Catching an Elusive Night’s Sleep
It is a common complaint to hear. So many people are unable to get a healthy night’s sleep.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines a healthy amount sleep as seven hours or more each night.
Your behaviors and routines during the day and before you go to bed can have an impact on the amount and quality of sleep you experience.
Everything from what you eat and drink to your level of daily exercise to the medications you take can make a difference between restless and sound sleep.
If you have difficulty sleeping or want to establish better sleep habits, consider implementing some of the following tips.
- Set a bedtime that allows you to get seven hours of sleep.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol before bed.
- Make your bedroom a comfortable and relaxing place to sleep.
- Don’t eat a large meal before heading to bed. If you are hungry, eat a light, healthy snack instead.
- Only go to bed when you are sleepy. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up.
- Only use your bed for sleep and sex. Avoid using your bed or bedroom to study or work.
- Try to keep your sleep schedule consistent even on weekends and vacations.
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise daily.
- Resist napping during the day.
A lack of sleep can cause you to overeat, but can your diet affect your sleep? Not a lot is known about how exactly diet influences sleep patterns. A balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and overeating has been linked to a lack of sleep, so healthy eating habits may very well lead to better sleep.
Studies have shown a correlation between diet patterns and sleep patterns. It seems that diets that include the highest caloric intakes lead to normal to low sleep hours.
Diets that included a wide variety of foods and lower calories seemed to lead to normal to high sleep hours. Drinking lots of water also seemed to lead to better, healthier sleep.
Things like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can definitely affect your slumber. Most people know that coffee can keep them awake at night, but be aware of other culprits like sodas, chocolate, tea, and any items that have hidden caffeine additives. Nicotine also causes problems because, like caffeine, it is a stimulant. Many studies actually show that nicotine is linked to insomnia. If you want a good night’s sleep, avoid smoking within a few hours of going to bed.
Alcohol has a unique effect on sleepers. Many people think a nightcap before bed helps them relax a bit. Although it may help you settle down for the night, alcohol can actually cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and lead to overall restlessness.
Other foods you may be wise to avoid include spicy and acidic foods. These heartburn-causing provisions can lead to sleep hindering discomfort. Eating spicy and acidic foods right before lying down is a recipe for disaster.
A natural remedy for insomnia can be found in a little extra intentional movement during the day. As little as ten minutes of aerobic exercise can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. Regular exercise may also prevent sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.
Not only does exercise ultimately help the quality of sleep you get but it also improves the duration. Your quality of sleep directly impacts your performance in the gym, too. It may also reduce stress and help tire you out. The timing of rigorous exercise may affect each individual differently. Experiment with different times of day to find your perfect balance. Some people find it hard to fall asleep if they work out too close to bedtime.
It is a known fact that a full body workout can ultimately lead to a healthier sleep routine. Some studies have shown that these positive effects could take several weeks or months to manifest themselves.
The Bottom Line
Sleep is vital to good health. Yet, it is something that sometimes seems elusive. There are some natural remedies available to troubled sleepers that may lead to a more restful night. Eating a balanced diet and exercising daily are two ways you may be able to improve your sleep hygiene. Avoid problematic foods and drinks, move your body regularly, and establish a good bedtime routine and you may find you improve your overall health.