If you don’t eat properly for few days, it might not much affect your daily work routine, but if you don’t sleep properly for even two days it will immediately start affecting your cognitive skills, daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight.
Sleep is a complex process of restoration and renewal for the body and mind. Getting a healthy sleep may look like a difficult goal when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have lot of control over the quality of your sleep, than you probably realize.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits can affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, weight and in turn cause disturbance in your sleep. But by following few lifestyle changes, you can enjoy better sleep at night, boost your health, and improve how you think and feel during the day.
1. Manage Sleep Patterns
If you keep a regular sleep-wake cycle, you’ll feel substantially more refreshed and energized than if you sleep similar number of hours at different times, regardless of whether you just modify your sleep plan by an hour or two.
- Maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle, helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep.
- Importantly we have to be smart about napping. Limiting naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon doesn’t affect the night sleep.
- Fight after-dinner drowsiness. If you get drowsy way before your sleep time, get off the sofa and accomplish something mildly stimulating, for example, washing the dishes, calling a companion, or setting out clothes for the next day.
2. Control Your Light Exposure
Melatonin is a naturally happening hormone regulated by light exposure that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dim- making you sleepy- and less when there is light- making you more alert.
During The Day:
- Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the first part of the day. It would be much helpful if it is closer to the time you get up.
- Invest more time outside during daylight. Take your work breaks outside in daylight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day rather than evening or night.
- Let as much sunlight pass into your home or workspace as possible. Keep shades and blinds open during the day and attempt to move your work area nearer to the window.
- Reduce bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV disrupts Melatonin production. If it is needed to then use by, turning the brightness down.
- When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark without any bright light. Use shades or curtains to block light from windows or try using a sleep mask.
- Keep the room dark if you generally get up during the night. If you need some light to move around safely in the room, try installing a dim nightlight.
3. Wind Down and Clear Your Head
Consistent stress, worry, and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well. Following certain techniques to manage your overall stress levels and learning how to cut the worry habit can make it easier to unwind at night. You can also try doing a relaxing bedtime ritual to help you prepare your mind for sleep, such as practicing a relaxation technique, taking a warm bath, or dimming the lights and listening to soft music.
The more stressed and anxious your brain becomes during the day, the harder it can be to slow down and unwind at night.
If you are feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when it will be easier to resolve. Similarly, if a brilliant idea is keeping you awake, make a note of it on paper and fall back to sleep knowing you’ll be much more productive after a good night’s rest.
Keep specific times during the day for checking your phone and social media and, as much as possible, try to focus on one task at a time. You’ll be better able to calm your mind at bedtime with less strings.
A Deep Breathing Exercise to Help You Sleep:
Breathing from your stomach rather than your chest can activate the relaxation response and lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels to help you to sleep effectively.
- Lay down in bed and close your eyes slowly.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise and the other hand on your chest should move very little.
- Exhale the air through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles.
- Continue to breathe in through nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
If you’ve tried best practices for restoring sleep and are still having trouble falling or staying asleep, start keeping track of how you sleep by keeping a sleep diary for at least 14 days.
Your sleep diary is like a mirror reflecting your sleep-wake cycle. If you have noticed that you are more irritated, tired, and frustrated, or that you cry easily, can’t focus, or have blank moments, then a sleep diary will be your best friend. The diary provides the answers to your inner detective that finds for clues to your unrest or discomfort. In your sleep diary, you can record sleep quality, waking time, quality of concentration and energy during the day, and naptime. After two weeks of recording your pattern, you’ll clearly see your sleep-wake cycle map and understand where the loophole in your sleep is.
We spend lot of money for basic needs such as clothing, food, shelter but we don’t even spend a penny on our quality of sleep. So, it’s never late to invest on good sleep.