Insomnia has been an old “friend” of mine for a large amount of my life as I used to have trouble sleeping, and it took me a long time to find the right measures to help me having a good night’s sleep, frequently.
The lack of sleep or the difficulty to sleep well directly interfere with the person’s quality of life because poor night’s sleep reduces the ability to concentrate during the day and can also result in mood changes. In addition, when poor sleep quality becomes frequent, there may be changes in appetite and health problems such as stress, anxiety, and the development of memory failures. Lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately, however, stress also disrupts our sleep, while thoughts continue to spin in our heads, preventing us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.
To have quality sleep, it is important that the person adopts some habits that help to regulate sleep and that help to reach the sleep phase of deep relaxation, which is often difficult to achieve.
After managing to get rid of my old friend insomnia, I would like to share with you, dear reader, what was fundamental to achieve sleep quality, so here are 10 tips that can be useful for improving sleep quality and that should be adopted as a new lifestyle:
Go to bed when you’re sleepy
When you feel sleepy, go to bed, lie down and turn off the light!
Sleep is a natural process that should not be “forced”. To feel sleepy at the usual time, avoid falling asleep in other places, even for a short time, for example, on the sofa at the end of the day as this will probably disrupt your sleep pattern.
Try to have a “sleep and wake up” time routine
You should keep a regular schedule for bed and to get up, either during the week and at the weekend.
There should be no more than a couple of hours difference between the hours you lie down and get up during the week and on weekends. Being consistent helps to reinforce your sleep-wake cycle.
If you notice that there is a difference of more than a couple of hours between the time you lie down and get up at the weekend and on the other days of the week, you are probably not sleeping the number of hours you need regularly.
Turn off the TV and other devices and grab a book instead.
The television, computer or other electronic devices should be turned off approximately 30 minutes before the ideal bedtime. Ideally, the person should stay away from these devices, as well as the cell phone and video games, as they excite the brain, leaving the person more agitated and impairing sleep.
In addition, the clock must also be kept out of the bedroom or away from the bed, because when the person goes to sleep and understands that he/she is not able to fall asleep, he/she tends to look at the clock, which is another reason for stress, which makes it difficult to sleep.
Also, and as difficult it might seem, leave your cell phone in another part of the house. Don’t bring it to bed with you – and don’t use the alarm excuse – as you can buy an alarm for 5 GBP so no excuses to bring the phone with you to bed.
Instead, grab a book and read before bed. Ideally, a person should lie in bed only when is sleepy and before that, one can lie back in bed or, preferably, on the sofa, reading a book in a slightly dimmer light. It is important to give preference to reading things that bring peace and tranquility, avoiding books or stories that promote tension and stress, such as news, for example.
Bedrooms should only be used for sleeping
Use the room only for sleeping and only sleep in the room.
The bedroom should be a place to sleep. You should not watch TV, eat, study, or use your cell phone or other electronic devices in bed.
When other activities are done in the bedroom, associations are created between being in bed and being awake, which can train your brain to stay awake when you get to bed to sleep.
It may be difficult not to use the bed for other activities, but it is a key component in improving sleep quality. If you use the bed just to sleep, it becomes a place where sleep comes naturally. Sexual activity is the only exception to this rule.
Have a comfortable environment in the room
The sleeping environment should be quiet, dark, safe, and at a comfortable temperature, between 18ºC and 21ºC. The ideal is to have curtains that make the room dark at night.
Background noise and light, even if low in intensity, can interrupt and/or shorten sleep. One way to filter out unwanted noise is to maintain a constant low-intensity sound, called white noise.
Some people are able to have a stimulated sleep and sleep better when they hear some quiet or rhythmic sound and, therefore, some ambient sound can be added.
In addition, the clothes the person uses to sleep should also be comfortable. Make sure you wear comfortable pajamas and use a good pillow, which allows the reduction of tension in the back and the neck, accumulated during the day. A comfortable mattress/bed is also a must for me.
Relax at the end of the day
Instead of relying on medication, your goal should be to maximize your relaxation before bed. Make sure your room is a peaceful oasis, with no memories of things that cause stress.
At the end of the day, long before bedtime, you should progressively slow down your activity.
This will allow for a progressive transition between the day’s activities and the sleep period.
I would also advise a long hot bath or shower if you prefer, the use of calming incense or essential oils such as lavender has a relaxing and calming effect because taking deep breaths with the essential oil, causes the brain to receive more oxygen, in addition to also stimulating hormone production, promoting the feeling of well being and relaxing, favoring sleep. Would also add listening to a guided meditation which is a powerful tool to relax and relieve stress. Classical music also helps me and I strongly advise soft piano ballads.
When you get rid of the excitement and worry of the day, you will feel calmer and sleep will appear naturally.
Regular physical activity is essential for quality sleep, increasing the amount of deep sleep.
Physical exercise should ideally be done during the morning. Practicing at least 30 minutes of exercise daily can be beneficial because when exercising the body uses more energy, increasing the need for rest throughout the day. People who have a hard time going to the gym can try walking or cycling, before dinner, for example.
Exercising at the end of the day or very close to bedtime can have a negative impact on sleep. During physical exercise and in the following hours’ many functions are activated in our body and the body temperature rises, which will disturb sleep. So, physical activity after 9 pm is not recommended, as it can have the opposite effect, because in the short term, exercise increases mood and, therefore, can interfere with bedtime and quality of sleep.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes before bed
The consumption of stimulating drinks, such as coca-cola, coffee, black tea, green tea, and some soft drinks, should be avoided 6 hours before bed because the person may be more awake and have difficulty falling asleep. Same with cigarettes, as nicotine is a stimulant that keeps you awake. As for alcohol, even though it might help you get off to sleep, however, it will disrupt your sleep during the night.
Whenever possible, the person should opt for drinks that favor sleep, such as a glass of warm plant-based milk or tea with no caffeine. In fact, drinking a calming tea at least 30 minutes before bed makes wonders – just don’t drink too much or you will need to go to the loo through the night.
Do not eat heavy meals near bedtime
A heavy meal, close to bedtime, can lead to discomfort or reflux during the night, fragmenting and disturbing your sleep.
During sleep, there is a decrease in the activity of our digestive system.
However, you should also not be hungry when you lie down. If so, a light meal may be appropriate. But avoid liquids at night as this will increase the likelihood of waking up to go to the bathroom.
Don’t take your troubles & worries to bed
Concerns of a different nature, thinking about your problems or planning future events when you are in bed tend to keep you awake, and that was one of my main issues.
When these thoughts are frequent, a good strategy is to set aside a period during the day, far from falling asleep, for these concerns, finding resolutions and planning events can happen freely.
Having a time of day to focus on these issues will make them occur less frequently while you are in bed. On the other hand, if these intrusive thoughts arise in bed, you know that you can postpone them until the next day.
A frequent concern is a concern about not being able to sleep. And that, for sure, will keep you awake.
It is important to know that an occasional night with less sleep is not a cause for concern. In fact, sleeping fewer hours on a given night can increase the so-called pressure for sleep, leading to an improvement in the quality of sleep on subsequent nights.
Hope you find these tips helpful and manage to add them slowly into your routine.
I genuinely believe that from these strategies, you will be able to transform your nights and improve your sleep quality.
And if you liked this content, I invite you to leave a comment, telling me what you think and what you do to improve your sleep every night, to share it on your social networks, and to continue following us.