Nutrition and exercise help contribute to a healthy lifestyle, but sleep is another key component often overlooked. Sleep plays a vital role in performance, physical health, mental health and overall quality of life. Despite the recognized importance of sleep – many people around the world are not getting enough sleep each night. In fact, about half of the world is getting less sleep than what they need.
In today’s busy world, we are consumed with a non-stop schedule. This makes sleep a valued commodity that we often fall short on. In turn, we may turn to caffeine to help power us through the day, but it’s not an appropriate solution to continually rely on. There are no shortcuts for sleep, not even caffeine. Our bodies need adequate sleep to effectively function each day. Consistent lack of sleep has been linked to fatigue, low energy, and disruption in eating patterns. As you can see – without sleep – we aren’t doing the body justice.
Solutions to Improved Quality of Sleep
The quality and amount of sleep you get each night matters. The are many reasons why sleep quality and quantity may be disrupted, including irregular schedules, stress, excess caffeine close to bedtime, a brightly lit room, noise, uncomfortable sleeping temperatures and more. If quality sleep seems to be eluding your nights, try a few of these tips to improve your sleeping patterns:
- Relax. Start to wind-down and relax about an hour before sleep. Disengage in high-energy activities and/or stressful activates. Relax before going to bed to help create a better night-time routine.
- Create a Schedule. Follow a consistent sleep schedule by creating a consistent wake and sleep time.
- Create a Good Sleep Environment. Keep temperatures cool, yet comfortable. Temperatures that are too warm or too cool could potentially interfere with your ability to go to sleep and stay asleep.
- Limit Caffeine. After ingestion, caffeine can remain elevated in the body for about four to six hours. Plan your caffeine accordingly so it does not interfere with your sleep.
- Reduce Light. Reduce artificial indoor lighting and keep the room dark.
- Limit All Electronics. Electronic devices such as a phone, iPad, computer, or TV could interfere with your sleep. It can be challenging to disconnect, but it can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm impacting the body’s ability to sleep. Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed.
There are many small, but significant things you can do to improve your sleep. Focusing on small steps may translate into a tangible improvement in performance and quality of life. Healthy adults should aim to sleep at least seven to nine hours each night. Find opportunities where you could improve your nighttime routine and make smarter choices to help improve your quality of sleep. Find what works best for you and take a moment to plan how you can maximize your quality of sleep.