Lack of sleep takes a toll on us, both physically and mentally, as it changes activity in some parts of your brain. How we function when we’re awake pretty much depends on our sleep quality – when we’re drowsy, we’re less capable of controlling our emotions, making decisions and solving problems.
Sleep deficiency is also linked with risk-taking behavior and depression, and it increases the chances of developing many diseases.
If you’re having sleep difficulties falling or staying asleep, here are some really simple tips to help you overcome them.
Have a Sleep Routine
It’s advisable that you have a steady sleep-wake cycle every day, and try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Even though it may seem tempting to stay awake or sleep longer during the weekends, especially if it has been a rough week, these changes in your routine can only make your sleep difficulties worse.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every night will train your body to naturally adjust to this schedule, making it easier for you to fall asleep when the time comes.
Stimulants such as caffeine can significantly affect your sleeping. The caffeine has a half-life of 3 to 5 hours, and that’s when its effects on your body are the strongest.
However, the other half stays in your body for much longer, delaying the timing of your body clock, reducing your total sleep time, as well as your deep sleep. A study found that even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed, affected subjects’ amount of sleep for over an hour.
Try to cut off time for coffee at 2 pm and limit the intake to a maximum of four cups a day. It’s also advisable to avoid green tea and alcohol before bedtime.
Have a Sleep Ritual
It could be beneficial for you to create a relaxing ritual before bedtime so that your body and mind can wind down. A good ritual will take from 30 minutes to an hour before your committed bedtime. Apart from your personal hygiene, you can include some of these activities in your ritual:
- Writing about your day can reduce your anxiety.
- Meditation, relaxation exercises, deep breathing techniques.
- Enjoying a cup of herbal tea to calm you down.
- Spraying some lavender oil or Bach flower spray to switch off unwanted thoughts before going to bed.
- You can try putting on earplugs or eyeshades to avoid all disturbances.
Regular morning exercises can help you fall asleep easier in the evening, improve sleep quality and duration. It’s best that you finish with your training at least three hours before you plan to fo to bed. Also, avoid exercising immediately before bedtime, as all the endorphins flowing through your body will keep you awake.
Skip Daily Naps
Although naps may seem like a perfect way to catch on the lost sleep, they can actually affect the quality of your nighttime sleep and disturb your sleeping patterns.
If you really feel that you need to take a nap during a day, don’t nap after 3 pm, and limit it to 30 or 40 minutes, in order to wake up refreshed.
Sleep in a Pleasant Environment
Another way to ease your sleep difficulties is by sleeping in an environment that is pleasant – lighting, temperature, and noises should be controlled so that they contribute to falling and staying asleep.
Learn to use your bed only for sleeping and sex, and avoid associating any other activity that raises your alertness to your sleeping space.
If you wake up during the night and you have trouble falling asleep again, don’t force yourself to stay in the bed. It’s best to move to another room and do a calming activity, such as a jigsaw puzzle, to tire your brain and help you get some rest.
Avoid Food and Drink Before Bedtime
Consuming food and drinks before bedtime can also keep you up during the night. Don’t eat large meals within two hours before bedtime, as you can activate the digestive system. This is especially important if you already suffer from issues such as heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux, as you can make your symptoms worse.
Consuming drinks in the evening can overwhelm your bedtime, and disturb your sleep because of frequent visits to the bathroom.
Check Your Health
Short-term insomnia that lasts for a couple of days is not a cause of concern. But if your sleep difficulties last longer than a few weeks, and nothing from the above seems to help, you should consult your health care practitioner and try to determine the cause.
Sometimes it can be a symptom of an illness, such as:
- Restless leg syndrome,
- Thyroid disorders.
The quality of our sleep affects the quality of our lives and can lead to many health issues. Use these tips above to develop a sleep routine and never miss a good night’s sleep again.