Sleep your 7 or 8 hours a day and wake up as if a truck had run over you? Do you not understand the reason for that tiredness that fills your body in the morning or even the whole day?
Getting a good night’s sleep directly affects your physical and mental health, as well as the quality of your waking period. Not being rested when you wake up can clearly decrease your daily energy level, your personal productivity, and even your emotional balance.
For this reason, it is important to follow a series of daily routines and small healthy habits before going to bed to achieve a more effective rest. In this way, you will ensure that the hours of sleep perform to the maximum, achieving a great positive impact on them.
The benefits are clear: in addition to waking up with the willpower to face your goals and priorities, you will find emotional balance and feel full of energy throughout the day.
What am I going to tell you?
With this article, I want to show you different options that I have been investigating to reduce the problems that surround the quality of sleep. It is not just about sleeping enough hours, but that those hours are of full rest.
I have summarized in 7 the tips that I want to show you. I have tried to present them as practical as possible as usual so that you don’t even have to think about how to implement them. They are ready to be put into practice.
1. Keep your sleep and wake cycle in sync
It is about always keeping the same daily rhythm. That is, go to bed and wake up at the same time so that your body knows for itself when it’s time to sleep and when not.
Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle is one of the best strategies for better sleep. If you manage to keep that schedule, you will feel much more energetic and refreshed when facing the day than if, on the contrary, you sleep at different times, even if you only modify that schedule by 1 or 2 hours.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time helps to set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. You can start by choosing the time when you usually start to feel tired. Keep in mind that if you get enough sleep, you shouldn’t even have to set an alarm clock. Otherwise, it means you have to go to bed earlier.
On the other hand, avoid sleeping more hours than usual on the weekend because you feel tired and want to compensate. According to researchers from the National Sleep Foundation, it’s best to take a 20-30 minute nap to balance your restful state. I repeat, 20 – 30 minutes. Taking a nap for a couple of hours only aggravates the symptoms of tiredness.
2. Be aware of light exposure
The light we receive during the day plays a fundamental role in our rest. There is a hormone that varies depending on our day/night cycle called melatonin. The brain has the function of secreting more of these hormones when it is dark, thus helping to fall asleep. On the contrary, with light exposure, we will go into alert mode due to a lack of melatonin.
That is why it is important to avoid light in the moments before bedtime and maintain or be in bright spaces in the hours when we need more activity.
Here are some examples of situations to consider:
Avoid bright screens before going to bed
The mobile, the television, the tablet, the computer. It may seem impossible in today’s society, but it is the toughest enemy that you surely have to fight. These types of devices have their own built-in light source which, according to research published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, interferes with our biological clock and disrupts our body’s cycle.
If you’re unable to for whatever reason, try at least lowering the brightness. I’ll give you my example without going any further, in which I make use of an application for automatic computer brightness alteration called f.lux, available for both PC and mobile. Use it and tell me 🙂
On the other hand, a television in particular, in addition to lowering our melatonin level, exposes us to programming that is rarely relaxing and suitable for going to sleep a few minutes later. Instead, try listening to music or reading a book to prepare your body for bed.
Make sure your room stays dark
Draw the blinds, use blackout curtains, or wear a sleep mask if none of the other options are possible.
Even cover devices that are in the room that emit light if you require it. You have to manage to make your bedroom the sanctuary for a perfect rest!
If you are one of the people who usually wake up in the middle of the night to go to the kitchen to drink water or go to the bathroom, try to use dim lights that minimize the impact so that you can return to sleep without much problem.
Start the day with sunlight
The sooner you expose yourself to natural light, the more it will help wake you up in the morning. Have breakfast on the terrace or by the window to wake up better.
In the same way and in relation to sunlight, try to spend as much time as possible under its exposure: when you exercise, on breaks from work, keeping the curtains in the house open, etc. It will always be better than the light of a lamp at home.
Make your bedroom enticing to sleep
Small routines before bedtime will serve to send powerful signals to your brain to relax and unwind. Sometimes it’s the small changes that make the difference
It’s about making your sleeping workspace (bedroom) as suitable as possible for it. Start with these basics:
• Make sure your bed is right for you. Each person has different tastes and needs when it comes to mattresses. We spend a third of our lives in bed to sleep, so do not hesitate to purchase a mattress that best suits your needs. Exactly the same thing happens with the pillow you use.
• Maintain a suitable temperature in the bedroom. Between 17 – 24 degrees, and that it is well ventilated so that you feel comfortable.
• Find the silence. You have no control over the noise from your neighbors or the traffic from cars on the street, but if it persists, you can try wearing earplugs.
• The bed to sleep, I mean, limits the functions of the bed so that your brain associates it with sleep. No working, eating, or watching TV from it (although it sounds complicated).
4. Choose wisely what you eat and drink
Eating habits have a strong weight for a quality rest. Food is directly linked to serotonin, a key hormone that helps promote quality sleep. Try to eat foods that calm your body before going to bed, which increase serotonin levels and prepare you for sleep.
Avoid strong or heavy dinners. Try to set dinner time earlier, with more separation from the time you are going to go to bed.
Foods that help:
• Lean protein, including low-fat chicken, turkey, fish, or cheese, as these contain high levels of omega-3 amino acids.
• Unsaturated fats, such as nuts. In addition, they help the health of your heart.
• Some drinks such as hot milk or herbal teas, such as chamomile or peppermint.
Foods to avoid:
• Food high in saturated fats or fried, will make digestion heavier.
• Carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread, cereals, or sweets.
• Spicy or acidic foods, as they can cause stomach problems and heartburn.
• Alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.
You know that exercise is a source of health, both physical and emotional. I am not going to stop and tell you why you should exercise or how you can start taking it as a routine, but I am going to tell you about the benefits it has when it comes to getting better rest.
People who exercise regularly sleep better and feel less tired during the day. Exercise helps reduce the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea, which causes breathing disorders when we are sleeping and decreases the quality of our rest.
Exercise helps you increase the speed of your metabolism, and your body temperature and stimulates other hormones, such as cortisol. The release of this hormone during the morning or afternoon is not harmful. However, it is necessary to avoid exercising before the night so that it does not interfere with going to sleep, so leave at least a space of 3 hours after you finish exercising. You will avoid waking up all the time.
There are exceptions, like stretching or sports like yoga, which can help promote sleep.
Your quality at bedtime will increase the more vigorous the exercise you practice. But even at low levels, spending 10-15 minutes a day helps, so you have no excuse not to. In the end, it’s all for your own benefit: being able to perform both throughout the day, carrying out your tasks more efficiently, and at night, while continuing to have a productive rest.
6. Clear and disconnect your mind
It is very common that both worries and stress invade your mind when you are trying to fall asleep, which makes getting to sleep a really complicated task.
Here comes the importance of acquiring good habits that help you relax, clear your mind, and disconnect from the world to focus on yourself. I propose a series of routines that you can do if this is your case:
• Listen to soft music or an audiobook.
• Read a book or magazine in dim light.
• Do easy, gentle stretches.
• Take a hot bath.
• Prepare the necessary things for the next day.
• Dim the lights in the house in the hours before going to sleep.
It may be that the level of worry or stress that you have is very high and you cannot get it out of your head completely, but surely if you follow these tips you will obtain a little mental calm that will help you with your sleep.
7. Learn ways to go back to sleep
Perhaps you are one of those people who, if you stay awake at night, cannot or has a hard time getting back to sleep. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that many people suffer from, but nothing that cannot be solved, or at least reduce its consequences:
• Empty your mind. It may be hard, but it’s what goes along with getting you back to sleep. Try not to stress about not being able to fall asleep again, don’t get frustrated about it. Instead of cursing yourself, stay out of your head and try to calm yourself with slow, deep breaths.
• Practice a non-stimulating activity. If you see that after 10-15 minutes you find it impossible to fall asleep again, try doing some quiet activity, such as reading a book with the light at low intensity or meditating for a few minutes. And of course, do not turn on or consult the mobile. It will stimulate and distract you, just the opposite of what you need.
• Put off your great ideas. It is possible that you wake up with some brilliant idea that you have had. It’s not unreasonable, it happens to a lot of people. It is time to write it down so that it is not forgotten, but not to start developing it. Always leave a paper and pencil on your bedside table to write down what you think is convenient, but solve it the next day. It will be much more productive if you do it rested.
Tiredness from lack of sleep is all too common. If you are one of those people who suffer from it, start to remedy it today.
Even if you think it’s not important, it is. Your day will go by more slowly, it will be less productive and in the long run, it can aggravate the problems.
And what I always say: don’t try to start with everything at the same time. Take one, put it into practice, and do not start with another until you have it well mastered. The least you need here is more stress from wanting to cover all these routines.
And you, do you sleep well at night, or do you have difficulties doing so? Did you know these tips or has any in particular caught your attention?
Have a great day! 🙂
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