Sleep is one of the most important parts of living a healthy and energetic life. So if you’re not getting a good, full night of it, then it will affect your mood and your overall health.
Many different things can be attributed to why you can’t fall asleep at night, or why you are waking up in the middle of the night. These can be concerns at work or in your personal life, or they can be due to physical problems, like sickness or lack of activity. Or it could be something you are doing on a daily basis or something wrong with your sleep environment in general.
Below are some actions you can take to get a longer and better quality sleep, as well as explanations for why you may not be getting to sleep very easily in the first place – so you can feel better every day when you wake up.
Try to Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Your body is on a clock and it likes to stick to that clock, for the most part. So if you’re going to sleep late some nights and waking up early other mornings, your body clock will get confused and try to wake you up early when you have stayed up late, or keep you up when you are trying to get to sleep early.
One of the best examples of this is jet lag, when you have taken a long flight and are in a different time zone — your body doesn’t really know what’s going on. This can lead to a number of bad nights of sleep in a row and throw everything off, from your mood to your physical health.
Pay Attention to What You Consume
What you eat, drink and consume in general can affect your sleep as well. Eating unhealthy and heavy meals will often lead to tumultuous sleep that isn’t as full or as long as it should be. Drinking large amounts of alcohol will also disrupt sleep later in the night, not including the chance that you will probably have to wake up and go to the bathroom.
On the flip side of that coin, drinking caffeine or drinks high in sugar will keep you up for an extended period of time, keeping you from falling asleep. Smoking nicotine, as well as other substances, will act as a stimulant as well and make you stay up later than you ever intended.
Comfort is Key
Having a comfortable bed, pillows, sheets and comforter are key to a good night’s sleep. Your body needs to be comfortable, but also requires support so that you are not tossing and turning throughout the night, which will distract from the depth and quality of your sleep.
Mattresses should be replaced every six to eight years on average, so you should consider doing this, regardless of what type of mattress you have. It may also be a good idea to place a foam pad between the surface of the mattress and the top sheet, for added support, though everyone prefers something a little different when they go to sleep. While this may be initially expensive, it is worth the investment for years of comfortable sleep.
Limit Light and Sound
People are often kept awake by little things, like lights and sounds. So it’s a good idea to invest in blinds or a solid curtain to keep the light out of your bedroom windows when you are sleeping. The more darkness you can create when you turn off the light, the more deeply you will usually sleep.
Sound is another issue. Some people are comfortable with the constant hum of a city out their window, while others need the peace and quiet of the countryside. If you are the latter and prefer absolute silence, you should look into certain ways to soundproof your bedroom, namely by adding soundproofing strips around your windows and by knowing your neighbors and their habits.
Some people take a cheaper approach on both these fronts and just wear a sleep mask or ear plugs to keep both the light and sound aspects from being an issue.
The afternoon siesta is a great thing, sure, but it throws off your sleep schedule, as you will already be rested going into the evening. If you want a good, long, full night of sleep, napping is something you shouldn’t do unless you absolutely need it.
Of course, if napping is part of your daily routine and you only want to sleep in bursts, maybe you shouldn’t lose it after all.
Often, people have trouble getting to sleep at night because they just don’t do enough physical activity in their everyday lives. Their body has a lot of energy and it doesn’t want to go to sleep yet.
So get out there and do some physical activity, work up a sweat and you will almost definitely experience a deeper sleep when you lie down at night, as your whole body will be tired, not just your eyes and your mind. Plus, you’ll also be more physically healthy!
How do you improve sleep length and quality?