In our incredibly busy modern lives, sleep can often seem like a low priority and be the first thing to go when you have a big project to finish or an addictive TV show to binge. While pulling an all-nighter or two probably won’t hurt in the long run, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a host of physical and mental problems, including increased mood swings, lowered immune response, and even neurological disorders such as dementia. Although circadian rhythm and genetics play a role in how much sleep you need, most people need between six and eight hours of sleep each night. Here are the top 5 tips you need to have a better sleep cycle and become healthier and happier in your everyday life.
1: Limit Caffeine After Noon
Though it may help you get over that mid-afternoon hump, caffeine can linger in your system long after you’ve stopped feeling its more obvious effects. This means that limiting your intake of coffee, soda, and energy drinks after noon can help you get to sleep more quickly and have more uninterrupted sleep overall. You may experience headaches and other withdrawal symptoms for the first few days you spend with less or no caffeine, but your health will thank you for cutting out caffeine after noon. Not only will you sleep better, but you may also have less acne, less anxiety, and lower blood pressure. Keep the coffee in the morning and you will likely be able to get to sleep more easily and more quickly.
2: Limit Electronics in the Evening
The harsh backlighting on electronic screens such as televisions, computer screens, and phones has been shown to wreak havoc on your brain’s internal signals and trick your mind into thinking that it is not nearly as tired as it is. While some electronics have blue light filters or dark modes that aim to decrease these effects, it is still recommended that you limit your usage of electronics in the evening. This is especially important in the last half-hour to hour before you plan on going to bed, when messing with your brain’s signals is especially harmful to your circadian rhythm. Instead of using electronics in that time, consider reading or performing a repetitive craft, both which have been proven to sooth our brains into the right mindset for sleep.
3: Maintain a Regular Schedule
While you may be tempted to take advantage of your weekend in order to sleep in, maintaining a consistent schedule is crucial in establishing healthy sleep habits. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule will ensure that you will not feel tired over the course of your week due to unusual sleep patterns on weekends, which naturally leads to an even more uncertain sleep schedule and a variety of mood disorders.
4: Finetune Your Bedroom
What is there about your bedroom that makes it so that you cannot sleep there? Are there too many distractions that impede your sleep schedule? Consider moving your television or other distractions to a different place in your house. Is it too noisy? Consider getting a white noise machine. Are there windows facing the sunrise, sunset, or another bright source of light? Then consider getting blackout curtains. In general, keeping your space clean, quiet, and free of distractions will improve your quality of sleep.
5: If Problems Persist, Consider a Doctor
If you have taken all these steps and continue having issues with your sleep schedule or your quality of sleep, consider seeing a doctor who can see if there is something else impeding your path to a healthier life. A doctor can suggest strategies that are tailored to your life or tell you whether sleeping pills or melatonin pills may help with your sleep issues. This is only a strategy that should be tried after all other avenues have been considered, of course, since sleeping pills in particular can have unpleasant side effects. Still, if you have exhausted all the strategies that you can try on your own, going to a physician for a second opinion is a legitimate avenue to pursue.
Sleep is an important part of all of our daily lives, and yet it is estimated that 60% of American adults suffer from a sleep disorder or insufficient sleep. Using these tips to improve your quality of sleep is a good first step to a healthier, happier life.