On average, how many hours of sleep do you get a night? 5, maybe 6 hours on a good night? If you struggle to get your 8 hours of sleep you are not alone. In fact, 50% of Americans say that they feel sleepy throughout the day, and 35% of adults in the US report getting less than 7 hours of sleep every night. Noticeable signs of sleep deprivation include excessive sleepiness, frequent yawning, irritability, and daytime fatigue.
A good night's sleep is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your brain function, mood, immunity, memory, and weight. While coffee and energy drinks can temporarily boost energy, they aren’t enough to replace your body’s need for good-quality sleep. These stimulants can end up negatively affecting your sleep even more by making it harder to fall asleep at the end of the night. If you find yourself tossing and turning when it's time for bed or lying awake and the wee hours of the night, stay tuned, below are 5 tips to improve your sleep.
1. Increase your exposure to light during the day.
Your body has a natural 24-hour timekeeping clock called your circadian rhythm. These rhythms are mental, physical, and behavioral and they follow a 24-hour cycle. Your circadian rhythm responds to light and dark. When it’s light outside it helps you stay awake, and when it gets dark outside your circadian rhythm tells your body it’s time to sleep.
Natural sunlight or bright lights during the day helps to keep your circadian rhythm healthy and can improve daytime energy, sleep quality, and duration when it gets dark. Try making time to step outside each day and get some natural sunlight or you can invest in artificial sunlight devices or light bulbs.
2. Reduce blue light exposure at night
Blue light exposure comes from your electronics like cell phones, computer screens, and tv screens. Exposure to these lights signals your brain to wake up at night instead of winding down. Again, this is due to a disruption in your circadian rhythm. Exposing your brain to bright lights in the evening can trick your brain into thinking that it is still daytime.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that you cut off blue light exposure 2 hours before you are ready to go to bed, to give your brain ample time to wind down and get deep sleep. Other ways to cut down on blue light exposure include; wearing glasses that block blue light or downloading apps that block blue light on your devices.
3. Get yourself on a consistent sleep schedule
Following a sleep schedule is a sure way to improve your quality of sleep every night. Waking up at the same time every day and going to bed at the same time every night is another way to help your body regulate and keep up with its circadian rhythm.
4. Limit caffeine after a certain time of the day
While caffeine has been proven to give you energy and help your focus, consuming it too late in the day can stimulate your nervous system and prevent your body from relaxing at night. Caffeine can stay in your body for 6-8 hours, so consuming large amounts of caffeine later in the afternoon can negatively affect your sleep by keeping you awake at night.
If you’re craving a cup of coffee try to get it in before noon or stick with decaf after a certain time based on your bedtime.
5. Create a healthy bedroom environment
Optimizing your bedroom environment is key to getting a good night’s sleep. Your environment includes factors such as temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangement.
Creating a healthy environment can not only improve your sleep but has been proven to improve your mental and physical health. You can improve your bedroom environment and get better sleep by making your room as dark as possible at bedtime, keeping clutter at bay, reducing noise, keeping temperatures cool, and avoiding sleeping in your designated sleep area.
Sleep is essential for physical and mental health and should not be taken lightly. Lack of sleep can negatively affect your body and make it hard to focus and stay alert throughout the day. If you want to improve your sleep as well as optimize your health make it a priority to incorporate these tips!