It’s no secret that bad sleep at night makes for a difficult day. And for most of us, that’s a daily (and nightly) issue. The negative health effects of chronic poor sleep are well documented; it increases your risk of developing psychiatric disorders, having cardiac events, obesity, dementia – just to name a few of the most harrowing of sleep-deprivation maladies.
The problem is, we’re all too busy – between work, school, home, family, volunteering, trying to have a bit of a social life – there’s a lot going on, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. So what is there to do? Well, a few things!
If you shape your day correctly and avoid things that will disrupt your sleep later, you can optimize whatever hours you do get to squeeze in – which should really be at least 8.
Here are 10 tips from the sleep experts to help you get some better zzz’s tonight:
1. Keep a Consistent Schedule
Establishing a consistent sleep routine is key to improving your sleep quality. Set a fixed bedtime and adhere to it religiously, along with a consistent wake-up time. By maintaining this regularity, you align your body with its circadian rhythm. It signals when it's time to wind down for sleep and when to wake up refreshed.
A consistent sleep schedule allows your body to adapt and regulate its internal clock. It promotes better sleep quality without the need for sleep aids or counting sheep. Over time, these routines condition your body to recognize and respond to specific sleep cues. This makes it easier to fall asleep at the designated bedtime.
Essentially, it's a Pavlovian response—your body becomes primed to anticipate and prepare for sleep, promoting a more restful and refreshing slumber. When you've spent as much as you have on custom bedding or a bespoke mattress, you owe it to yourself to enjoy it. Your body will look forward to when it's time to tuck in for the night.
2. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
Here’s the thing about a solid breakfast: it makes everything better. Not only does it kick start your metabolism, but it gives you energy to get through the day and reduces your snacky feelings in the afternoon. The more energy you have to be active in the day, the more likely you are to get a deeper rest at night.
3. Exercise Daily
Speaking of being active – get back to the gym! There are myriad benefits to exercising daily, and one is better sleep. It’s simple: the more you do during the day, the more your body needs (and wants) rest. That means getting to sleep faster and actually sleeping. Plus all the cool chemical and neuronal stuff exercising does to aid that sleep/wake cycle.
4. Get Outside Daily
Work smart – do your exercise outside! Getting at least a half hour of direct sunlight each day helps your body keep its circadian rhythm in check. Morning sun is best, so maybe start walking or jogging in your neighborhood before work; it’s a healthy way to start the day.
5. Avoid Caffeine After Lunch
While you may only feel the effects of your 2pm coffee for 2 to 3 hours, caffeine actually stays in your system for about 8. Caffeine spikes your cortisol, blood pressure, and puts stress on your adrenal system. If all that’s going on until at least 10pm, you can be sure your body’s not going to figure out its melatonin situation until even later.
6. Avoid Tobacco Use
Nicotine is also a stimulant, and tobacco use is associated with sleep disruptions, especially in heavy smokers. You might think that right-before-bed cigarette is a good wind-down ritual, but it’s not only really unhealthy, it’s also just… not.
7. Keep Naps Short and To a Minimum
Occasionally, we all experience moments when a midday power nap becomes an appealing option. However, frequent lengthy naps disrupt our sleep patterns. Understanding that individuals possess different chronotypes—some requiring a mid-afternoon break—is crucial. Optimal daytime napping involves a strategic approach, limiting nap duration to a brief 20-30 minutes. If you don't know about different chronotypes, you can read all about it here!
Short naps bypass the deeper stages of sleep, preventing interference with your nighttime slumber. By restricting nap duration, you reap the revitalizing benefits without compromising your ability to fall asleep at night.
Embracing this strategic nap approach aligns with your body's natural rhythms. You allow your body to take a refreshing break without hampering your nightly rest. It may be tempting to sink into your luxurious custom sheets but set an alarm and stick to it. Don't keep hitting the snooze button for five more minutes when it's 3pm.
8. Don’t Eat Dinner So Late
Try to make sure there’s at least 2 to 3 hours between when you finish dinner and when you go to bed. You might think a big meal – since they sometimes lead to food comas – would help you fall asleep. And it might, but it’ll make sleeping soundly difficult, because instead of resting, your body has to expend energy to digest all that delicious late-night food.
But if a midnight snacker is just who you are, we’ve got tips on the best (and worst) foods to eat late-night.
9. Limit Evening Alcohol
Alcohol is a nervous system depressant, and many people get sleepy after a few drinks. But that sleepiness doesn’t bely a good night’s rest. Alcohol, as it is digested, interrupts your body’s melatonin production, which messes with your sleep cycles. It’s why you wake up a bunch in the night after a particularly fun evening; your sleep architecture got messed with.
10. Decompress Before Bedtime – Without Your Phone
Take even just 20 or 30 minutes before bed to just… not. Do your bedtime routine, get in your PJs and chill out. Try to do it without screens – especially your phone. Blue light has been shown to disrupt the circadian rhythm by interrupting melatonin production, making it harder to get a solid rest.
Bonus Tip: Spend a few minutes of your day designing a custom mattress that’ll make sure these healthy habits don’t go to waste. And don’t forget the breathable cotton bedding to match!
If you’ve been looking for a way to get to sleep and stay that way, and a Benadryl dependency just isn’t your jam, stick to these tips and we’re sure after a few weeks you’ll notice you’re sleeping more soundly. As for grabbing that custom mattress? Check out our options.