there’s more secretion of melatonin, which makes you sleepy. To promote sleep, you should keep your bedroom dark. You can consider investing in blackout curtains and eye shades.
● Make your bed comfortable
The people from Pajamas in Peace suggest that you’ll find it hard to stay asleep if your bed is not comfortable and if you don’t have good pajamas. To avoid waking up in the middle of the night with a sore back, you need to invest in a good bed and a high-quality mattress. You also need to add comfy pillows to prevent sleep interruptions due to an aching neck. You should also have cozy sheets, blankets, and bed covers. Check out MyBestMattress for best rated sleeping essentials.
3. Commit to regular exercises
Exercising will not only trim you down, but it will also help you sleep better at night. Exercising stimulates hormones such as melatonin and cortisol. Studies indicate that people who exercise regularly have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep than those who exercise less often. The more intensely you work out, the more powerful the sleep-promoting effects. Therefore, you should subject yourself to regular activity during the day to promote quality
sleep at night. Aside from intense workouts, relaxing, low-impact exercises like yoga, taking a walk, or gentle
stretching can also help to promote sleep. For better sleep, you should try to time your exercises right. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it can interfere with your sleep. It would be best if you exercised in the morning or afternoon.
4. Observe your eating and drinking practices
If you want to fall asleep fast and get uninterrupted sleep throughout the night, you should be mindful of what you eat and drink. For better sleep, you should avoid eating spicy meals, sugary foods, and refined carbs as they can trigger wakefulness at night. It would be best if you also avoided alcohol and caffeinated drinks before bedtime.
Aside from being mindful of what you eat, you should also be mindful of how and when you eat and drink. For instance, you should avoid eating large meals two to three hours before bedtime. If you feel hungry before going to bed, take a light snack at least 45 minutes before bed. You should also avoid drinking lots of fluids a few hours to bedtime to minimize bathroom trips.
5. Practice a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual
Many mothers take their time to read stories to their young ones before tucking them into bed every night. This is a comforting sleep ritual that helps soothe kids to sleep. Even in adulthood, practicing a bedtime ritual, such as reading a book, listening to calming music, or taking a bath before bed, can have a similar effect. If you get accustomed to practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual, it will be easier for your brain to signal the body and mind that it’s time for you to sleep. Healthy sleep habits will not only improve your mental and physical health, but it will also make a positive impact on your quality of life. If you’ve tried all the above tips and tricks and they aren’t working, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.