Guest post by Dr. Omiete Charles-Davies
Getting a good night’s sleep is very important for your physical health, mental health, and overall quality of life.
With the hustle and bustle of our daily activities, a night of refreshing sleep may seem like a luxury. Not getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation can affect your level of productivity and energy levels.
For many of us, our day to day activities and busy schedules can keep our minds churning and over thinking, preventing us from getting the sleep that we need.
Making some adjustments to your day and nighttime habits can have a great impact on how well you sleep. This article aims to tell you how to get a more refreshing sleep despite having a busy schedule.
How To Get A More Refreshing Sleep
1. Be In Sync With Your Circadian Rhythm
Getting in sync with your circadian rhythm is very important in getting a refreshed sleep. Having a regular sleep-wake schedule keeps you more refreshed than sleeping the same number of hours but at different times. The following tips can be helpful.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day as this helps to set your internal clock and optimize your sleep, an alarm clock might help.
- Limit afternoon naps to about 15 to 20mins. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, long naps in the afternoon can only make it worse.
- Do activities such as washing dishes or getting clothes ready for work the next day if you feel sleepy before your bedtime. This will prevent you from sleeping too early, waking up later at night and be unable to go back to sleep.
2. Control Your Exposure To Light
A naturally occurring hormone called melatonin is controlled by your exposure to light, this hormone regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
It is secreted more when it is dark, making you feel sleepy. Too much light exposure decreases its secretion, making you more alert.
Here are some tips to control your melatonin levels:
- Expose yourself to bright sunlight during the day as this affects your alertness. Let as much natural light into your workspace during the day.
- Avoid bright screens like television, phones, and tablets within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The light emitted from these devices can be very disruptive and prevent you from falling asleep on time. Listen to relaxing music or audio books instead.
- Make sure the room is dark when it is time to sleep.
3. Exercise During The Day
Regular exercise helps to improve sleep at night. For a night of better sleep, the timing of your exercise needs to be right. Exercising too close to bedtime can interfere with your sleep pattern.
- Finish moderate to vigorous workout at least three hours before sleep time.
- Low impact exercises like yoga or stretches can help promote sleep.
4. Eat And Drink Smartly
Your eating and drinking habits during the day play a huge role in how well you sleep.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and nicotine especially close to bedtime. It is important to know that caffeine-containing products like coffee can cause sleep struggles even up to 10 to 12 hours after taking it. Smoking can also disrupt your sleep pattern.
- Avoid heavy meals at night, try to eat dinner early in the evening. Very spicy or acidic foods should also be avoided as these can cause heartburn.
- Avoid taking alcohol before bedtime.
- Avoid drinking too many liquids near your bedtime because it results in frequent trips to the bathroom during the night.
- Cut back on sugary foods, they can interfere with the deep stages of sleep.
5. Relax And Clear Your Head
Stress and worry from a very busy day can make sleeping at night very difficult. When you eventually sleep, you may find yourself waking up to think, making falling back to sleep a struggle. These steps can help you relax and make you stop worrying.
- Learn how to manage your time effectively and handle stress in a more productive way.
- Try not to overstimulate your brain during the day because it becomes hard to slow down and unwind at night. Set aside specific times to check your phones or social media and focus on one task at a time.
- Leave office work at the office. If you really have to bring it home, try and finish up at least 2 hours before bedtime. This also applies to school work and homework.
- Try leaving the office on time so you can also avoid traffic and get home on time.
6. Improve Your Sleep Environment
A regular and peaceful bedtime routine is very important as it sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to shut down. Your sleep environment can also make a big difference in the quality of your sleep.
- Keep your room dark so that you can fall asleep on time. Also, make sure that your room is cool with adequate ventilation and quiet. If you can’t avoid noise, try using earplugs or a sound machine.
- Ensure your bed is comfortable and these includes your bed covers, pillows, and mattress. You don’t need to break the bank for this, you can get a good budget mattress.
- Reserve the bedroom for sleeping and sex. Try not to watch TV or use your computer in bed. This makes it easier for the brain to shut down and falling asleep becomes a breeze.
7. Get Back To Sleep
Waking up briefly at night is normal but falling back asleep may be a struggle, especially if you have had a busy and stressful day. The following methods can help you go back to sleep.
- Do not stress over the fact that you can’t fall back asleep as this only encourages your body to stay awake.
- Relaxation techniques such as meditation can also help you go back to sleep. Remember that the goal is to be relaxed and not just to sleep.
- If it is worry or anxiety that has caused you to wake up, make a brief note on a paper and try not to overthink. Tomorrow is a new day to resolve it.