Most people don’t realize that getting good sleep is crucial to improving their quality of life. It’s essential for optimal physical and mental health, too, as people who sleep well are less susceptible to conditions like heart disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and stroke. They’re also happier, less stressed, and less irritable overall.
Unfortunately, far too many Americans suffer from poor sleep quality. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 35 percent of adults don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Even those who manage to get the full eight hours still feel exhausted in the morning.
If you’re tired of waking up tired, it may be time to make a more concerted effort towards sleeping better at night. Several factors may be disrupting your rest, but thankfully most of them are fixable. You can vastly improve your sleep quality just by making a few adjustments to your lifestyle and nighttime routine. Even something as simple as wearing sleepwear sets to bed instead of your old college sweats can make a huge difference. Below is a list of the things that may negatively impact your sleep quality and what you can do about them.
How to Improve Sleep Quality:
You’re Uncomfortable during Sleeping
It can be difficult to imagine how one could feel uncomfortable if they’re lying down. After all, it is recognized to be the most comfortable position in the world. However, it can happen a few times throughout the night.
For example, your body temperature drops while you sleep, making you feel colder than when you first went to bed. You might live somewhere hot, or, you might naturally be a hot sleeper, making it more difficult to fall into a deep sleep. Even your mattress and pillows can contribute to your discomfort if they don’t support your body weight adequately. If they’re too soft, you’ll sink right into the bed frame; if they’re too hard, you’ll feel as though you were sleeping on the floor.
Luckily, eliminating these tiny annoyances isn’t that hard. Experts recommend maintaining a bedroom temperature between 60 to 67° Fahrenheit for the most comfortable sleep. You can also invest in sleepwear sets that can help thermoregulate your body according to the ambient temperature in the room. All you have to do is pick the right fabric for the climate. Consider lightweight, breathable cotton if you find yourself feeling hot at night or heavier fabrics like flannel or fleece if it’s too cold. It’s also a good idea to put some money towards a new mattress that’s appropriate for your weight and frame, as well as more comfortable pillows that are better suited to your usual sleeping position.
You’re Having Trouble Breathing
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects approximately 22 million Americans. It is potentially serious because it causes breathing to stop and start, repeatedly, while the afflicted person is sleeping. With each apnea event, the brain sends a signal that will partially rouse the sleeper so that breathing can resume. If the condition is severe enough, this can happen hundreds of times each night, thus causing extremely fragmented, poor-quality sleep.
People who suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnea should seek the advice of a medical professional. In some cases, sleep apnea can be alleviated through weight loss or simply not sleeping on one’s back. To know what kind of treatment is right for you, consult your doctor.
You’re Exposing Yourself to Too Much Light before Bedtime
Your body possesses a natural circadian rhythm dictated by the amount of light present during the day. This rhythm can be disrupted if you expose yourself to too much bright light after sunset. Indeed, artificial light can trick the brain into thinking that it’s still daytime, thus suppressing the sleep hormone melatonin production. As a result, it’ll become harder for you to drift off into a restful slumber, much less stay asleep.
To improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep, consider dimming the lights in your home or bedroom at least two hours before lying down. Additionally, avoid taking electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones to bed, as the blue light emanating from these screens can also keep you from falling asleep. If you absolutely must use them, turn on the built-in blue light filters on these devices, which you can find under names like “night mode,” “night light,” or “vision comfort.”
Suggested read: 5 Habits to Avoid if You Want Better Sleep Tonight
You’re Not Eating Right
What you eat is another factor that may be affecting your sleep quality without you even knowing it. Overloading on foods high in fat or protein before bed makes the digestive system work harder, which, in turn, can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Drinking coffee too late in the day can also prevent you from drifting off at night.
Steer clear of foods that are too rich or heavy for dinner and opt for lighter options instead. You may also want to add foods that are high in magnesium and B vitamins to your diet, as these can enhance sleep quality. Finally, avoid consuming caffeine after 3 p.m. to keep it from interfering with your sleep when you hit the hay.
Suggested read: The Fine Link between Smart Snacking and Healthy Snacking
Getting better quality sleep is easy once you’ve identified what’s causing you to sleep poorly in the first place. From there, you can refer to this quick list of remedies. If they don’t work for you, consider speaking to a professional to learn how you can improve your sleep quality.
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