Are you tired of not getting enough sleep at night? You’re not alone! Survey results have shown that one in three Canadians are not getting the seven to nine hours of recommended sleep a night. This may not seem like such a big deal, but in reality, not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health. It can lead to small things such as mood changes, but also more significant health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, and it can put you at risk for diabetes and heart disease. So, let’s find out a few simple ways to get more sleep to improve our health!
1. Make sure you have a comfortable sleep environment
Arguably one of the easiest ways to get a good night’s sleep is to ensure you have a comfortable sleep environment. Some things in your environment are out of your control, such as how much noise is coming in from outside, but there are many items you can buy to make your bedroom as comfortable as possible.
One of the most important things to have is a comfortable mattress. You may not know, but a mattress should be replaced every 7 to 10 years. This is because, as your mattress ages, it will not be as supportive, thus making it uncomfortable. Mattresses are very versatile and come in many different types of firmness, so buying a new one that suits your needs is easy.
If you already have a newer, comfortable mattress, but are still uncomfortable at night, an adjustable bed may be better for you. An adjustable bed has hinges that allow you to move the bed into different positions. This is an excellent option for those who prefer to have their upper or lower body lie at different heights to be comfortable throughout the night.
Lastly, using a weighted blanket at night time is a great way to help you fall asleep. A weighted blanket can weigh between 5 to 30 pounds depending on your own body weight (usually 10%) and is meant to relax your nervous system. Weighted blankets have been known to help relieve pain, lessen anxiety and improve mood, all of which can help you to fall asleep quicker.
2. Avoid blue light close to bedtime
Even if you have never heard of blue light, you have definitely seen it. Blue light is a type of light that humans are able to see; it is produced by the sun, electronics such as televisions, computers, and phones, and fluorescent lights. While these lights are unavoidable during the day and will not affect you negatively, exposing yourself to them at nighttime is another story.
This is because being exposed to blue light at night will make your body think it is still daytime. This, in turn, means your body will not produce melatonin; the hormone our body needs to regulate sleep. So, it is best to avoid any blue light exposure for at least two hours before you plan on going to sleep.
3. Don’t consume caffeine close to bedtime
Since many people are sleep deprived, they may lean on caffeine to keep them awake during the day. Consuming caffeine can help enhance your focus and energy, so it is not necessarily a bad thing to consume during the day. At night, however, consuming caffeine by drinking items such as soda or coffee can negatively impact your sleep.
Unfortunately, caffeine can stay in your blood for as long as 6 to 8 hours. So, it is recommended that you do not consume large amounts of caffeine after 3 or 4 p.m. if you want a good night’s rest. If you find yourself having a craving for coffee after this time, consuming decaf coffee is a good alternative!
4. Create a consistent sleep pattern
Our bodies have a natural sleep and wake cycle called the circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm functions on a loop as it repeats every 24 hours. Although it is a natural rhythm, it can be altered by irregular sleep patterns. If you’re not sleeping correctly by going to sleep too late or waking up too late, your body will get used to the irregular sleep pattern.
Instead, try to go to sleep around the same time and wake up around the same time every day to help regulate your circadian rhythm. As you continue to wake up around the same time consistently with an alarm, your body will start to get used to waking up at that time, and you may not even need an alarm anymore.
5. Don’t eat too close to bedtime
Although having a bedtime snack can be tempting, it could, unfortunately, be negatively impacting your sleep. Being too full when you’re trying to sleep can be disruptive as your body works to digest the food.
You may have heard that our body only takes one hour to digest food, but it is recommended that you should eat around three hours before you plan to go to sleep to give your body time to dig the food. That being said, what you eat beforehand can also affect your sleep. Foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates or that are heavily processed can also keep you up at night. This is because they take longer to digest, thus interrupting your ability to fall asleep.
You should instead try to have a well-balanced diet by eating things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy. These foods are easier to digest and will make it easier for you to fall asleep quicker. Certain foods have been known to help make you tired. For example, almonds contain high doses of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Similarly, if you are looking to replace your nightly coffee with another hot drink, chamomile tea is traditionally known to be a remedy for insomnia.
Getting the right amount of sleep every night can be hard, but if you follow these tips, you might find it a little easier!