Tossing and turning. Cannot fall asleep after laying down. Frequent waking. Stress and worries on the mind. Early waking.
These kinds of sleep difficulties can greatly impact an individual’s sleep quality which can lead to issues with one’s mood, ability to function the next day, and ability to concentrate. Sleep is important to your mental health, physical health, and safety. So how can you improve your sleep quality?
Establish a bedtime
Having an established bedtime is important to ensure that you are getting enough sleep (infants: 12-15 hours per day; toddlers: 11-14 hours per day; pre-school children: 10-13 hours per day; school-age children: 9-11 hours per day; most adults: 7-9 hours per day, although some may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours per day). This helps to regulate your body’s “internal clock.”
Once you have established a bedtime, stick to it! Even on weekends. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
Create a healthy sleep environment
Make sure the bedroom is quiet, dark, and relaxing. Also, make sure the environment is not too warm and not too cold.
Limit bedroom activities
The bedroom should only be used for sleep and sex. Other activities, such as eating, studying, working, and watching television should not be done in the bedroom. Also, remove all electronics, such as televisions and computers.
Create a soothing pre-sleep routine
Your body needs time to shift from your daily activities into sleep mode. Spend approximately one hour before bed doing a calming activity, such as reading, taking a bath, or practicing relaxation exercises. Creating a pre-bedtime routine will ease the transition from wake to sleep. Avoid stressful activities, such as work and discussing emotional issues. If your mind will not quiet and continues to race about your worries, try writing down the problems on your mind and then put them aside before laying down.
It is important that one feels comfortable when sleeping. Make sure the mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive.
Lay down to sleep when truly tired
Lying awake when you are not able to fall asleep can be stressful. Instead, get out of bed and go to another room. Engage in a relaxing, quiet activity (such as reading or listening to calming music). Keep the lights dim. When you begin to feel tired return to bed to fall asleep. Similarly, if you wake during the night and are unable to fall asleep within 20 minutes. Get out of bed and out of the bedroom to engage in a relaxing activity. Return to bed when tired.
Be cautious of napping
For some people, napping is a regular routine in their day. Napping may be problematic though if you notice issues falling asleep or staying asleep during the night. It is better to keep naps short and earlier in the day. Late day napping can impact your body’s “internal clock.”
Eat light evening meals
Eat dinner several hours before bedtime. If needed, eat a light snack before bed if you are hungry.
Exercise can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, if it is not too close to your bedtime. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed. Exercise stimulates the body which helps activate your brain to be alert. This is great, except when you are trying to fall asleep.
Avoid electronic devices
Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Electronic devices emit a light that promotes wakefulness. Additionally, engaging in an activity on an electronic device increases brain activity which is the opposite of what should be happening before sleep.
Avoid chemicals that interfere with sleep
Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals significantly impact sleep. Avoid caffeine and nicotine for four to six hours before bedtime. Alcohol may help one to fall asleep but it will increase the number of awakenings a few hours after one falls asleep. Limiting alcohol consumption to one to two drinks per day, or less, and to avoid drinking within three hours of bedtime can help to improve one’s quality of sleep.
If the above tips do not help to improve your sleep quality, do not hesitate to seek professional advice. There may be other explanations, such as a sleep disorder, that is impacting your ability to get quality sleep. A professional can help to identify the proper diagnosis and treatment to help improve one’s sleep quality.