The National Sleep Foundation recommends a person should get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night for optimum health. In this hectic day and age, where time is money 40% of people actually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Why is proper sleep necessary? Besides being a basic human necessity, sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle. The benefits are endless: sleeps helps improves memory, curb inflammation, increase physical stamina, maintain a healthy metabolism and lower stress, among dozens of other health benefits.For many, the problem is falling asleep in the first place. 30-35% of adult Americans experience brief symptoms of insomnia throughout their lives and the culprit is often bad bedtime habits. In order to avoid wasting hours on getting good sleep, here are some tips to optimize your sleep in order to give you the best sleep of your life today:
Avoid electronic devices before bed
In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it was revealed that people who used electronic devices before bed experienced more disruptive sleep and felt more tired in the morning than individuals who read from printed publications. It turns out the blue light from computer screens slows down melatonin production, the hormone that aids in proper sleep. To avoid sleep delays of up to an hour and half, try reading from a printed book or avoiding electronic devices altogether right before bed. Heavy light exposure before sleep should be avoided in general, not just from your computer screen. If achieving a thoroughly dark room is impossible in your situation, consider blackout curtains and eye masks to provide you with the ideal sleep environment.
Turns out working out can go a long way in boosting the quality of your sleep. Studies reveal that long term exercise can not only speed up the rate at which you fall asleep but the quality of sleep as well. Your body experiences an increase in body temperature during a workout and the post-exercise drop in temperature afterward can boost the rate at which you fall asleep. Exercise also affects your body’s circadian rhythm which regulates your physiological processes (including when to sleep!).
Cut off caffeine early in the day
Researchers have learned that drinking caffeinated drinks before bed can turn your body clock back by one hour. Caffeine delays the boost in melatonin (the sleep hormone) your body receives before you sleep, causing your body’s clock to reset. In fact, it’s recommended you stop drinking caffeinated beverages as early as 3pm. While caffeine enters your bloodstream swiftly and provides an energizing effect within 15 minutes of consumption, it actually takes up to five hours for caffeine to be eliminated from your body.Even drinking a double espresso three hours before bed can impact your sleep cycle.
Avoid napping throughout the day
I know better than anyone how amazing a mid afternoon nap can feel. A blissful one hour nap never hurt anyone, right? Wrong. Long naps can actually interfere with nighttime sleep. If you are going to take a nap, experts recommend getting your rest in between 2-3 pm in the afternoon and keeping it to 10-30 minutes maximum. Any longer and you will experience grogginess and disorientation after you wake up, as well as sleep disruptions throughout the night.
Try out a white noise machine
It should come as no surprise that environmental noise can have an impact on your sleep but did you know just how much of a hindrance external sounds can be? According to the World Health Organization’s noise level guidelines, noise levels 55 db and higher are considered a dangerous noise level for public health.Higher noise levels can significantly increase sleep disturbances (as well as increase cardiovascular disease risks). A running washing machine, background music and normal conversation are all examples of sounds that sit at 55 db or higher. Night time environmental noises sounds like this can arouse and affect sleep cycles which may impact health. Using a white noise machine can help drown out environmental noises. It may seem redundant but white noise machines’s positive sounds can in fact muffle negative environmental noises. There are dozens of white noise sound apps available on the market, so the next time you have trouble sleeping, try out out a white noise app like Sleep Pillow to help you get restful sleep.
Monitor your room temperature
According to a recent study, room temperature makes the biggest difference in how well you rest at night, more so than even light and time. Research shows that setting your thermostat between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-19 degrees Celsius) is the ideal temperature for getting restful sleep. Your core body temperature needs to drop a few degrees in order to initiate sleep and keeping your room cool helps facilitate this. If your core body temperature is too high, your brain will have problems transitioning from being awake to being asleep.It’s the little things that make the most difference in getting proper sleep. Your surrounding environment are often the main causes of disruptive sleep and continuing with these distracting habits can have a significant impact on your health. If you often experience sleepless nights, try out one of these simple tips the next time you want to get your zzz on!