Keeping to healthy sleep habits can be one of the best goals to give yourself for the new year. A good night’s sleep can improve your physical and mental health, reduce stress, improve weight loss and much more! It’s one of the basic human needs that a lot of us don’t get enough of. If you’re finding yourself perma-tired, here’s a few habits to help you sleep to pick up in 2019, so that you can start to get a good night’s sleep.
Here are 10 effective habits to help you sleep better!
1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Your body’s circadian rhythm is it’s 24hr cycle, and it functions on a set loop based on when the sun rises and sets. If you keep a consistent schedule with your sleeping and waking times, your sleep quality will improve. An irregular sleeping pattern can cause long-term sleep problems, and can also affect your body’s natural circadian rhythm. This helps signal your brain to sleep too. If you’re struggling to drop off at night, or waking up throughout your sleep, an easy habit to help you sleep better is to start waking and sleeping at the same times.
2. Get sunshine during the day
Getting in some sunlight during the day will help keep your circadian rhythm healthy. It will also increase your energy levels during the day, which in turn improves sleep quality. Getting in bright light during the day will also reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Try and make it a habit to get daily sunlight exposure.
3. Don’t drink caffeine late
While a cup of coffee can help increase energy and fitness performance, drinking one late on in the day can stop your body from relaxing when you need to fall asleep. This is because it stimulates your nervous system. Caffeine can stay in your blood for up to six to eight hours, so try not to drink any past 3pm - stick to decaf if you can’t beat the cravings. An easy yet often ignored habit to help you sleep!
4. Get your bedroom in the right environment
The environment that you sleep in can have a huge impact on your sleep quality. Things like noise, lighting and even how you arrange your furniture can impact your sleep.
External noise in particular can cause long term sleep issues. Take some time to transform your bedroom into a relaxing place. Minimize noise where you can, and reduce the number of artificial lights such as screens and alarm clocks.
5. Get in the right temperature
Anyone who’s tried to sleep during a heatwave will know that temperature has an effect on how well we fall asleep. Room temperature can affect your sleep quality more than light and sound combined. If you’re too hot, your sleep quality decreases and you’re likely to wake more. Try to make your room an optimum sleep temperature, around 20 degrees seems to be the norm.
6. Stop napping for so long
A short power nap can do wonders to increase your energy levels, but a longer nap can affect your night time sleep. If you sleep for too long during the day you can confuse your internal body clock, and make yourself even sleepier during the day. Try to limit naps to 30 mins or under, to fully reap the benefit to your brain function without disturbing your sleep at night.
7. Reduce gadgets in the evening
As much as exposure to sunlight during the day can help us sleep, exposure to light during the night can hinder it - and this goes for our screens too. Light in the night can impact our circadian rhythms, tricking our brains into thinking it's still daytime out there. This can stop your body from producing relaxing hormones that help us get deep sleep. Blue light from phones and laptops are the worst culprits for this. A quick habit to help you sleep is to try to reduce screen time during the night, or use ‘night mode’ on your smartphone to reduce the blue light emissions from your gadget.
8. Don't eat late
Eating heavy foods late at night can impact the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Try to stick to light meals late, and eat your dinner a little earlier if you’re struggling with your sleep quality.
9. Clear your mind
A pre-bedtime routine helps you relax and clears your mind ready to sleep. When we’re children, we have a strict pre-bed schedule, bathtime, storytime, sleeptime. If you’ve ever envied how kids can drop off to sleep with ease, try and set yourself a routine that will clear your mind and get you ready for bed. Relaxing music, a bath, meditation, deep breathing - any of these help you relax, and in time will start to signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep. Try out different types of relaxation routines till you find one that works.
Perhaps the best way to improve your sleep is to work out. It can help all aspects of sleep health, from dropping off to staying asleep. Regular exercise, like yoga, can decrease the time it takes you to fall asleep by half, and allow you to sleep for longer. It also works to reduce stress and anxiety which might be keeping you up. Try to avoid heavy exercise right before you head to bed though - as this will stimulate your body and have adverse effects. Something gentle and relaxing is good though. This week’s yoga program is all about ending your day for a good night’s sleep, so why not give it a try to kickstart your 2019 healthy sleep habits?
By Amy Cavill
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