Sleeping is a natural process. It provides the body with a chance to do its repair work. Both the mind and the body relax, stress disappears, and the adrenal glands stop producing stress hormones, making sleep a very important part of stress management.
After getting enough sleep, we feel more refreshed and more relaxed and we are equipped to handle the day’s challenges. Unfortunately, many people struggle to sleep well or do not give themselves enough time to sleep.
If you are one of those, you are robbing yourself of your beauty sleep and you will struggle to look great in your summer wear. Improve your sleep quality and quantity this spring to improve your physical, emotional and mental health. You will look younger and vibrant in the summer. Here are 10 hacks to improve your sleep.
1. Expose Yourself to Bright Light During the Day
If you live far in the north with long winter nights, invest in a bright artificial light device or bulbs. Your circadian rhythm awakens you in the morning and makes you feel sleepy in the evening.
To maintain your circadian rhythm health, increase your daytime energy and improve your sleep duration and quality, expose yourself to natural sunlight or bright light during the day. Scientists found that exposing insomnia sufferers to daytime bright light improved quality and duration of sleep by 83%. (Campbell SS, Dawson D, and Anderson MW, 1993).
2. Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day
You probably like a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. That is because caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you awake. If you consume caffeine late in the day or evening, it stimulates your nervous system and may stop you from sleeping. It takes 6-8 hours to get the caffeine out of your system (Fredholm, 1999). Scientists found that consuming caffeine up to six hours before bedtime considerably worsened sleep quality (Drake & others, 2013).
3. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
If you are struggling to fall asleep, develop the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time daily. After a few weeks, you will easily fall asleep at the scheduled bedtime and wake up naturally at the planned time. Consistency will help you with long-term sleep quality (Van Dongen & Dinges, 2003) since the body’s circadian rhythm works on a set loop that is aligned to sunrise and sunset.
4. Avoid Long Daytime Naps
Sometimes you may need a nap during daytime but this can confuse your internal clock and make you struggle to fall asleep at night. (Groeger & others, 2011). If you already take daytime naps and still sleep at night, there is no need to worry. But, if you do not have a habit of taking daytime naps, just avoid naps altogether.
5. Avoid Alcohol at Night
Drinking alcohol at night can affect your sleep and hormones negatively. It can cause snoring, sleep apnea and disrupted sleep patterns. (Issa & Sullivan, 1982). Alcohol changes melatonin production at night, and this hormone plays a key role in the circadian rhythm. (Ekman & others, 1993). It also decreases the production of the human growth hormone which plays a major role in the circadian rhythm. (Ekman, Vakkuri & others, 1996).
6. Optimize Your Bedroom Environment
Your bedroom environment makes a huge difference in your sleep quality. (Libert & others, 1991). Buy a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow. Buy heavy curtains to keep out external light. Furnish your bedroom with colors that make you feel relaxed. Keep your bedroom clean. Reduce noise and light from electronic devices. Maintain a comfortable temperature in the bedroom, say around 70°F (21°C).
7. Do Not Eat Late in the Evening
Eating late at night may cause discomfort and even heartburn when you lie down. It also affects the release of the human growth hormone (HGH) and melatonin and that affects the quality of sleep. Eating high GI carbohydrates late at night affects sleep for some people. (Jalilolqhadr & others, 2011).
8. Relax and Clear Your Mind
Find a way to relax before bedtime. Try a relaxing massage, take a hot bath, listen to relaxing music or a white noise machine, read a book, do a deep breathing exercise or meditate.
9. Do not Exercise in the Evening
Exercise during daytime only. Exercise enhances all aspects of sleep and it is used to reduce symptoms of insomnia (Reid & others, 2010) as it was found to be more beneficial than most drugs. (Passos & others, 2010). However, exercising late in the evening can make you feel too energetic to sleep.
10. Do Not Drink Too Much Before Going to Bed
Hydration is important but does not drink too many fluids late in the evening to avoid waking up too often to urinate. Have most of your fluids early in the day then stop drinking about 1 hour before bedtime.
If you try all the above tips and find that you still cannot sleep, then consult your doctor and also find a new mattress that fits your needs. You may have a sleeping disorder that is causing your insomnia.
- Campbell SS, Dawson D, and Anderson MW. (1993, Aug). Journal of American Geriatric Society. Alleviation of sleep maintenance insomnia with timed exposure to bright light.
- Drake C, Roehrs T, Shambroom J and Roth T. (2013, Nov). Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed.
- Ekman AC & others. (1993). Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Ethanol inhibits melatonin secretion in healthy volunteers in a dose-dependent randomized double-blind cross-over study.
- Ekman, Vakkuri, Ekman, Leppaluoto, Rokonen & Knip. (1996, Jul). Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Ethanol decreases nocturnal plasma levels of thyrotropin and growth hormone but not those of thyroid hormones or prolactin in man.
- Fredholm BB & others. (1999, Mar). Pharmacological Review. Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use.
- Issa FG & Sullivan CE. (1982, Apr). Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. Alcohol, Snoring and Sleep Apnea.
- Jalilolghadr S1, Afaghi A, O’Connor H, Chow CM. (2011, Jun). Journal of Pakistani Medical Association. Effect of low and high glycaemic index drink on sleep pattern in children.
- Libert JP & others. (1991, Feb). Sleep. Relative and combined effects of heat and noise exposure on sleep in humans.
- Passos GS & others. (2010, Jun). Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia.
- Reid KJ & others. (2010, Oct). Sleep Medicine. Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia.