Nothing is more important than taking care of yourself. Over the last few years, more and more people are becoming aware of overall well-being. This includes your spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. There are a lot of things that are important for you to maintain your physical and mental health. These things include regular exercise, a healthy diet, and most importantly, a good night’s sleep.
Did you know that not having good quality sleep can have negative effects on your cognition, brain function, physical performance, and even your hormones? It can cause weight gain, irritation, lethargy, absenteeism at work, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and a low immune system. If you work towards getting good and consistent sleep every night, it can increase your productivity, give you energy, and can help you be healthy.
During such modern and fast-paced times, our lives are quite hectic. We want to be successful and are always running to be ahead of others. This leaves us with less time to take care of ourselves and to take a break. This is the major reason why sleep quantity and quality are declining. It is important to optimize your health, for which getting a good night’s sleep is quite essential.
Increase your natural light exposure
There is a natural time-keeping clock in our body that is called the circadian rhythm system. This influences various processes in your body, hormones, and brain. This is what makes you stay awake and fall asleep at night. This system tells your body when it is time for it to sleep. People who suffer from insomnia have shown that daytime bright light exposure has the ability to improve the duration and quality of sleep.
According to a study conducted in 2019, this exposure reduced the time it took for someone to fall asleep by 80%. Getting natural sunlight helps your circadian rhythm system run smoothly. This can help you get more daytime energy along with improving your sleep. Just two hours of bright light exposure can help increase your sleep time by 2 hours. Even if you experience average sleep, this can help you improve it.
Stay away from white and blue light exposure in the evening
Exposure to natural sunlight in the day is quite beneficial for you, but light exposure at nighttime is just that harmful. Your circadian rhythm system needs signals to sleep in the night so that your body can start producing melatonin to help you sleep. If your brain is exposed to white and blue light in the evenings, this will trick your system into thinking that it is still day. This will delay your melatonin production.
According to a study in 2018, hospital patients reported poor quality and less duration of sleep due to the white lights. The blue light that comes from electronic devices such as TV and smartphones can be quite bad in this regard. There are a few ways that you can reduce your nighttime blue light exposure, such as:
- Wear glasses that help block blue light.
- Download apps to help block blue light.
- Stop watching TV or looking at your phone at least two hours before you go to bed.
Eliminate coffee from your evening routine
We all have a lot of work to do that we need energy for. A lot of people have the habit of consuming caffeine late in the day to help them finish their work. It might give you instant energy, but in the long run, it is not good for you. Caffeine has numerous benefits, but not if it is consumed in the evening.
It can stimulate your nervous system and can stop your body from relaxing naturally at night. Research has shown that having caffeine 6 hours before bed can have a negative impact on sleep quality. It is well-advised to have your coffee in the day, and if really needed, have one cup in the afternoon. Stick to decaffeinated coffee if you crave it in the evening.
Stop long and irregular daytime naps
Short power naps can be quite advantageous. They can give you a jolt of energy, leave you feeling refreshed, and can boost performance. Irregular and long naps are a different story. These can negatively affect your sleeping pattern and quality since it affects your circadian rhythm system. A study even showed that participants felt more sleepy during the day if they took a nap. Napping for just 30 minutes can help enhance daytime brain function while longer naps can harm sleep quality.
Follow good sleep hygiene
The most important thing is to follow good sleep hygiene. It is vital that you create an environment that you can sleep in. Do not have alcohol and caffeine 6 hours prior to bedtime, keep screens away at night, and create a comfortable and relaxing environment for yourself. Have clean and plush mattresses that help you feel calm. Do not eat or work in your room, leave it just for sleeping. Create a good sleep time routine such as washing your face, taking a shower, or having hot milk before bed.
Take a good melatonin supplement
The key hormone that helps you sleep and tells your brain when it is time to go to bed is melatonin. These are produced naturally in your body and are also available as supplements. These are extremely popular as a sleep aid. These are often given to people with insomnia and can be called one of the easiest ways to help you fall asleep faster.
There are no withdrawal effects that are seen with taking this supplement. Just 2mg of melatonin can help you fall asleep and feel more energetic the next day. If you are trying to adjust to a new time zone or have a really bad sleep cycle, melatonin can be quite beneficial in helping you change it. Some countries need a melatonin prescription while in others it is available over the counter.
It is important to improve not just the duration but also the quality of sleep. This can help you in improving cognition and feeling more healthy, and happy.