Tips to Improve Your Sleeping Habits and Health
Sleep is more than just beauty rest or counting sheep, it is an essential process that allows the body to recharge. The functional medicine experts at Personal Healthcare Providers offer insight into the benefits of sleep and how you can make sure you’re getting enough.
Sleep: Why and How Much
To dial in your sleep habits, it’s important to first understand how much you should be getting and why. Sleep is essential for people of all ages, but not everyone needs the same amount. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that healthy adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Those who are still growing, such as babies, young children, and teens, should get more sleep to help support their development. People over the age of 65 need between seven and eight hours a night.
Sleep is essential for proper cognitive and behavioral functions. Without enough sleep, you may suffer from attention lapses, reduced cognition, delayed reactions, and mood shifts. This can have impacts on quality of life, relationships, and even increase the likelihood of getting into a car accident.
Improve Your Sleeping Habits
Believe it or not, better sleep starts outside of the bedroom. What you do during the day can greatly impact how restful your night is.
Stick to a schedule
Implementing a schedule is important to keep your body on track. We have an internal “body clock” that helps to regulate all of the cycles in our bodies, including sleep. This clock operates on a 24-hour cycle, known as circadian rhythm, and your body releases hormones to help begin or end certain processes throughout the cycle. Make sure you’re sticking to the same sleep schedule, even on weekends. This will help to keep your body on track and ensure that it understands when it should be awake and when it should be asleep.
Develop a bedtime routine
Prime your mind to recognize when it’s time to wind down with a bedtime routine. Bedtime routines can be adapted to your lifestyle and preferences but should include calming activities that don’t involve screentime. Here are some activities that may be beneficial to include in your bedtime routine:
- Taking a hot bath or shower
- Having a cup of decaffeinated tea
- Reading a book
- Relaxing yoga
- Deep breathing techniques
- Turning off any electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep
By adopting these activities into your bedtime routine, your body will start to recognize when it is time to fall asleep. This means less tossing and turning and more hours of peaceful slumber.
Think about what you’re eating and drinking
What we put into our bodies can have a direct impact on our sleep. Avoid large or heavy meals within a couple of hours of bedtime, as your discomfort and the energy from the food may keep you up.
In addition, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can all have an impact on your sleep. Their effects can take hours to wear off and have direct negative impacts on sleep quality.
Create a restful environment
Your bedroom should foster sleep, not fight it. Ensure that wherever you’re laying your head at night is the perfect environment for you. Typically, people sleep best in cool, dark, and quiet places. If any of these are hard for you to achieve, consider investing in light-blocking curtains, earplugs, or a fan. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and addresses all of your unique sleep needs.
It’s also important to make sure that your bed is someplace that your brain associates with sleep. Although it may be tempting to lounge in bed while checking emails, finishing up a report, or doing homework, bringing these activities into your bed can cause your brain to associate it as a workspace. This can cause serious struggles when it’s time to fall asleep at night.
Set yourself up for success during the day
What you do during the day can directly impact how your night goes. Make an effort to limit daytime naps. While it may be tempting to snooze if you didn’t sleep well the night before, this can delay another night’s sleep. If you do need a nap, limit yourself to 30 minutes and avoid napping late in the day.
Consider increasing your physical activity during the day if you’re struggling to fall asleep. Regular exercise can help to burn off energy and signal to your brain that your body needs rest. Avoid exercising close to bedtime, however.
Spending time outside can also help to promote better sleep. Getting to spend time in the sun helps to reset the body’s circadian rhythm, which can jump-start a healthy sleep schedule.
Manage stress before bed
Many of us find ourselves laying in bed stressing and unable to fall asleep. It is important that we develop ways to manage this stress before we get into bed. Journaling, meditation, and breathing techniques are all elements of a bedtime routine that can help to clear your mind before climbing under the covers.
However, if you feel extremely stressed, adopting stress management techniques throughout your day can help you have a more restful night. Stress has a negative impact on sleep, so getting it in check can have great results.
Struggling with Sleep? Personal Healthcare Providers Can Help
Although sleep is essential, it doesn’t come easy to everyone. There’s nothing more frustrating than tossing and turning all night, only to wake up exhausted. If you’re struggling with getting enough sleep or with getting quality sleep, the team at Personal Healthcare Providers can help. Our team takes a personalized approach to functional medicine, examining the root of the problem rather than just fixing the symptoms. To get in touch with one of our doctors, schedule an appointment.