There are a number of reasons why you should be getting a good night’s sleep. It would be an article on its own for me to run through most of them. But it’s easier said than done to get your 8 hours perfect sleep a night, in fact a lot of people struggle to get a good night’s sleep.
Before turning to medication or other drastic measures to try and force your body to sleep, I recommended working on your sleep habits. Poor sleeping habits can have a massive negative impact on your life, and the lives of those around you.
This may sounds dramatic, but sleep deprived people are responsible for thousands of deaths a year. From motoring accidents, workplace accidents, and other accidents due to lack of concentration brought on by tiredness. If you’re tired you’re not able to think so fast, act as quickly, or calculate risk as well.
You need to think about your own health too. Your emotional well-being will suffer as well as your physical health. Prolonged sleep deprivation will lead to some serious health and emotional issues.
There have been many well publicized studies showing links between lack of sleep and conditions like; diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, and heart disease. Irregular sleep and sleeping disorders are also known to contribute to depression and anxiety, impact your love life, reduce testosterone in men, and probably most worryingly – double the risk of death from all causes.
The good news is that with the right sleep habits and some patience, you can improve the quality of sleep you’re getting each night. With a good night’s sleep you’ll be able to live a fuller, happier, and healthier life. I have personally seen people’s lives completely change from improved sleep. Here are 10 sleep habits that will set you on the right path to getting that good night’s sleep you’re looking for.
Keep a Similar Sleeping Pattern
Our bodies have natural sleeping and waking clocks built-in. Try to form a routine of going to bed at the same time each night, and waking at the same time too. If you are getting enough sleep you’ll find you wake naturally too, no need for an alarm clock.
Do this 7 days a week, although most of us have different schedules over the weekend, forming this cycle will ensure you get a much better night’s sleep.
Most adults need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Everyone’s requirements are slightly different, so you’ll need to find how much sleep suits you best. Going to sleep between 8.00 pm and midnight is recommended too, this gives your brain the most opportunity to get all the deep sleep it need to recharge.
Eat and Drink Sensibly before Bedtime
Going to bed feeling hungry or being too full will disrupt your sleep. You should allow at least an hour between eating and going to bed. Our metabolisms slow down at night, so food isn’t digested as effectively while we sleep. This can cause stomach pains, and interrupt our bodies healing process.
Equally as bad is going to bed too hungry. Anyone who has been in this position will know how distracting it can be, making falling to sleep more difficult. The compromise between the two is to have a light snack before sleeping if you’re really hungry.
Try not to drink a lot before going to bed either. Getting up to go to the bathroom in the night isn’t fun, and can ruin a good night’s sleep. Drinking alcohol can make a person feel sleepy, but it’s known to disrupt REM – the rapid eye movement deep sleeping phase.
Excessive alcohol consumption over a prolonged period can actually lead to sleep apnea. I strongly recommend against drinking caffeine and alcohol before sleeping.
Form a Bedtime Ritual
We all have lots of rituals that we may, or may not be aware of. Putting a ritual in to place before going to bed is a great way of telling our bodies it’s time to sleep, it’s helped me before.
Think about something you can easily do each night as part of your wind down process, maybe some light reading, watching a TV show, talking with a partner, having a soothing bath, or listening to some calm music.
Prepare Ideal Sleeping Conditions
If the environment where you sleep is not conducive to a good night’s sleep, what do you expect? If there a lots of loud noise where you sleep, like traffic outside, or loud machines, you need to do something about it. If you cannot soundproof your room sufficiently, you may need ear plugs.
You should have a calm, cool, and dark room too. Our brains actually associate darkness with being a time to sleep, so wear a total black-out eye mask if for whatever reason you cannot block out the light.
Having a comfortable bed is a massive factor too. You should have a firm mattress, some soft pillows, and comfortable bedding. If you have a partner in the bed too, make sure you have enough space!
Don’t Power Nap during the Day
There are some pros and cons to taking a power nap during the day. However, if you’re having difficulty sleeping at night it’s not advisable. It will upset your body clock and make it more difficult to get into a solid sleeping pattern.
Taking a quick power nap can be beneficial as a ‘top up’ to those who lead a hectic lifestyle. But be aware, more than 30 minutes will clear the neurotransmitters that cause sleepiness. So nap early afternoon if at all, that way you should still be able to nod off later.
Manage Your Caffeine Intake
Not many of us are able to avoid caffeine all together, and there is no reason to think you have to. If it’s a personal choice, that’s fine. But for those of us who consume caffeine need to time it accordingly.
Studies show that caffeine consumed six hours or less before trying to sleep will have an impact on the amount and the quality of our sleep. If you drink coffee and other caffeine fueled drinks, use them in the morning as an energy burst and try to tail off early afternoon.
Get Some Exercise Daily
Incorporating some form of physical exercise daily will have a positive impact on your sleep. Studies have shown a very real correlation between exercise and increased quality of sleep. In addition patients suffering with insomnia will experience less anxiety, and improved sleep.
There are numerous well-being benefits to exercise, and you’ll feel much better for it. It may take a few weeks for you to notice some significant changes to your sleep, but it’ll happen. Try not to exercise late in the day, it can be difficult to sleep when pumped from a workout. You need to be on the come down phase.
Don’t Clock Watch
It’s normal to wake in the night from time-to-time, but resist checking the time if you do. Checking the time will stress you out and make you aware of how long you have left till the morning. Don’t worry about what time it is until it’s time to get up, you’ll feel better for it.
Soothe Any Aches and Pains
If you are suffering with a few aches and pains don’t compound the problem overnight and let it hinder your sleep. Take some pain medication if need be, or massage any stiff areas before sleeping.
If you’re finding you wake up with back pain look at the arrangements of your pillows, or the type of mattress you have. Maybe consider a memory foam mattress if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep on springs. Try putting a pillow between your knees to reduce pressure when sleeping on your side.
If you are wound up by the stresses and problems throughout the day it’s not going to be easy to relax. You need to mentally relax as well as physically, and that is where meditation comes in.
By using relaxation techniques you can improve the speed in which you fall asleep, and the quality of sleep you’ll have. Learn about proper breathing techniques, mental relaxation methods, and ways to meditate effectively at home. Many are skeptical to start with, but few remain so after trying.
Incorporating as many of these sleep habits into your routine will improve the quality of your sleep. Making the most out of your time sleeping should be a priority, so start taking steps today to make a change.
You will feel mentally, emotionally, and physically better for it.
I’d love to hear any comments or feedback you may have regarding these sleep habits, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.