The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health. When you fall short of it, it can take a toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance and even your weight. Many people find it hard to get a good night's sleep and keep tossing and turning all through the night. Getting good quality sleep might seem like a distant dream to many. But there are several ways that can help you improve sleep quality so that you can kickstart your days with more energy and productivity.
What Hampers Your Sleep at Night?
There are various things that can cause poor sleep at night. Some of them are listed below:
- Late-night snacks:
Eating or drinking too close to your bedtime can cause heartburn and make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Feeling worried about your professional or personal life can keep you up at night.
If you're too hot or cold, it can affect the quality of your sleep.
Using electronic devices that have artificial lights before going to bed can make falling asleep difficult. Lights dictate your body's natural sleep pattern.
Drinking coffee or caffeine-related products late in the evening can cause poor sleep.
- Poor sleep schedule:
Not maintaining a healthy sleeping routine can disrupt sleep as well.
Raising your heart rate right before bedtime will make it harder for you to sleep.
- Sleep apnea:
This sleep disorder is marked by disruption in breathing during the night, which causes you to wake up abruptly.
How to Improve Sleep Quality?
Here are some sure shot ways to increase sleep time and improve sleep quality at the same time:
1. Increase Bright Light Exposure During the Day:
For the uninitiated, your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as circadian rhythm. It is something that affects your body, brain and even hormones, and helps you stay awake and tells your body when it's time to fall asleep. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day will keep this rhythm healthy. It will also improve daytime energy and night-time sleep quality and duration.
2. Reduce Blue Light Exposure in the Evening:
Just like exposure to light during the day is beneficial, night-time light exposure also has a negative effect. This is also due to the effect on your circadian rhythm, which tricks your brain into thinking that it's still daytime. This, in turn, reduces hormones like melatonin that helps you relax and get deep sleep. So, if you're wondering how to increase melatonin production, make sure that you reduce night-time blue light exposure.
Some of the methods you can use are:
- Wear glasses that block blue light
- Stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights a couple of hours before you sleep
- Install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone.
3. Reduce Long and Irregular Daytime Naps:
How to increase deep sleep? Simply avoid napping in the day! While short power naps can work in your favour, long and irregular naps during the day will disrupt the quality of your sleep at night. Sleeping in the day can confuse your internal clock, which makes it difficult to sleep at night.
4. Sleep and Wake Up at Consistent Times:
Again, your body's circadian rhythm functions on a set loop. It aligns itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times will help increase deep sleep. If you have an irregular sleeping pattern and go to bed late over the weekends, you will have to deal with poor sleep each night. If you're struggling with sleep, you need to try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed around the same time each day. After a few weeks, you will notice that there's an improvement in your sleep quality.
5. Avoid Consuming Caffeine Late in the Day:
Caffeine sure has a lot of benefits. A single dose of caffeine can enhance focus, energy and sports performance. But, consumption of the same in the evening can stimulate your nervous system and stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. So, if you're wondering how to improve sleep, cut down on your caffeine intake six hours before bedtime. Drinking large amounts of caffeinated drinks after 3-4 PM is not recommended. If you crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon, stick to decaffeinated coffee instead.
6. Quit Alcohol:
Having a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep as well as hormones. Alcohol is popular to cause and increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns. It can also alter the night-time melatonin production, which is crucial to maintaining your body's circadian rhythm. Hence, it's a good idea to quit alcohol or reduce the intake of the same if you can't entirely avoid alcoholic drinks.
7. Don't Eat Right Before Bedtime:
Eating late at night will leave you struggling all night long and that's no news. One of the sleep habits that can improve insomnia includes avoiding high carb meals at least four hours before bed. Even munching on salty or sugary snacks late at night should be avoided as they will affect the natural release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and melatonin, which disrupts your sleep. You can eat a low carb diet as it helps improve sleep quality.
8. Take a Relaxing Bath Before Bed:
A relaxing shower or bath before bedtime is another sleep habit that can improve insomnia to inculcate. A good warm water bath or shower at night can help improve overall sleep quality, especially for older adults. Taking a hot water bath 90 minutes before bed improves sleep quality and helps people get a sound sleep, says study. Alternatively, if you don't wish to take a full bath at night, just dip your feet in warm water to relax and improve your sleep so that you don't have to wonder how to increase sleep time.
Sleep plays an important role in your health. Insufficient sleep can increase the risk of obesity and other health conditions too. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is ideal to give your body enough rest in the night and feel energetic and productive throughout the day. If you're someone who is interested in optimal health and well-being it's crucial to make sleep a priority and incorporate some of the ways to improve sleep quality.
1. How can I fix my poor sleep?
Here are a few simple tricks that will help increase sleep time and quality:
- Practice relaxation before sleeping
- Avoid noise and bright light at bedtime
- Be comfortable in your bed and sleep position
- Eat early
- Skip afternoon naps
- Get daily exercise in the daytime
2. What to drink to sleep faster?
Drinks that can help increase deep sleep and make you sleep faster:
- Warm milk
- Malted milk
- Almond milk
- Valerian milk
- Decaffeinated green tea
- Herbal tea with lemon balm
- Pure coconut water
- Chamomile tea
3. How do you break a sleep cycle?
Ways to reset your sleep schedule if you feel like your rhythm is off:
- Increase morning light
- Exercise three to four times a week
- Adjust your schedule gradually and not all at once
- Avoid blue light before bed
- Don't take long naps
- Avoid eating before bedtime
- Adopt a relaxing bedtime routine.