Sleep is a vital component for your well-being because it is directly connected to your physical, cognitive, and emotional health. When you sleep well, you have more energy, better concentration, and are in a happier mood. However, when you don’t get a good night’s rest, you will have less physical energy, diminished cognitive abilities, and exhibit more negative moods.
The effects of sleep can either enhance your life or hinder it. Therefore, it’s important to improve your sleep to set yourself up for success in your personal and professional life. There are 10 proven tips to increase sleep quality.
- In the evening, limit your exposure to blue light.
- Caffeine should not be consumed late in the day.
- Reduce the number of long or irregular afternoon sleeps.
- Attempt to sleep and wake at regular intervals.
- Take a melatonin pill to help you sleep better.
- Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
- Make the most of your sleeping quarters.
- Set the temperature in your bedroom.
- Avoid eating late at night.
- Take a bath or shower to unwind.
1. In the evening, limit your exposure to blue light.
Blue light is the light emitted from the screens of tech devices such as smartphones, TVs, computers, and tablets. Blue light negatively impacts sleep quality because it significantly suppresses melatonin production and throws off circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physiological changes that follow a 24-hour internal clock.
Melatonin is a hormone connected to the circadian rhythm. As part of this, the body releases extra melatonin when it’s dark outside to help encourage sleep. However, light exposure, particularly blue light, suppresses the releasing of melatonin, leaving you more awake than sleepy.
Harvard researchers found that blue light stops melatonin production two times more than green light. Blue light also modified circadian rhythms twice as much. For example, green light adjusted circadian rhythms by 1.5 hours, but blue light adjusted these rhythms by 3 hours.
Therefore, you should avoid using smartphones, TVs, computers, and tablets about one hour or 30 minutes before your bedtime. Furthermore, try keeping these devices, especially your phone, outside your bedroom.
2. Caffeine should not be consumed late in the day.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can diminish sleep quality by delaying sleep onset, which can cause someone to not get enough sleep. Caffeine does this by binding to adenosine receptors.
Adenosine is a sleep-inducing brain chemical that gradually builds up throughout the day, eventually causing you to feel tired. However, when caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors, it temporarily blocks the adenosine, promoting wakefulness.
Research has found that caffeine consumed even 6 hours before bed can negatively affect sleep. Therefore, don’t consume caffeine too late in the day to avoid interfering with your ability to fall asleep at night. For example, if your bedtime is 9:00 p.m., you should stop drinking caffeinated beverages by 3:00 p.m.
3. Reduce the number of long or irregular afternoon naps.
Longer or irregular afternoon naps can make it hard to fall asleep later at night. Furthermore, the need to sleep during the day is likely indicative that you’re not getting enough quality rest at night. Regularly taking longer naps is also associated with an increased risk of disease and mortality.
However, you don’t have to avoid naps altogether; you just need to do them the right away. Health experts advise that your naps should last 30 minutes or less. Shorter naps have been found to improve alertness, while longer ones are linked to diminished productivity and grogginess.
4. Attempt to sleep and wake at regular intervals.
Attempting to sleep and wake at regular intervals means that you are going to bed and waking up at the same time every day of the week. Setting a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate the body’s internal clock.
Not only can this help if you have difficulty falling asleep or waking up, but it also ensures you get enough hours of sleep. As a result, your sleep quality should improve.
Adults with irregular sleep schedules are at an increased risk for cardiometabolic issues. Therefore, experts suggest keeping a regular schedule instead.
To get started, pick an appropriate bedtime and wake-up that allows you to get between 7 and 9 hours of rest every night. Then, make sure you stick with this schedule throughout the week, including on the weekends.
5. Take a melatonin pill to help you sleep better.
At night, the body releases added amounts of the hormone melatonin as part of its natural sleep-wake cycle. The release of extra melatonin is designed to help you fall asleep, but people may need additional help in some cases.
Melatonin dietary supplements are a popular method to help treat short-term insomnia by providing the individual with additional melatonin to promote tiredness. They usually come in pill form.
Melatonin could improve sleep quality by helping the individual fall asleep faster. However, most health experts advise that you use melatonin for short-term insomnia, as the research on long-term use is limited. Also, keep in mind that melatonin is not a sleeping pill but rather a supplement to support the body’s natural sleep process.
6. Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
Alcoholic beverages are products that cause drunkenness, such as liquor, wine, and beer. Experts say you should avoid consuming alcoholic beverages before bed to help you sleep better. Initially, alcohol may cause you to feel tired, but alcohol is also linked to more disturbed sleep.
Instead of a nightcap that contains alcohol, opt for a hot herbal tea. Drinking hot tea is very relaxing. Plus, there are popular teas designed to support sleepiness, like chamomile.
7. Make the most of your sleeping quarters.
Improving your bedroom could significantly enhance your sleep quality because it can prevent unwanted distractions that negatively affect rest.
First, the room should be as dark as possible. Light exposure of any kind could interrupt your internal sleep-wake cycle, making it harder for you to doze off. To help keep your environment dark, consider putting up blackout curtains or wearing an eye mask.
Second, your sleeping environment should be quiet. Loud noises can delay sleep onset and lead to more disrupted rest. To help block out noise, you can purchase earplugs. If neighbors or those you live with are the cause of bothersome noise, consider discussing the issue with them so that you can rest better.
Lastly, your bed must be as comfortable as possible. If you have sensitive pressure points, a quality mattress should help relieve this pressure through contouring materials like memory foam and latex.
Furthermore, the bed should be supportive to help minimize or prevent back pain. Any type of discomfort could interfere with your sleep quality, so to improve the situation, make sure to get a well-made mattress that suits your specific needs.
8. Set the temperature in your bedroom.
According to research, heat exposure can affect the sleep stages, specifically slow-wave (deep) sleep and REM sleep. However, exposure to the cold does not have this effect. As a result, experts agree that people should sleep in cooler spaces instead of hot ones.
The best temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, adjust your thermostat within that range to help enhance your rest.
9. Avoid eating late at night.
Not eating late at night could improve your sleep quality. Researchers found that eating within 3 hours of bedtime is associated with a greater risk for interrupted rest, longer sleep onset latency, and reduced sleep duration. Furthermore, a full stomach could feel uncomfortable, which could also interfere with your sleep.
Instead of eating late at night, try to plan your dinner to be more than 3 hours in advance of your bedtime. However, if you are hungry before bed, it is okay to have a light, healthy snack. Health experts recommend avoiding snacks with lots of sugar and choosing more protein-rich foods.
10. Take a bath or shower to unwind.
A warm bath or shower should help you unwind to fall asleep. Stress is one of the main culprits of insomnia. If you are experiencing stress that’s affecting your rest, you need to find a way to help you relax at night.
Baths, in particular, are a great way to do this. Research has found that bathing is highly beneficial for physical and mental health. Furthermore, nightly baths are a routine that’s easy to maintain.
What is the Importance of Getting Quality Sleep at Night?
Getting quality sleep at night is important because it can directly affect your physical and mental well-being.
When you sleep, the body restores itself, which is important for physical energy and immune health. Therefore, you should have more energy when you sleep well and are less likely to get sick.
Sleep is also vital for cognitive and emotional health. For example, you concentrate better when you get good rest, translating to professional or academic success. Furthermore, good sleep is more likely to improve your mood, positively influencing your relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.
Conversely, the risks of insufficient sleep are detrimental to your quality of life.
First, you’re more vulnerable to illness when you don’t get adequate rest because your immune system isn’t as strong. Secondly, poor rest is associated with a lack of concentration, which puts you at an increased risk for accidents, especially for those who drive or operate machinery at work. Third, insufficient sleep means that you are more likely to exhibit negative moods like irritability, which could obstruct your personal and professional relationships.
How Does Quality Sleep Affect the Health of People?
Sleep quality affects the health of people by putting them at a higher or lower risk for long-term complications. The health effects of poor sleep are listed below.
- Dementia: Chronic poor sleep is tied to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. Dementia is a disorder in which a person can experience loss of memory, language, problem-solving skills, and other important cognitive functions. Experts believe the reason for this is that when you don’t rest enough, your brain cannot flush out beta-amyloid and other substances. As a result, these substances build up in the brain, eventually leading to dementia.
- Heart Disease: Heart disease refers to several types of heart-related issues such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, and congenital heart defects. Poor sleep is tied to unhealthy habits like eating bad foods, high stress, and reduced physical activity. Experts say these bad habits can lead to heart problems down the road.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes is a long-term condition that occurs when a person’s body cannot properly regulate blood glucose levels. As a result, they may experience an excess of sugar in their bloodstream, which can lead to additional health complications. According to experts, insufficient sleep can increase cortisol levels and cause an influx of blood sugar. The pancreas will then release extra insulin to regulate the blood sugar. When this happens too much, though, the pancreas cannot keep up, which could result in diabetes.
- Obesity: Obesity is also a long-term health complication of poor sleep. Inadequate rest causes people to crave more unhealthy foods. Over time, consuming too many of these foods could lead to significant weight gain. Furthermore, a lack of sleep also means you have less physical energy. As a result, you may be less inclined to exercise, contributing to obesity.
- Cancer: Insufficient rest also puts you at an increased risk for specific cancers, including breast, ovaries, colon, and prostate. According to experts, people regularly up at night, such as shift workers, are particularly at risk. They say the constant nighttime exposure to light suppresses the melatonin hormone, which may foster cancer growth
What Factors should be Eliminated to Get better Sleep?
The factors that should be eliminated to get better sleep are stress and anxiety, drugs, caffeine, alcohol, a bad sleep environment, irregular sleep schedules, and sleep disorders.
- Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety are mental health issues that impair a person’s ability to relax to fall asleep. Therefore, it’s important to find ways to regulate these issues. For stress, establish a nightly routine to help wind down, such as taking a hot bath or drinking herbal tea. Exercise is also helpful for reducing stress. If anxiety is the problem, it may be helpful to write down your worries in a journal every night before bed or read a book to get your mind on something else.
- Drugs: Certain medications can have side effects that negatively impact sleep. For example, alpha-blockers and antidepressants are a couple of medications known to cause insomnia.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause insomnia, even 6 hours after it is consumed. Therefore, you should avoid caffeinated beverages at least 6 hours before your regular bedtime.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a substance in certain beverages that can cause drunkenness. While it can initially cause sleepiness, research shows it is linked to more fragmented sleep patterns. For better sleep, avoid drinking alcohol before bed.
- Bad Sleep Environment: A bad sleep environment could make falling and staying asleep harder. Experts say your bedroom should be a cool, dark, and quiet place for quality rest. Furthermore, the bed you sleep in should help you feel as comfortable as possible. If your bed isn’t providing optimal comfort, invest in one more suited for your needs.
- Irregular Sleep Schedules: Irregular sleep schedules should be eliminated for better rest. Experts advise keeping a consistent bedtime and wake-up time every day. A regular sleep schedule will help set your internal clock and, therefore, offer better rest and health.
- Sleep Disorders: Sleep disorders should also be addressed to get improved sleep. Some sleep disorders, such as insomnia, may eventually go away on their own. However, some disorders may be more long-term. Therefore, even if you can’t eliminate a disorder, it’s vital to find appropriate treatments that will allow you to get adequate rest.
What are the Sleep Disorders that obstruct sleep well?
The sleep disorders that obstruct sleep well are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy. We list these sleep disorders in detail below.
- Insomnia: Insomnia is a disorder in which a person has difficulty falling or staying asleep. Insomnia hinders sleep quality by delaying sleep onset and causing more fragmented sleep patterns. Insomnia can result from bad sleep habits, depression, anxiety, illness, lack of physical activity, and certain medications.
- Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is when a person’s breathing repeatedly starts and stops while asleep. Most cases are Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which means the throat relaxes to the point that it blocks oxygen from entering the upper airways. However, Central Sleep Apnea is a neurological issue in which the brain cannot send the right signals to the breathing muscles. Sleep apnea interferes with sleep quality because the lack of oxygen will eventually cause them to wake up gasping for air. As a result, these individuals are less likely to experience restorative rest.
- Restless Legs Syndrome: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is when an individual has an uncontrollable urge to move their legs while at rest. Therefore, people with this disorder experience difficulty falling asleep. The cause of RLs is not known, but experts believe it may result from a dopamine imbalance in the brain.
- Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a disorder in which people experience extreme daytime tiredness. Narcolepsy can hinder sleep quality because it makes it much harder to maintain a set sleep schedule. The cause of Narcolepsy is not known, but it may be linked to low amounts of the chemical hypocretin.