A good night’s sleep is tough to come by. If you have trouble sleeping, these healthy sleep recommendations should be at the foundation of your routine. A sleep routine is ideal for high-sleep-quality and falling asleep fast.
If you have prolonged sleep troubles, studies show health complications can occur such as: increased weight, blood pressure, and diabetes.
Great Sleep Quality Starts Early
What you do approximately two hours before bed is important. Preparation is key. Therefore, a schedule or steps to prepare for sleep at night is ideal. The key is to follow a routine.
As your first step is complete, the body will naturally ready itself for bedtime. It’s best have a casual sleep routine with steps to follow.
A routine will help your circadian rhythm stay on track. Your circadian rhythm is a sleep-wake cycle that responds mostly to light.
For instance, as the sun sets and exposure to light reduces, changes start to take place in the body. Unfortunately, there are many things that can disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause sleep quality issues.
This guide will explain the do’s and don’ts when it comes to attaining better sleep.
Breathing Techniques For Sleep
Military Sleep Technique
Sometimes military personnel work odd hours, and certain situations require them to stay awake for long periods of time. When time is available, personnel need to fall asleep fast. Try the following routine to help with sleep:
- Relax your eyes, cheeks, and jaw. Your lips should barely touch.
- Drop your shoulders, and open your hand fully.
- Exhale slowly.
- Relax your legs and lower limbs.
- Imagine a relaxing scene like a beautiful beach or a mountain hike.
- If you can’t imagine a relaxing scene, repeat to yourself slowly “Don’t think.”
Yoga Sleep Technique
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is commonly used in Yoga to relax and calm the mind. Follow these steps to increase the chances of falling asleep faster.
- Place the tip of the tongue behind your upper teeth.
- Add a moderate amount of pressure with you tongue.
- Inhale for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale slowly for 8 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
Reverse Psychology Your Way To Good Sleep
Paradoxical intention is the act of engaging in an idea that causes anxiety. Some insomnia patients have performance anxiety when trying to fall asleep i.e. the act of trying to sleep causes anxiety.
To counter the anxiety, insomniacs tell themselves to stay awake to fall asleep. This is a form of cognitive therapy. By telling yourself to “stay awake,” you may fall asleep quickly.
If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, researchers say you should leave the bedroom and listen music, color, or read a book.
Sleep Then Get Out Of Bed
The majority of people wake up to an alarm every morning. However, not all alarms are made equal. The tone of your alarm can make a big difference to the start of your day.
Loud beeps or horns are common alarm sounds, but these may not be the best for you. Researchers at a Melbourne University suggest a more melodic or pleasant morning alarm.
When the alarm is melodic, levels of alertness improve. Whereas, a harsh alarm sound can increase levels of grogginess and sleep inertia.
Sleep inertia is increased sensory or motor impairment in the morning. Sleep inertia can last up to 4 hours and negatively impact your morning.
Stay away from harsh alarms and go for the more melodic and pleasant sounds. If you do, research shows you’ll feel better in the morning if you do.
Also, avoid hitting the snooze button. The more you hit snooze, the greater the possibility of sleep inertia.
Watch What You Eat and Drink At Night
Try not eat or drink two hours before bedtime. Eating or drinking increases the likelihood of disrupting sleep by needing to use the bathroom.
Your brain senses when the bladder is nearing fullness and triggers you to wake up and use the restroom.
Electronics and Bright Light Keep You Awake At Night
Watching TV can keep you from sleeping by provoking a variety of emotions like excitation or sadness.
Also, light from your TV or electronics stimulates or tricks the body into thinking there is light outside. Studies show melatonin, a sleep hormone, drops significantly in the presence of light.
Dampen or turn off any lights that are not in use after sunset. You can also purchase smart bulbs that can dampen at certain times of the day.
If you have a room with large windows, install blackout curtains. This will keep the room and block any random lights from neighbors or cars.
When you wake up, make sure you seek as much light as possible. Open the curtains wide and turn on lamps when your alarm sounds.
Avoid Looking At The Time To Sleep Better
When you wake up at night, don’t look the time. Being aware of the time can cause anxiety and worsen insomnia. Watching the clock is common in people with insomnia.
Regular Exercise During The Day To Sleep Better At Night
Working out in the morning is best. Each organ has its own internal clock or 24 hour cycle. Starting the day with exercise will activate the 24 hour cycle. Therefore, you will be ready for bed later in the day.
If you are unable to workout in the morning, try to work out while it is still light out.
Exercise is important for sleep quality and duration. Serotonin and dopamine increase as you exercise, which stabilizes your mood and feelings of happiness.
Additionally, exercise reduces cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and it contributes to anxiety.
Sleep Machine Aids
Have you ever woken up from a car horn or floors creaking? Ambient sounds through your phone or a sound machine will help drown out random noises.
Sleep machines with white noise are good, but pink noise may be best. Studies show pink noise improves deep sleep and memory. Phone applications have sleep aids with pink noise.
Sleep Medicine And Supplements
There are many oral sleep aids. When you supplement with oral aids, take them an hour before your projected sleep time. This will give the body plenty of time to process the supplement or medication.
One of the best supplements is melatonin. The body will naturally produce melatonin as the sun sets. It is the body’s natural time keeper. Melatonin induces sedation and lowers core body temperature.
Melatonin is great for your skin too.
Magnesium is abundant in the body because it is a necessary neurotransmitter and an important part of many metabolic reactions. Up to 60% of magnesium is stored in bone.
As you age, bone density reduces and depletes magnesium production. As such, magnesium may be a supplement that is needed as you age.
Magnesium plays a part in the reduction of NMDA and the increase in GABA. Both are neurotransmitters responsible for excitation and inhibition of excitation respectively.
A combination of melatonin and magnesium may improve sleep quality.
Too Much Caffeine And Alcohol Late In The Day
Drinking caffeinated liquids after 1pm can disrupt your sleep schedule. A cup of water and caffeine in the morning is ideal as this primes your circadian rhythm.
It is also best to, avoid alcohol before bed. Drinking alcohol may reduce your chances for quality sleep. When drinking alcohol, your blood thins and the heart rate goes up. This is not ideal as your heart rate should drop as you get into bed.
Sleep Positions Can Change Depending On Your Bedding
Most people sleep on their side, back, stomach, or a combination. The worst best sleep position is on your stomach.
Sleeping on your stomach will cause you to rotate your head in abnormal positions. If this habit continues, spinal pain and headaches can occur.
If you sleep on your back, make sure your head and neck are slightly tilted backwards. This will allow maximum flow of air exchange through your nose and mouth.
Many pillows cause your neck and head to be in a flexed position which can cause Anterior Head Syndrome. Anterior Head Syndrome increases chances of snoring and sleep apnea.
Anterior Head Syndrome happens when the neck and upper back shift permanently in a flexed and forward position.
If you sleep on your side, find a pillow that allows your head and neck to be parallel to your mattress. Having your head and neck tilted to one side for long periods of time will cause neck problems.
Naps During Daytime Can Cause Issues At Night
Usually, naps are taken because a loss of sleep occurs or a heavy carbohydrate lunch is consumed. Studies show that you cannot catch-up on sleep, but if you are struggling to stay awake, a 20 minute will not negatively affect sleep hygiene.
Adjust The Temperature In The Bedroom
Better sleep is greatly dependent on the temperature setting of the bedroom. Sleep temperatures should be around 65 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This is part of creating an optimal sleep environment.
That may seem cold to some, but increased body temperatures wake you up at night. As the sun goes down, start lowering the temperature in the house. This will prime the body for bedtime.
Your Mattresses Can Cause Problems
There are many mattresses to choose from at various price points and levels of firmness. All mattresses will affect the way you will sleep. When choosing a mattress, you do not want a soft mattress.
Soft mattresses will position your spinal structures poorly. Prolonged poor spinal positioning will eventually cause body aches and abnormal spinal structure.
Therefore, focus on mattresses that are medium to medium firm. This will keep spinal structures in an optimal position while you sleep.
Rejuvenation With Great Sleep
While you sleep, important events happen in regards to function. During sleep, your brain forms short and long term memories through the strengthening of a synapse.
A synapse is the connection between various areas of your nervous system. It is like the electric wiring of your house. When synapses form, you are more likely to recall items from memory if you are getting adequate sleep.
As we age, especially during our 50s and 60s, deep sleep declines. Researchers believe reductions in deep sleep could contribute to dementia. As such, it is important to create an optimal environment for sleep.
A good night’s sleep protects your brain. As you fall into the deep stages of sleep, the brain activates the glymphatic system. This system allows fluid to remove toxic waste like amyloid-beta.
Amyloid-beta is a protein that could be the underlying cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Also, nutrient absorption takes place in the spinal discs for proper support of vertebra. Proper rehydration of these gel-like discs keeps the nervous system functioning optimally by reducing nerve obstruction.
Utilizing Recommendations For Every Day Use
Combining these sleep tips will create the optimal environment and mindset for good sleep. Slowly incorporate the recommendations. Don’t overwhelm yourself by using every recommendation because that will increase anxiety and stress.
If you try everything and nothing improves, schedule a consultation for medical advice. Unfortunately, everyone has different habits and routines.
Therefore, further medical analysis from a licensed doctor may uncover an underlying health condition causing sleep problems.
Dr. Garrett is the founder of Core Chiropractic in Birmingham, AL. While most health care is focused on temporary relief, the staff at Core Chiropractic focus on creating solutions to a wide spectrum of health conditions. Connect with Dr. Garrett at (205) 206-9341 or via online form.