Do you ever wake up feeling like you haven’t slept at all? Is your sleep not refreshing? This might indicate that you’re having a problem with your Quality of Sleep. In my recent post: “How to make an end to your Insomnia”, I explained how you can stop the vicious circle of insomnia.
In this post I’ll cover how to maintain good sleeping habits or “sleep hygiene”.
Even though we sleep one-third of our life, many people don’t know what they have to do to sleep well. In this article I’ll therefore explain how you can improve your Quality of Sleep.
- Go to bed on the same time of the day, every day. Our body is quite sensitive to changes in schedules, especially with regard to sleeping schedules. Pick a moment on the day in which you are normally sleepy and stick to it. It also helps to you start your sleeping ritual and go to bed. You will see how your body will prepare you for bedtime, by lowering your body temperature and closing your eyelids more and more.
- Don’t eat heavy meals before going to bed. Heavy meals take a long time to digest. During digestion, the body spends energy on processing the meal, and moving it forward through the body. This process interferes with our sleep. The fatter and heavier the meal, the longer it takes. If you eat a heavy meal, avoid doing this within two hours of going to bed.
- Exercise during the day. It has been shown in various scientific studies that exercising during the day improves our sleep. Exercise helps in releasing the stress hormone cortisol from your body, which makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try to exercise at least 3 hours before going to bed, so you avoid having to go to bed excited.
- Make sure you get enough sunlight. We humans are like plants. When we don’t get enough sunlight during the day, we don’t feel well.This is due to a lack of Vitamin D and melatonin. melatonin is especially important for a good night of sleep, since it regulates when you get tired and if you can sleep throughout the night. Your doctor can give you information on vitamin D and melatonin supplements if necessary. Also, if you live in area with a lack of sunlight you can consider buying a day-light therapy lamp.
- Leave your worries to a journal. When you go to bed with your head full of memories from the past day, it can be difficult to fall asleep. Also, you might dream restlessly. Journaling can be a great way to organise your thoughts and leave your worries behind. When you write something down you have to bring structure to what happened to you. This can already help you to make more sense of it and let it go.
- Avoid caffeine after 2 pm. Caffeine takes 8 hours to get out of our blood. This means that if you drink a cup of coffee around 8pm, your brain will be more active until 4am at night! This is why drinking caffeine after 2pm is not a good idea if you want to improve your quality of sleep. If you’re a coffee lover, try decaf coffee.
- Do a relaxing activity before going to sleep. We have a tendency of not stopping nowadays, but your body needs some time to wind off before going to bed. You can read a book, take a bath, get a relaxing massage or do a relaxation exercise.
- Avoid alcohol as an aid to fall asleep. Drinking alcohol to fall asleep is like putting a band-aid on a flat tire. It might help you temporarily to fall asleep, but during the night you will wake up more frequently and your REM-sleep will be interrupted. Therefore it is important to limit alcohol to one to two drinks per day, or less, and to avoid drinking within three hours of going to bed.
- Reject sleeping medication. Sleeping medication is highly addictive and has a lot of negative side effects. Sleep medication will leave you drowsy during the day, and it’s not effective in improving your quality of sleep in the long run. If you need sleeping aids, you could discuss melatonin supplements with your doctor. Melatonin supplements can reset your biological clock and can help you to fall asleep. They have no negative side effects, and are part of our natural sleep-wake system.
- Get pets out of the bedroom. It is very cute to have your pet sleeping on your feet, belly, or back. However, having pets in the bedroom disrupts your sleep, and makes you wake up more often. If you can, try to keep your pets out of the bedroom.
- Don’t try to fall asleep while listening to music or the television. Even though calming music or the television can help u to calm down, it interferes with your quality of sleep by preventing you to reach the deeper sleep stages. The deepest sleep stages are most important to help us recover during the night. Listening to some soft music before going to bed can be a good idea though.
- Practice a relaxation technique. Relaxation techniques are awesome! They help you to reduce anxiety and stress, and they’re a great help in calming down before going to bed. You can try to take deep and slow abdominal breaths, or do some yoga or meditation exercise.
Quality of sleep can be more important than quantity of sleep. That’s why I wrote this article. I hope you’ll find these tips helpful and that you will notice some improvement in your Quality of Sleep.
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