Not able to go for a morning run because you couldn’t wake up in the morning? Do you have trouble sleeping at night and then feel tired during the day? Chances are you are neglecting the importance of a good night’s sleep. It is as important as exercising regularly and consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet.
To begin, it is important to understand how poor sleep affects our lifestyle adversely. Lack of sleep, particularly deep sleep causes an imbalance in hormones during the day which affects the performance of both the body and the brain. In the long run, poor sleeping habits may result in weight gain and increases the risk of heart disease.
The following tips will help you sleep better at night and improve the quality of your life:
Get more bright light exposure during the day
This helps to regulate the circadian rhythm (this is your body’s clock) which affects your hormones during the day, keeping you awake and signalling when it is time to sleep.
In the case of insomnia, exposure to bright light during the day reduced the time it takes to fall asleep by 83%. In the case of older adults, the amount of sleep increased by two hours and sleep efficiency by 80%.
Reduce blue light exposure after sunset
Blue light is the light being emitted from the computer and mobile screens. Exposure to blue light during the night time hinders the release of the deep sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. Blue light tricks the mind into thinking its still day time.
It is important to reduce blue light exposure during the night to sleep better. This is the reason why smartphones nowadays come with a pre-installed night mode and there are many apps that block the blue light during the night.
Don’t drink coffee late
Caffeine is beneficial in increasing focus and energy. Energy drinks have large amounts of caffeine in them. Almost everyone drinks coffee to stay awake when needed so it is clear that coffee reduces sleep. But how much?
Studies have shown that caffeine stays in the body for 6-8 hours post consumption and worsens sleep quality. Therefore, it is recommended to not drink large quantities of coffee after 3 PM, instead drink decaffeinated coffee if needed.
Don’t drink alcohol either
Alcohol consumption at night disrupts sleeping patterns, reduces melatonin production and decreases the levels of human growth hormone (HGH). These factors directly affect the circadian rhythm.
Sleep at consistent hours
The body’s circadian rhythm aligns itself according to sunrise and sunset. Sleeping at odd hours or in the afternoon distorts the rhythm causing sleep issues.
Sleeping in the afternoon for 30 minutes or less has shown to improve the performance of the brain, longer naps are proven to be counter-productive. This is subjective to each individual, so if you are having trouble sleeping at night, you may consider shortening the afternoon naps.
In general, a rule of thumb is to sleep and wake at consistent times to ensure better sleep quality. Go to sleep and wake up at the same times for consecutive days and see the improvement in sleep quality for yourself.
In the book, The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma and Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, it is stated that the brain needs 5 complete REM cycles (1 cycle = 90 minutes) to help the brain relax.
Proper sleep is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding diseases. This list of tips, though not extensive, is a good start to developing a healthy lifestyle.