Do you ever wake up in the morning with the sense that you didn’t sleep a wink? Do you hit the “snooze” button multiple times before getting out of bed? Does it take multiple cups of coffee or tea to make you feel awake in the morning?
The quality of sleep we get every night is just as important as the quantity. The body needs to cycle through multiple stages of sleep, each with their own characteristics and benefits, in order to awake feeling fully rested and clear headed. High-quality sleep restores the body as well as the mind, while chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a range of health issues, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
If you are looking to improve the quality of your sleep at night, here are seven simple ways to get the most out of your evening ZZZ’s.
- Avoid screens and blue light. Exposure to manmade, blue light (such as light from a computer or television screen) can interrupt the body’s natural sleep rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. Avoid looking at screens for 2-3 hours before bed for a quality night’s sleep.
- Establish a routine. It is easier to maintain a healthy sleep schedule with a consistent nighttime routine. Start about one hour before bed, at the same time every night, and complete your routine in the same order.
- Practice deep breathing. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing before bed can help lower the heart rate and quiet the mind, which can lead to a more restful sleep. Anxiety and an elevated heart rate during sleep will make it harder for the body to recuperate.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol before bed can elevate heart rate, cause wakefulness during the night, and prevent the body from maintaining a healthy sleep cycle rhythm.
- Exercise in the morning or afternoon. Regular exercise can help improve sleep, but working out too close to bedtime can actually increase levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the system and make it harder to fall asleep.
- Block noise and light. It is easier to fall asleep and stay asleep in a dark, quiet room. Try using blackout curtains or an eye mask to block light, and incorporate a white noise machine or earplugs to quiet any external sounds.
- Try a cold shower. It may sound counter-intuitive, but cold exposure can help calm and reset the nervous system and lead to a better night’s sleep. Try taking a cold shower or ice bath before bed and then immediately dress in warm clothes and perhaps grab a hot cup of decaffeinated tea.
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