For some people, bedtime is a breeze. While laying in bed, they close their eyes, and before you know it, they are fully asleep! For others, it’s not that simple. Nearly one-third of Americans say they often lie awake in bed struggling to turn off the mind, get warm or comfy, etc. Many of us are light sleepers and in the mornings, it just doesn’t feel like we get enough rest to get through the day. If this describes your situation, then consider the following do’s and don’ts before going to bed. Keep in mind, depending on how awful you feel, you may need to consult a sleep physician. There’s a possibility that you may suffer from a condition and should get tested and treated.
Turn Off Your Smart Device
The use of electronics in the bedroom has been linked with poor sleep. In addition to the loss of sleep time due binge-watching, the blue light emitted by smart devices has been shown to suppress Melatonin secretion, thus prolonging sleep onset (the transition from wakefulness into sleep). Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep and wakefulness. At sundown, melatonin levels should rise in anticipation of sleep. However, smart devices flood our brains with blue light well beyond sundown, thus stimulating our brains to stay up even longer. Furthermore, research has shown that blue light can decrease REM sleep cycles (the phase when we dream) and cause you to take longer to wake up in the morning (and snooze often).
Turn Your Bedroom Into a Sleep Sanctuary
For very similar reasons, you should dim the lights at home and if necessary, install blockout curtains in the bedrooms. Depending on where you live, it may be too bright outside and that light will affect your sleep environment. Alternatively, you may use an eye mask to block out the light. Also, don’t wait until it’s time to go to bed to dim the lights at home. Try using the least amount of artificial light as possible. A quiet and dark bedroom is a more suitable environment for restorative sleep. And best of all, you may even save money on your electric bill. For more tips on how to optimize your bedroom for healthy sleep, visit: https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/
Turn The Thermostat Down At Night
The ideal sleep temperature for bedtime can vary from person to person. While researchers are not in consensus on the ideal number (degree), they do agree that the cooler the better. The human body is designed to read and interpret light and temperature values in our surroundings. They serve as guides to our internal clock (circadian rhythm) so that as the sun goes down and temperature drops, we become incrementally sleepy and ready for bed. However, at home have the ability to alter our environment (light/sound/temperature) with the use of electricity.
So, how should we program our thermostats at night? Researchers say that sleep is actually disrupted when temperature rises above 75 degrees and when it drops below 65. So I would probably set the thermostat to about 70. It would all depend on how warm your bedding is. If you are accustomed to sleeping under 3-4 layers of bedding, then you may want to make it even colder. The point is, if you seek healthy sleep, then your bedroom must be cool.
Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, Alcohol and Other Substances Before Bedtime
Who doesn’t love coffee right? If you looking for a boost of energy, coffee or tea is probably your best friend. However, the consumption of caffeinated drinks can decrease a person’s quality of sleep. If abstinence is out of the question, the best thing to do is avoid caffeine for four to six hours before bedtime. Although alcohol consumption is known to make people sleepy, if you consume it within 2-3 hours of bedtime, it can act as a stimulant keeping you from experiencing deep sleep. Also, if you snore or have sleep apnea, it can actually worsen your condition.
The relaxing effects of alcohol will cause the muscles of your throat that are responsible for maintaining the airway open to collapse, thus obstructing the air going into your lungs. Less air going in means less CO2 going out; therefore, your blood pressure goes up and the less rest that you get. When in doubt, ask your physician for more information regarding the things you consume and the medications that you take.
Exercise Regularly, Except Late at Night
While exercise is one of the best things you can do to treat your body, if done before bedtime, it can cause you to have poor sleep. When we engage in physical activity, cortisol is secreted in high levels as a response to stress and low blood sugar. When cortisol levels remain elevated due to hyperactivity, it makes it difficult for your body to relax and enjoy a deep sleep. Instead, you should try and establish a pre-sleep routine to promote a gradual transition from wakefulness to sleepiness. Schedule physically demanding activities during the day and plan for relaxing activities during the evening hours. Avoid stressful or stimulating activities that will peak your cortisol levels at night. Also, avoid discussing emotionally draining issues late in the day. Remember, you can always sleep on it, it might help you.
For more information and tips, please visit: https://sleep.org/