How To Get Better Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep starts with the behaviours we do when we first wake up. Throughout the day our behaviours will either enhance, or disrupt, our ability to get in a solid 7.5 hours or more. In this article, discover 15 ways to get a better night’s sleep.
During our recent podcast interview with Rick Tiedemann, he outlined a few key behaviours that impact the amount and quality of our sleep. Watch the video below to hear Rick’s suggestions, and read the article underneath to learn 15 ways to get a better night’s sleep.
When Should You Consider A Sleep Study
During a sleep study, or polysomnography, youll be monitored overnight to determine how wellor poorlyyou sleep. These are usually done at a sleep clinic or the sleep disorders unit of a hospital. Youll wear sensors on your scalp, temples, chest, and legs, and a small clip on your finger or ear. A computer will check your brain waves, eye movements, heart rate, breathing patterns, and blood oxygen levels as you doze.
Who might benefit? A sleep study can help pinpoint your problem if you have symptoms such as snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness, when you display unusual movements or behaviors at night, or when medical therapies for insomnia havent helped enough, Morgenthaler says.
A sleep study can also help diagnose obstructive sleep apnea numerous brief pauses in breathing during sleep. Untreated sleep apnea raises the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. And almost 80 percent of the estimated 29 million Americans with OSA havent received a diagnosis.
If OSA is strongly suspected, you might be able to do a home sleep apnea test. In this case, youll wear a monitoring belt around your belly, attach a clip to your finger, and place an airflow sensor under your nose before bed. Afterward, a technician will analyze the results. But this test is helpful only in pinpointing OSA thats moderate to severe.
Editors Note: This article also appeared in the May 2018 issue of Consumer Reports On Health.
Insomnia Is Common In Older Adults
Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults age 60 and older. People with this condition have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Insomnia can last for days, months, and even years. Having trouble sleeping can mean you:
- Take a long time to fall asleep
- Wake up many times in the night
- Wake up early and are unable to get back to sleep
- Wake up tired
- Feel very sleepy during the day
Often, being unable to sleep becomes a habit. Some people worry about not sleeping even before they get into bed. This may make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Some older adults who have trouble sleeping may use over-the-counter sleep aids. Others may use prescription medicines to help them sleep. These medicines may help when used for a short time. But remember, medicines arent a cure for insomnia.
Developing healthy habits at bedtime may help you get a good nights sleep.
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Throw Away Your Worries
Sit down with a blank piece of paper one to two hours before bed each night. Then write down all of your thoughts, especially anything that is bothering you. It could be what youre going to do at work tomorrow, the phone calls you have to make, or the bills you have to pay. If most of what youve written down is stuff that youre worried about, then crumple up the paper and throw it in the trash thats called discharging your thoughts, said Dr. Ilene M. Rosen, a sleep medicine doctor and associate professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The act of dumping your thoughts on a piece of paper and throwing it away is a symbolic gesture that empowers you and calms your mind, said Dr. Rosen. You had those thoughts and now theyre gone, she said.
Exercising For Better Sleep
Working out is great for your body and mind and it can also help you geta good nights sleep. But, for some people, exercising too late in the daycan interfere with how well they rest at night.
Based on available studies, We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality, says Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. , medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital. But theres still some debate as to what time of day you should exercise. I encourage people to listen to their bodies to see how well they sleep in response to when they work out, she adds.
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Reduce Irregular Or Long Daytime Naps
While short power naps are beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep.
Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night .
In fact, in one study, participants ended up being sleepier during the day after taking daytime naps .
Another study noted that while napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function, longer naps can harm health and sleep quality .
However, some studies demonstrate that those who are used to taking regular daytime naps dont experience poor sleep quality or disrupted sleep at night.
If you take regular daytime naps and sleep well, you shouldnt worry. The effects of napping depend on the individual .
Long daytime naps may impair sleep quality. If you have trouble sleeping at night, stop napping or shorten your naps.
Your bodys circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset.
Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality .
One study noted that participants who had irregular sleeping patterns and went to bed late on the weekends reported poor sleep .
Other studies have highlighted that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signal your brain to sleep .
If you struggle with sleep, try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times. After several weeks, you may not even need an alarm.
Reserve Your Bedroom For Rest & Recovery
If you can, creating separation in your home or apartment can really make a difference. Reserving your living room for media consumption and making it home base for all your screens can get you in the habit of sticking to tip #1 in this list. Taking the TV out of the room, leaving your phone charger on the kitchen counter, or making sure your work from home setup isnt next to your bed can help you create an environment reserved only for sleeping. Your internal clocks respond to these sleep cues and your body will thank you.
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Ideas For Better Sleep
Most teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. But many teens have trouble sleeping. Lack of sleep can affect everything from our emotions to how well we focus on tasks like driving. It can affect sports performance, increase our chances of getting sick, and may be linked to weight gain in some people.
How can we get the sleep we need? Here are some ideas:
Everyone has a sleepless night once in a while. But if you regularly have trouble sleeping and you think it’s affecting your mood or performance, talk to your doctor.
Back Off Of Blue Light
Smart phones, e-readers, tablets, computer screens, TVs, and digital clocks emit blue light, a short frequency of light that may be harmful to the eyes and disrupt sleep. Minimize screen time for several hours before bedtime to get a good night’s rest. Wearing orange tinted glasses that block out blue light may also be helpful. Apps are available for your computer, tablet, and smartphones that prevent the screens from emitting blue light. Besides blue light exposure, it makes sense to power down several hours before bedtime to maximize your chances of getting a good night’s rest. Cover up any displays that may be visible from your bed, like a digital clock. Black out curtains can block out ambient light from outside.
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Day : Put Down Your Phone
You’re probably well aware of the issues that arise due to the blue light emitting from electronic devices . This type of light messes with your synthesis of melatonin , which in turn interferes with sleep, Dr. Brown says.
“At least two hours before you climb into bed, you should think about putting any sort of screen-related stimulation away,” Dr. Singh says.
Not only is the light an issue, but engaging with social media, skimming news stories and other phone activities will rev up your brain.
This is likely a big shift in habits, so take it slow: Cut off your screen time 15 minutes earlier than usual, then inch to an even earlier screen curfew.
Try moving your phone charger to a room you wont visit close to bedtime . Plug in your phone in the evening before you commence your wind-down routine. That way, you wont be tempted to engage with it.
But If You Have Something To Look Forward To Youre More Likely To Go To Bed And Earlier And The Amount Of Sleep You Get Before Midnight Is Crucial
This will also help relax you, which is usually the #1 reason why we cant fall asleep were too wound up.
Peter, my partner is a night owl and gets his second wind at night, so I frequently say to him, lets go to bed and laugh! Its kind of an odd thing to say, but it worksand gets us both in the mood to get ready for bed quickly, and helps us both relax.
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Day : Perfect Your Wind
You can’t fall asleep in a snap of the fingers. Instead, you’ll need a wind-down routine. Dr. Singh compares it to going on a flight: Your plane may take off at 10 p.m., but you’ll need to arrive at the airport well over an hour prior to takeoff so you can go through security, check your bags and so on.
He recommends a four-stage relaxation process:
Collectively, these steps will leave you feeling relaxed and help prep your brain for bedtime. No need to overhaul the pre-bedtime hour in a flash. Try adding a habit a day until you’ve got all four in place.
Avoid Alcohol And Caffeine
If you do have a snack before bed, wine and chocolate shouldn’t be part of it. Chocolate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. Surprisingly, alcohol has a similar effect. It makes you a little sleepy, but it’s actually a stimulant and it disrupts sleep during the night. Also stay away from anything acidic or spicy, which can give you heartburn.
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Working On Yourself: 3 Useful Tips
Getting enough deep sleep isnt just about your environment and sleep hygiene. It is also about your and your mental and physical health. To get enough deep sleep you need to be mentally relaxed, calm, and prepared for sleep. Heres how youll achieve this
- Try not to worry before bedtime. However, if overthinking and worrying start to creep on you as youre trying to sleep, try writing down all of your worries. After you write everything down, put the paper away, and tell yourself youll take care of your worries in the morning. This way, youll schedule your worry time for when youve gotten enough of sleep.
- Try to practice relaxation regularly. Throughout the day, try to do some breathing exercises, yoga, or any other physical activity that calms you down. Go for a swim, walk, run, or even dance. Do some meditation in nature, listen to some calming music, or try painting. This will prepare you to sleep much better than you would expect.
- Try some problem-solving exercises if theres something particular that worries you before bedtime. You can start by identifying the problem and all the challenged that come with it. Try to look at the problem calmly, because this is just a challenge, not a catastrophe. Continue by brainstorming solutions, and try to be creative. Choose the best solutions, put a plan in place, set some goals, and finally get rid of worries.
Build The Skill: Reframe Your Thoughts
Write down the thoughts or beliefs that come up when you dont sleep well.
- Ill never sleep well again.
- I cant work out / think clearly / be in a good mood because Im so tired.
- My bad sleep is going to cause me to get some terrible illness, like cancer or heart disease.
Notice how worried thoughts tend to:
- Use absolutes
- Predict the future
- See things as all-or-nothing
Now, reframe those beliefs using a nuanced perspective.
- I might lose sleep occasionally, but other nights will probably be okay.
- Im not feeling my best, but I can do some exercise / work and maybe find a few moments of joy in my day.
- Sleep is just one aspect of good health. If I dont sleep well, I can still make sure I eat nutritious foods, drink enough water, and maybe get outside for a few deep breaths.
Compassion in particular can activate your calming nervous system. Imagine: all those people, just like you, staring at the ceiling. Send them some imaginary kindness for their suffering, and mentally reassure them that theyll be okay too.
Consider also what a growth mindset about sleep might look like. Nobody is doomed to be a bad sleeper forever.
- Im frustrated right now, but I believe in my ability to find solutions if I keep exploring.
- It feels like Ive tried all the strategies, but I wonder if there are things I could practice more consistently? Maybe someone can give me some feedback and coaching here.
Not ideal, but youll get over it.
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How Do I Get The Best Quality Sleep At Night
When you are asleep your body and your body heal. Lack of sleep can result in a myriad of problems, like energy levels during the day that are high or low and emotional imbalances that range between extreme happiness at one point and then sadness the next. even weight gain when left unchecked! Many people struggle to get the right amount of sleep and also what is the best option for their health as they settle to bedtime. Do they need to go outside for the fresh air? Do they watch TV until slipping to unconsciousness is more easy to do than it has ever been before? Enjoy video gaming until the dawn arrives sooner or later.
Sleep plays an essential role in healing and regaining health, so don’t let a absence of sleep impede the progress you make during this time of restGet more sleeping in this evening.
You deserve the best quality sleep possible, so put your money into yourself by making better decisions for both your body as well as your mind. You’ll be more content.
A healthy lifestyle can be a boon in tackling insomnia and sleep issues. Here are some suggestions regarding what you can have prior to the time you go to bed.
Have A Consistent Sleep
Who loves a good sleep-in to catch up on extra winks?
Were with you. However, delaying your wake time or hastening your bedtime can lead to problems long term.
Thats because oversleeping can reduce your sleep drive.
Your sleep drive is a biological hunger for sleep that accumulates while youre awake. When you sleep in, you delay that hunger which is why you might still be wide awake at 2 am the following night.
The solution? Spend only as much time in bed as you need and stick to the regular sleep-wake programming, even on weekends when you could lounge in bed until noon.
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Keep Noise To A Minimum
Keep the bedroom as quiet as possible to help you nod off at night. Some noise is unavoidable. Traffic outside, a barking dog, and dripping faucets can be distracting. Wear earplugs at night to drown out ambient noise. You can use a fan or a white noise machine to mask sounds. Fix leaky faucets, squeaking doors, and other noisy distractions around the house. Ask family members to keep the noise down after hours and respect your bedtime routine.