11 tips to a better night’s sleep

Beauty sleep

Did you know that sleeping 60 to 90 minutes more per night can make you happier and healthier? Meanwhile, lack of sleep is costing the United States over $411 billion annually in productivity!

Poor sleep can negatively affect your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function. It’s also linked to weight gain and increased disease risks.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not getting enough high quality sleep to optimize their health. Here’s how you can get a better night’s sleep:

1. Choose the Right Mattress

Bed quality has a significant impact on how well you sleep. A study showed that using the right mattress can help reduce back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and back stiffness by 59%. It also improves sleep quality by 60%.

Finding the best mattress is the key to avoiding discomfort, aches, and pains that can keep you up at night. You should also replace your mattress and bedding every 5 to 8 years for optimal health and comfort.

2. Optimize Your Bedroom Environment

Many environmental factors can affect your sleep quality, including temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangement. In one study, 50% of participants slept better when noise and light were reduced.

Create a quiet and relaxing bedroom environment that can help you wind down after a long day. Set the thermostat at around 70°F, which is an ideal sleeping temperature for most people. Also, use blackout blinds if necessary to block out external light. 

3. Increase Exposure to Bright Light During the Day

For some people, an out-of-sync circadian rhythm is to blame for sleepless nights. Exposure to natural sunlight or bright light during the day can help regulate your circadian rhythm, improving daytime energy level and sleep quality.

It’s found that 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day can improve sleep efficiency by 80%. While daily sunlight exposure is ideal, you can also use an artificial bright light device to help relieve sleep issues or insomnia.

4. Limit Blue Light Exposure at Night

Again, our circadian rhythm is at work here — when you’re exposed to blue light (e.g., from TV, computer, or smartphone screens) during the evening, your brain thinks that it’s still day time. It reduces the production of hormones (e.g., melatonin) that are responsible for helping you relax and sleep.

You can download apps to reduce or block blue lights from your computer and phone screens or wear blue light blocking glasses. You should also turn off bright lights, including TV and computers, two hours before bedtime.

5. Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate your circadian rhythm, maintain a consistent melatonin level, and improve long-term sleep quality. Aligning your circadian rhythm with sunrise and sunset is particularly helpful if you experience sleep issues.

Upgrade your daily routine so you can get into a regular sleep/wake cycle, even during the weekend. In particular, try to wake up naturally at around the same time every day. Do this for a few weeks and you’ll be able to establish a new healthy routine.

6. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

While consuming caffeine can help enhance focus, energy level, and sports performance, doing so late in the day can worsen sleep quality thanks to its stimulating effects. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages 6 to 8 hours before bedtime, especially if youre sensitive to caffeine.

Drinking alcohol at night can also impact your sleep quality by causing or worsening the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns. It also changes melatonin production and lowers human growth hormone, which helps regulate the circadian rhythm.

7. Keep Your Naps Short

Although a short power nap can help you feel refreshed and energized, long or irregular napping during the day can affect your sleep because it can confuse your internal clock.

A study has found that napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function but taking longer naps may lower your sleep quality at night. If you have been napping during the day and having trouble sleeping at night, try to stop napping or shorten your naps.

8. Take the Right Supplements

In one study, half of the subjects fell asleep faster and experienced a 15% improvement in sleep quality after taking a melatonin supplement, which can also help your body adjust to a new time zone when you’re traveling.

Furthermore, you can take other supplements that aid relaxation, such as ginkgo biloba, valerian root, magnesium, and L-theanine. Try one supplement at a time and check with your healthcare provider before using them, especially if you’re taking any medication.

9. Practice a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Practicing relaxation techniques before bed can improve sleep quality and even treat insomnia. You can try listening to relaxing music, reading a book, meditating, and deep breathing.

You can also incorporate a hot bath, foot bath, or warm shower into your bedtime routine, as they are found to help improve overall sleep quality.

10. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activities can enhance sleep quality and reduce symptoms of insomnia. In fact, it’s found to cut the time to fall asleep by 55% and reduce total night wakefulness by 30% while increasing total sleep time by 18%.

However, exercising too late in the day may cause sleep problems because of its stimulatory effect, thanks to the production of hormones such as epinephrine and adrenaline. Experiment with your exercise routine and find a time that works best for you.

11. Rule Out a Sleep Disorder

Your sleep problem may be caused by an underlying health condition, such as sleep apnea — which affects up to 24% of men and 9% of women. Other common issues that can impact sleep quality include sleep movement disorders and circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders.

If you have been struggling with sleep for a while, you should consult your healthcare provider to see if a health condition is preventing you from getting the important shuteye you need.