The start of a new year is a good time to make those positive changes we keep meaning to make. Among your new year's resolutions for a healthier lifestyle, improving your sleep should be a primary consideration.
Sleeping well is key to maintaining good mental and physical health. Gradually developing good habits and a bedtime routine helps encourage the important restorative sleep our body needs. Issues affecting the quality of sleep should also be addressed such as snoring, which could be a sign of sleep apnea.
A few tips to naturally improve your sleep:
Develop a Bedtime Routine
Adults require between 7 to 9 hours asleep every night. It works best to have a set bed time and wake-up time--allowing yourself an occasional weekend sleep-in, which won’t hurt as long as it’s not a habit. Your goal is to develop a consistent sleep/wake cycle, which helps your internal body clock regulate sleep.
Everybody is different and has different physical demands during the day. If you are still feeling tired when you wake up, try going to bed earlier until you find the optimal amount of sleep hours that works for you.
A good bedtime routine should also include:
- Avoiding blue light-emitting electronic devices such as televisions, laptops, and cell phones 30 minutes prior to bedtime-- as this may interfere with melatonin production, a hormone which helps control sleeping patterns.
- Starting a new relaxation activity in the evening such as reading, meditation, stretching or having a hot bath.
Create the Optimal Bedroom Environment
Since we should sleep one-third of the day, it is worthwhile spending some time considering the bedroom environment. In order to sleep well, the bedroom needs to be a place of calm and an environment which encourages good sleeping patterns.
The comfort of your bed is key to a good night’s rest. Buying the most comfortable mattress, pillows and sheets you can will help with a restful night.
Think about the temperature of your bedroom too, as being either too hot or too cold can soon lead to trouble sleeping. A room between 65F to 72F is the temperature you are ideally looking for when you go to bed.
Dark rooms without any external noise disturbances also help promote sleep. If lots of external noise in your neighborhood is a common problem, you can try wearing ear plugs overnight or perhaps try using the low hum of a fan, as this can be very relaxing for some people.
Another way to reduce external noise or just to promote better sleeping in general is a white noise machine. These machines produce sounds to help create a more relaxing sleeping environment to promote healthy sleep.
It is often an abrupt sound that awakes us, such as a car horn, shouting or an alarm. The consistent ‘blanket’ of relaxing sound from a white noise machine masks external noises, and can also be beneficial to people who struggle when sleeping in complete silence.
Make Lifestyle Changes
New year's resolutions focusing on more exercise and a healthier diet will also benefit your sleep. Whether you start running, cycling or learning to kick box, exercise helps you rest at night -- so long as it is not done late in the evening, as this can get you wired when you try to fall asleep.
Other lifestyle tweaks you can incorporate as part of your new year's resolutions include:
- Eating your evening meal early, allowing time for your body to digest the food before you go to bed.
- Caffeine, alcohol and sugary items can keep you awake at night. Therefore, you want to cut down on these products and ideally avoid caffeine after noon.
- Try to ensure you get out and have exposure to natural light during the course of the day, particularly early morning. The body’s circadian rhythm responds to light and dark, so gradually reducing your exposure to any light as you approach bedtime can promote better sleeping patterns.
Tackling Sleeping Problems
According to research, 60% of American males and 49% of American females are affected by snoring. Although this can sometimes be a delicate matter to raise, snoring can often result in sleeping problems for a partner.
However, as loud snoring is one of the prime symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition which involves breathing problems during the night, it also means the snorer’s partner could suffer with poor sleeping patterns too.
If snoring is affecting your sleeping, then consulting a doctor as part of your new year's resolutions could have major benefits. If it is your partner who snores, you could tactfully suggest they book an appointment with their doctor.
Sleep apnea often remains undiagnosed, but when it is diagnosed the appropriate treatment can be recommended by your doctor for the severity of the disorder experienced. Treatment helps to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea symptoms, including snoring. This sees both partners benefit in receiving better nights of undisturbed rest.
Tackling sleeping problems and introducing good habits to improve the quality of your sleeping forms a good platform for new year's resolutions. They fit in well with any personal plans to improve fitness and health overall.
However, be patient, as changes to lifestyle can bring gradual rewards and are not always immediate.
Similarly, as we are all different and our bodies can respond in different ways. What works for one person may not be the solution for another. It may be advisable to try one change at a time to find the methods that best help you fall asleep and receive more consistent nights of rest.
Still Struggling With Sleep?
A SleepQuest Sleep Care Specialist can answer questions and provide guidance if you’re struggling with sleep and/or snoring. A simple at-home sleep test can be a positive step toward resolving your sleep problems -- so your body can get the restorative sleep it requires, every night.