Who doesn’t love sleeping? Sleep rejuvenates our minds and bodies. The importance of it goes way past just improving your mood or getting rid of the dark circles under your eyes.
Getting enough sleep is a key part of a healthy, high performance lifestyle. Sleep can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more.
During sleep most of your body system enter an anabolic state. This helps to restore your immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. All of these systems are vital for maintaining good mood, memory and cognitive function, as well as your immune and endocrine systems. A healthy endocrine system will secrete bursts of growth hormone (GH) during sleep, which is necessary to stimulate growth and human physical development.
A clinical review published in 2017 found that 30-50% of the UK population suffer with symptoms of insomnia.
Jason Silvernail is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, a Board-Certified in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, Fellowship-Trained in Manual Therapy and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist as well as a physiotherapist in the US Army. He recently presented at the PainCloud convention.
Here are 10 tips that were presented by him to form healthy sleeping habits. You may try to incorporate some of these into your own sleeping routine to improve your sleep quality:
1. Sleep In A Dark, Quiet And Cool Room
Keep your room dark as light reduces the secretion of the hormone melatonin. It naturally promotes sleep by telling the body that it is nighttime. Any light may confuse the brain between night and day reducing the release of melatonin. It is also important to keep your room cool and quiet, because this has shown to make the process of dozing off easier. As your body goes through different stages of sleep, unexpected noise or temperature may wake you up during your sleeps shallower cycles.
2. Go “Device Free” An Hour Before Bed
Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently published research showed that light emitting devices such as tablets, phones or e-readers in the hours before bedtime can severely affect your sleep in a negative way. In this study, participants who spent time on an iPad 4-hours before bedtime took longer to fall asleep. They were also found to be less sleepy in the evening, however more sleepier and less alert in the morning. The research also showed that the effects extend beyond sleep and may affect your overall alertness and circadian rhythm (body clock).
3. Use Bedroom For Sleep Only
Your bedroom should be the place where you feel the most relaxed. Aim to create the right environment for sleep by removing any light emitting devices, such as TVs or computers as they might negatively affect your sleep. You should only use your bedroom to relax and sleep. It is also wise to keep the bedroom tidy! Studies have show that a tidy bedroom improves your sleep.
4. Nap Wisely
A perfectly timed nap can provide you with enough energy to get you through the rest of the day. It is really easy to over-do it however. The good news is that research shows, getting a 20 minute nap in the afternoon can significantly increase your energy. The bad news is that a more extended nap can have an adverse effect on your sleep quality at night. This may ruin your sleeping pattern, so nap wisely.
5. Get Out Of Bed If You Can’t Sleep, Use 15 Minute Rule
If you spend a lot of time in bed awake you may become connected with being wake. This may lead your body to be frustrated or anxious about sleep. A study from University of Oxford found that using The Quarter-Of-An-Hour Rule promoted the bed-sleep connection. It suggests that if you are not asleep within 15-minutes of going to bed you should get out of bed. Going to another room until you are ready to return to bed for sleep might be a good idea!
6. Maintain A Consistent, Regular Bed Time Routine
A study published in BMC Public Health showed that going to bed at different times is associated with worse sleep quality and increased tiredness. The study also revealed that altered sleep schedules in shift workers was associated with greater risk of accidents, poorer immune system and a higher risk of developing chronic disease. These factors contribute to a shorter life expectancy.
7. Do Not Go To Bed Hungry, Go To The Bathroom First
Hunger pains have been shown to keep your brain mentally alert, making it more difficult to get quality full night’s sleep. In addition, getting insufficient sleep can impact the production levels of hormone ghrelin. Increased production of it boosts appetite, which might actually lead to weight gain. You should limit your intake of fluids before bedtime. Drinking too close to bedtime can cause the need to urinate at night, which will lead to a disturbed sleep cycle.
8. Finish Exercise 3 Hours Before Bedtime
Exercise may cause your muscles to be tense and your mind to be alert. Being in such an aroused state close to bedtime may make it difficult to fall sleep. In retrospect, conflicting research shows that people who exercise vigorously for 35 minutes before bedtime slept as well as they did on nights when they did no exercise. Furthermore, a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found 83% of people who exercised (regardless of the time of day) reported better and deeper sleep than those who did not exercise regularly.
9. No Alcohol Or Nicotine 3-6 Hours Before Bedtime
Disturbances in your sleeping pattern are a common side effect of nicotine withdrawal. This can cause your body to feel foggy and lethargic. The same thing goes for alcohol, which can help you fall asleep initially, but may cause you to wake up just a few hours into your sleep cycle.
10. Stop Caffein At Least 6 Hours Before Bedtime
You may feel like caffeine has no effect on your ability to fall asleep. In most cases however, this is inaccurate. In a study where participants denied having any effects on their sleep quality post-caffeine consumption, the actual effects were documented by sleep monitors. The study found caffeine to reduce sleep by approximately 1 hour even when coffee was consumed 6 hours before bedtime.
Try to implement even a couple of the tips outlined in this article. They will help you to form strong sleeping habits and improve the overall sleep quality because sleep leads to:
- Reduced Pain
- Improved Overall Physical Function
- Reduced Risk Of Future Medical Problems
- Improved Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety
- Improved Participation In Social Activities, Work, School Performance
- Improved Cognitive Function
Below we have added an infographic from the National Sleep Foundation to illustrate the necessary amount of sleep (hours) based on a person’s age