Sleep is probably one of the most important aspects of your health. It can affect your immune system, metabolism, memory, learning, motor skills, alertness, and even exercise performance. If you're having trouble sleeping through the night or feeling rested in the mornings, it may be time to evaluate your sleeping habits.
Are your habits conducive to good quality sleep, or hindersome? Find out what you can do to improve your sleep with these five lifestyle tips.
1. Be consistent with your bedtime.
Consistency is key for your internal clock and sleep drive. This is a lot easier when you have a full-time job, but it's important for everyone. So, even if you don't have any pressing matters to wake up for, create a consistent bedtime for yourself and only break it on special occasions. This will help you fall asleep faster and actually sleep deeper at night, so that you wake up feeling rested.
2. Avoid bright white lights before bed.
This includes smartphones, laptop screens, televisions, and tablets. Set your devices to automatic lighting, so that they'll dim in the dark. Studies have found that constant exposure to bright lights at night can suppress melatonin levels, which your body relies on to determine the time of day. If you're trying to stay awake all night, keep the lights on. Other studies show that exposing yourself to too much light at night can trick your body into thinking that it's day time, throwing off your internal clock.
3. Learn to associate your bed with sleep.
Train your body to sleep when you get in bed. If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Go to another room and read, do some pillar holds, or stretch, then try again. Same goes for waking up in the middle of the night. Once your body learns to associate your bed with sleep, you'll be able to fall asleep faster.
4. Get a sleep cycle alarm clock.
Gone are the days of relying on single-purpose alarm clocks. If you use your smartphone to wake you up every morning, consider a sleep cycle alarm clock app. It works by monitoring your movements during the night to measure your sleep patterns. With this information, it can wake you up during your light sleep phase rather than pulling you out of deep sleep, which is the restorative sleep that we need so badly. I tested a few apps, and these were my favorite:
- Smart Alarm Clock (Free)
This is my favorite of the free apps that I tried. You can set a soothing noise to fall asleep to like rain, ocean waves, white noise, and TONS more. You can toggle between a sleep cycle alarm and standard alarm. You set the time that you want to wake up, and the app does the rest.
Your phone has to be placed somewhere on your bed, and it doesn't work well if you have a fancy TempurPedic bed that doesn't move, so consider yourself warned. Once you wake up, the app will tell you how much light and deep sleep you logged for the night, and it gives you a sleep quality percentage, based on how often you woke up during the night. If you want to see monthly statistics, that requires an upgrade to a whopping $1.99.
- Sleep Cycle alarm clock ($1.99)
This is my favorite sleep cycle app that costs money. It's pretty amazing. This app also lets you play soothing music to fall asleep and automatically turns it off once you're asleep. It can also wake you up with Philips hue light to emulate sunrise if you have blackout curtains or wake up when it's dark out. This app even has a weekend setting so that you can track your sleep without having to set an alarm. It's pretty rad.
5. Invest in ear plugs.
If you're a light sleeper, you may want to try sleeping with ear plugs. If the sound of footsteps wakes you up at night, then raves next door, loud upstairs neighbors, and snoring dogs won't help anything. Try drowning out the noise with a noise machine, or some noise-reduction ear plugs. If you have a tiny human in your house that requires your attention every night, consider taking turns with late-night and early mornings feedings so that one of you can sleep through the night. If that doesn't work, just count down the days until their next phase of life: sleeping through the night!
If you're looking for lifestyle modifications to improve your quality of sleep, try these five tips. Have another tip that helps you sleep at night? Share your experience below in the comments!
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