A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance and brain function It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children
In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better and be healthier. Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep.
If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, then getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.
Tips to having a good night rest
Expose yourself to bring light during the day
Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm. It affects your brain, body and hormone , helping you stay awake and telling your body when it’s time to sleep.
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration. In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%
While most research is in people with severe sleep issues, daily light exposure will most likely help you even if you experience average sleep.
Try getting daily sunlight exposure or — if this is not practical — invest in an artificial bright-light device or bulbs.
Avoid caffeine consumption
It is true that Caffeine has numerous benefits and is consumed by 90% of the US population A single dose can enhance focus, energy and sports performance. However, when consumed late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.
In one study, consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality
Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended — especially if you are sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.
If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee.
Reduce long daytime naps
While short power naps are beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep.
Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night
One study noted that while napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function, longer naps can negatively affect health and sleep quality (38).
However, some studies demonstrate that those who are used to taking regular daytime naps do not experience poor sleep quality or disrupted sleep at night.
If you take regular daytime naps and sleep well, you shouldn’t have to worry. The effects of napping depend on the individual.
Try a consistent sleep/wake cycle
Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset. Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality. Studies have highlighted that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signal your brain to sleep.
If you struggle with sleep, try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times. After several weeks, you may not even need an alarm.
Take a melatonin supplement
Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax and head to bed. Melatonin supplements are an extremely popular sleep aid. Often used to treat insomnia, melatonin may be one of the easiest ways to fall asleep faster.
Melatonin is also useful when traveling and adjusting to a new time zone, as it helps your body’s circadian rhythm return to normal.
In some countries, you need a prescription for melatonin. In others, melatonin is widely available in stores or online. Take around 1–5 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.
Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance, and then increase it slowly as needed. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it is advised that you check with a medical professional before use.
You should also speak with a healthcare provider if you’re thinking about using melatonin as a sleep aid for your child, as long-term use of this supplement in children has not been well studied.
Downing a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones.
Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns. It also alters nighttime melatonin production, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm.
Set your Bedroom temperature
Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly impact sleep quality.
As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be very hard to get a good night’s sleep when it’s too warm.
One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise. Other studies reveal that increased body and bedroom temperature can decrease sleep quality and increase wakefulness
Avoid eating late
Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, certain meals and snacks a few hours before bed may help.
That said, the quality and type of your late night snack may play a role as well.
In one study, a high-carb meal eaten four hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster. Interestingly, one study discovered that a low carbs diet also improved sleep, indicating that carbs are not always necessary — especially if you are used to a low-carb diet.
Meditating in the evening or any mind relaxing exercise
Many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax.
Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia.
In one study, a relaxing massage improved sleep quality in people who were ill.
Strategies include listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing and visualization.
Try out different methods and find what works best for you.
Take a relaxing shower
A relaxing bath or shower is another popular way to sleep better.
Studies indicate that they can improve overall sleep quality and help people — especially older adults — fall asleep faster