Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. The effects may not be as noticeable in the short term, but over the longer term lack of sleep can have severe health related consequences.
There’s many factors that can impact your sleep - work stress, responsibilities, family problems, 3am football games (if you’re anything like me). Many of these factors don’t have quick solutions, so expecting to get relief through that route might be a big ask. However, we can adopt certain habits that encourage better sleep:
Develop a Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, including weekends. Consistency reinforces your body’s sleep wake cycle. This might be hard to do at first but once you get into the habit, your body will automatically start shutting down when you reach your sleep time.
If you’re unable to sleep within 20 mins, get out of the room and do any relaxing activity like listening to soothing music or meditation.
Avoid blue light: Avoid using your phones or laptops before you sleep. Blue light blocks a hormone called melatonin, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep. So using your phone while lying on your bed is a big no-no.
Cooler bedding: Your body needs to cool down for a good sleep. It does so by giving off heat into surrounding areas. Bedding made from low quality materials like polyester or polycotton will trap this heat and moisture. So if you wake up feeling hot, sweaty and bothered, it’s time to change your bedding. Look into alternatives like Eucalyptus Sheets - that are highly breathable and moisture wicking. These keep you cool, dry and comfy all night long.
Exposure to sunlight: This might sound strange but getting regular exposure to sunlight can really help with a good quality sleep. The light/dark cycle of the sun has a powerful effect on the circadian clock, sleep, and alertness. Bright light in the morning will make you feel sleepy and fall asleep earlier in the evening. Try to go for a quick walk every morning to make this into a habit. If you’re short on time, you can look to get as much sunlight as possible into your house in the mornings.
Create a restful environment:Create a dark, cool and quiet environment when you try to sleep. Exposure to light in the evenings can make it more challenging to fall asleep.
Avoid listening to any music or content that requires focus. If you need sounds to fall asleep, try listening to relaxing sleep music or white noise.
Exercise: Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. However, avoid being active too close to bedtime.
Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.
Know when to contact your health care provider
Although the above lifestyle adjustments can support you in your journey to a better sleep, it is imperative to speak to your doctor (especially in persistent cases) to identify the root cause and set a treatment plan based on your overall health.