Contrary to what you might think, good sleep is more under your control. In just a moment I will prove it to you. First why is sleep so important?
Sleep is one of the major mechanism that helps recharge our body system for better performance cognitively, physically, and emotionally. It is not uncommon to feel a slight headache or feel grumpy after a not-so-good night sleep. Many people have written benefits of good sleep and how it affects your work. The latest book of Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution, centers on this concept of sleep. So, my goal today is not to dwell more on the benefits of sleep, rather to look at some simple ideas you can use to improve your sleep experience and to highlight reasons why you are in control of your sleep experience.
1. Your consumption lifestyle interferes with sleep
It is a scientific fact that drinks, food, or any product nicotine and caffeine have tremendous impact on your quality of sleep. Any coffee lover knows that caffeine is a stimulant that makes you active and awake. While alcohol might induce sleep, it acts as stimulant after some hours increasing the number of awakenings thus decreasing the quality of sleep.
To a large extent, your consumption lifestyle are things you can control. Thus,once it's about 6 hours to your bed time, stay away from caffeine (present in chocolate, cola, coffee, pain relievers). It is also advisable to refrain from smoking when it's about bedtime, especially if you desire a good sleep.Limiting your alcohol consumption and avoid drinking within 3 hours to bedtime.
2. You can put off the light
Light effect is one of the factors listed in a study conducted at Harvard on having a good sleep. One of the hormone that controls sleep is melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that is controlled by light exposure. When it is dark, the brain creates more melatonin thus making you feel sleepy, while less is created when it is light, inducing less sleep.
However, many aspect of our life can influence the production of melatonin. The following habits are thus advised:
- Within 1 to 2 hours of bedtime, stay away from bright screen. Devices like phone, tablets, laptop or TV should be regulated, and if you must use them, reduce the brightness.
- Avoid late night Television, asides the harmful effect of the light rays on melatonin, many TV programs are not relaxing but stimulating. A music or audio book will do.
- Keep Your Room Dark. Switch off all light sources, use heavy curtains or use a sleep mask to bed. You can also get yourself a sleep mask to induce a better sleeping experience.
3. Your decision to have regular exercise
Studies have shown that daily exercise improve both sleep quality and sleep duration. One study on immediate effects of forest walking indicated that having walk in the afternoon extend sleep duration significantly. Another study suggest that insomnia patient tend to have better sleep experience when they add moderate exercise to their daily routine.Simply adding exercises like walking or yoga in the evening to your lifestyle could go a long to improve your sleeping experience. However, it is important to ensure that the exercises should be done at least 3 hours before bedtime. Exercise increases the body's metabolism and raises the body's temperature which could interfere with sleep as well.
4. What Are You eating for dinner?
Research has shown that what you eat for dinner plays an important role in the quality of sleep you get. Just as there sleep inhibitor food you should run away from in the evening, there are known sleep-inducing foods that you could add to your evening routine. Examples of these include: Banana, Walnuts, Milk, Crackers, peanut butter,bowl of cereal,Tart Cherry Juice, Yogurt, Cheese stick, Salmon, and Soybeans. Most of these type of food containtryptophan,which raises melatonin and serotonin levels in the body, both of which induce sleep.
At the same ty to avoid having things like high-protein meal, spicy foods, fatty foods, and chocolate in your dinner. Whether you are eating-out or cooking at home for dinner, the level of attention you pay to menu of your dinner might have significant impact of your quality of sleep
5. Avoid emotionally stressing discussion in bed
Many studies have established the link between sleep and mood. The interval of transition between your wake time and sleep time should be filled with relaxing activities. You could take a bath, read a novel, listen to soft music, or practice relaxation exercise.It is best to avoid any serious or emotional discussion when it's almost bed time. Stressful activities (physically, psychologically, or emotionally) could cause the body to secrete the hormone cortisol that is known to increase alertness. So, make a conscious effort to reduce avoid or reduce emotionally stressing discussion in bed.
6. Improve your sleep environment
At times, small but meaningful changes to your sleep environment could make the difference to the quality of sleep you get. The following habit will help create a perfect environment that will send signals to the brain that it is time to retire for the day:
- Keep noise down: if the noise is in your control, keep it down. If, however you cannot control it, (traffic noise, neighbor's stereo etc.) you could mask it with ear plugs or a fan.
- Make the room cool: Most people sleep best in a slightly cool environment with enough ventilation. Thus you do not want an extremely cold nor hot room. Keep it normal with adequate ventilation.
- Make Your Bed comfortable: You should be able to stretch completely, and turn comfortably on your bed without interference. Waking up with a sore back or aching neck might indicate you need to consider changing your bed or pillow.
- Reserve Your Bed for Sleep majorly: Asides sex, you should not do any other thing on your bed. This will make the brain associate the bedroom with sleep and make it easier to drift off.
Making the above listed process a routine will go a long way in improving the quality of sleep. Most of these ideas are things under your control. While they might not be mastered in a day, gradually adhering and applying them in your lifestyle could greatly influence your quality of sleep.