Insufficient sleep has been linked to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes and heart problems. These physical ailments are in addition to decreased functionality and concentration individuals experience in their work environment and personal interactions. Ensuring a good night’s sleep is not as easy as simply going to bed earlier, however. Many people find that they need to change certain behaviors in their day to day lives in order to get the necessary sleep that need at night. Here are a few tips which can help you begin improving the quality of your sleep tonight.
Cut Down on Caffeine
Caffeine can be active in your system for up to ten hours. It is important to make sure you stop consuming caffeine at an appropriate time during the day so that it cannot interfere with your sleep patterns at night. Most people find that if they begin decreasing their caffeine intake in the early afternoon hours it can have a positive effect on when they begin to feel sleepy in the evenings.
Set a Routine
It might seem that going to bed earlier is the simple solution to better sleep, but in reality it is not so much about when you go to bed as how you go to bed that has an effect on sleep quality. Our bodies begin to react to certain cues hours before we are actually ready to go to sleep. Establishing a predictable routine in the evenings can help your body read these cues more efficiently. The couple of hours of each day should follow a similar pattern each evening so that your brain will begin to create the sleep hormone melatonin early in the evening in preparation for sleep.
Turn off Devices
This is a hard one for many individuals, because evenings prove to be everyone’s favorite time to watch television or to be online. However, screen time proves to be a huge deterrent to sleep quality. The reason for this is because the artificial light being created by the screen you are using sends a message to your brain that it is still time to be active. Our bodies are biologically wired to be active during lighted hours and to rest during dark hours. However, when our brains are bombarded with so much artificial light every day there can be confusion and the brain does not know when to signal the hormone system to start making melatonin. The solution is to begin dimming lights around sunset or shortly after and then one hour before your want to actually fall asleep turn off all screens. This simulates for your brain an outdoor close to the day. Your brain will take these light changes to mean it is nearing time to rest and begin making melatonin.
Use White Noise
Our bodies are also biologically wired to constantly be exposed to some form of sound. Complete silence is an unnatural state. Consider early man. He was constantly being exposed the continuous hum of outdoor life. Anyone who has ever been camping knows that nighttime outdoors is anything but silent. Bugs, winds and even nocturnal birds are constantly keeping up a steady drum. This white noise can be simulated for modern man with simply things such as a white noise maker or even a small fan.