It’s pretty hard to find an adult who is happy with the amount of sleep they’re getting or feels like they have enough energy every day. With busy lives and jam-packed schedules, sometimes sleep becomes our last priority even though not getting enough sleep can have some pretty serious health consequences and long-term effects on our wellbeing. So even if you can’t get ten hours of shut-eye a night, here are some ways that you can improve the quality of your sleep and wake up feeling a bit more well-rested.
1. Stick To A Schedule
Establishing a regular sleep pattern, by going to the bed around the same time and getting up around the same time every day, improves the quality of your sleep because it allows your circadian rhythm to function properly and operate at its peak. This means that it can ensure hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released before you wake up which means that you’ll wake up feeling ready for the day. Another benefit is that if you struggle with feeling too buzzed or awake at night, having a sleep routine will help your body to know when to feel tired. This can be a hard habit to form at first but by using alarms and being conscious of when you’re going to bed you can train yourself to have a sleep schedule in a few short weeks.
2. Be More Active
Exercising stimulates the body and can activate an alerting mechanism in our brain that makes us feel more energised and awake. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to exercise a night before bed but, that being said, being active on a daily basis can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly. Exercise can help you deal with stress and anxiety that may be affecting your ability to sleep well and it can also strengthen circadian rhythms to stimulate deeper sleep. Try and aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week and if you’re concerned about feeling too energised post-workout, do your exercise early in the morning.
3. Eat More Lightly Before Bed
Eating too much before bed can lead to weight gain and metabolic changes but it can also affect the quality of your sleep. While being too hungry can also lead to a restless sleep, going to bed too full can be physically uncomfortable and also make it hard to get to sleep as your metabolism starts working making more difficult for your body to feel tired. This doesn’t mean you should skip dinner completely but instead try and eat earlier so that you don’t eat in the two or three hours before you go to bed. Avoid fatty, acidic, spicy or sugary foods before bed. If you’re feeling peckish, try snacking on a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.
4. Create A Bedtime Ritual
As well as having a regular bedtime, another thing that can help you have a better sleep each night is to have a soothing bedtime ritual. Having a ritual before you go to bed can act as a sleep cue. Sleep cues are an idea often used with babies but it’s an idea that adults can benefit from too. Planning a relaxing routine will help to prime your brain for sleep. This could be as simple as having a pillow spray that you use just before you get into bed or having a relaxing bath in the hour before bedtime. Meditation or a cup of tea can also help.
5. Invest In A Nightguard
One of the sleep disorders that can severely impact the quality of people’s sleep is bruxism or nighttime teeth grinding. This affects one in ten people and not only has major implications for dental health but can lead to disrupted and uncomfortable sleep. As well as this, the noise of severe teeth grinding can affect the quality of sleep of the grinder’s partner, which means two people waking up tired! The best way to prevent nighttime teeth grinding is to invest in a custom-fitted mouthguard. Wearing a nightguard not only protects your teeth from damage, it also prevents you from the physical act of grinding and because it is designed for your mouth specifically, it is comfortable to wear and easy to breathe. This means both you and your partner will sleep more restfully and you won’t wake up with the sore jaw a night of grinding can give you.
6. Put Away Those Screens
We live in the digital age and sadly, it’s starting to affect our sleep. Screen time at night stops us from falling asleep easily because it stimulates our brains and tells us we’re not ready for bed. This can lead to sleep deprivation and difficulty relaxing before bed. Screen time can create the hormones of cortisol and melatonin that both are aversive to sleep. To prevent this, try and avoid any screen use, whether it’s your phone, a tablet or the TV, at least two hours before bed. Instead, read a book, listen to the radio or do some meditation.
7. Limit Alcohol
While some people might rely on alcohol to help them fall asleep, drinking too much actually negatively affects the quality of your sleep. After a night of drinking, you can’t ever reach the deepest level of sleep so even though you might fall asleep easily or sleep for a long time, it doesn’t mean you’ve had a good sleep. Alcohol can interrupt your circadian rhythms, affect the normal production and release of chemicals in the body that triggers sleepiness and aggravate breathing problems. It can also lead to disturbed sleep because alcohol means more trips to the bathroom and increases the likelihood of snoring.