It is recommended that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per day. However, many adults struggle with getting good quality sleep. Poor sleep quality has been linked to both physical and mental health issues such as depression, obesity and high blood pressure.
Here are some top tips you can use to improve your sleep quality and make positive changes to your day-to-day life.
10 Tips for Better Sleep Quality
1. Don’t drink coffee too late
This one should come as no surprise but if you’re a regular coffee drinker you may not realize the impact that caffeine is having on your sleep quality. It is recommended that you don’t drink coffee (or any other highly caffeinated beverage) for at least 6 hours before you intend to go to sleep.
Luckily, there are there some great decaffeinated options out there these days for those that don’t want to give up their evening cup.
2. Don’t nap too much
Napping isn’t for everyone. However, it can be very beneficial if utilised in the right way. It is better to take a short nap, ideally in the early afternoon. The later in the day it gets, the less likely you are to use the energy accumulated from a power nap and your sleep quality at night will suffer as a result.
Napping for longer periods of time can also increase sleep inertia which causes grogginess.
The optimal nap time is 30 minutes or less – more could be counterproductive.
3. Reduce screen time
Many of us use our phones right before bed or even in bed as we’re preparing to go to sleep. This can severely damage our sleep quality as the blue light that phones emit blocks melatonin (a hormone that makes us sleepy) causing a poor night’s sleep.
It is ideal to stay off screens in general for at least an hour before bed, but if you must use your phone, you can change the screen settings to reduce blue light.
If you want a better night’s rest, it is far better to read a book than scroll through Instagram before you go to sleep.
4. Limit alcohol
Alcohol is widely accepted as being bad for us, however many of us choose to consume it regardless. One thing fewer people consider regarding the negatives of alcohol consumption is the impact that has on our quality of sleep.
Alcohol dehydrates you, putting stress on the body, primarily the kidneys, whilst you’re sleeping. The result of this strain on the kidneys can actually force you to need the toilet more which further disrupts your sleep by waking you. It is ideal to stop drinking alcohol at least 4 hours before you intend to go to sleep.
5. Time your meals
It is somewhat debated whether or not eating late can affect your body in negative ways. This is a particularly strong discussion amongst the weight loss community; however, it is undisputed that eating a full meal shortly before bed is bad for your body.
Your metabolism slows at night time and if your stomach is working hard to digest food, it is not allowing your body to get the rest it needs. If you get peckish before bed, try a couple of slices of pineapple. Pineapple is high in melatonin and slow to digest making it the perfect nighttime snack.
6. Adjust temperature and surroundings
Your body naturally drops in temperature whilst you sleep, so it is important that your bedroom temperature reflects this. The average temperature in your room should be around 18 degrees Celsius – although this is not a blanket rule for everyone.
Not only is temperature key, but also light. Whilst it doesn’t need to be pitch black, it is strongly advised to sleep in a dark room as the darkness increases the production of melatonin which helps you sleep better.
You should also consider the bedroom itself. Mess and clutter can subconsciously stress the brain making it harder for it to relax and sleep properly.
Your bedding and mattress are crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. Your mattress supports your entire body when you’re sleeping and keeps your spine and body posture in place. A bad quality mattress can lead to aches and pain which negatively impact our quality of sleep.
The correct bedding is equally important as the mattress. Having a decent pillow helps to align the upper body and relieves pressure on the neck and shoulders. You may not realize the pressure you are putting on your body with substandard bedding but this is also a contributing factor to poor sleep quality.
8. Regular exercise
Regular exercise is key to sleeping well at night. Sitting in front of a computer all day may make your brain tired, but your body also needs to be in order to rest properly.
Experts recommended a minimum of 30 minutes exercise per day which, surprisingly, a lot of people struggle to meet.
If you are finding it difficult to find time, try these workouts you can do at home. Be aware though that it is important not to exercise shortly before bed as the adrenaline and endorphins created can keep you awake longer and ruin your sleeping pattern.
9. Wind down before bed
Although it may seem obvious, not many of us actually do. It’s far too easy to move from the couch to the bed after a long day and just assume you’ll fall straight into a deep sleep. Your body and mind also need to prepare for a good night’s sleep.
One of the best ways to relax before bed is to have a warm shower or bath. You can also try a gentle yoga routine like this one to ease your body into the end of the day.
10. Sleep schedule
Having a regular sleep schedule is imperative to high-quality sleep. A regular bedtime encourages us to get the full 7 or more hours of sleep we need per day.
In addition to this, a regular sleep schedule does not just benefit our sleep quality – it can also improve our cognitive functions and helps up perform better in our day-to-day lives. There are also physical upsides, including weight management and decreased risk of serious health problems.
If you want to improve your sleep quality one step further, check out this article to learn how to fix your circadian rhythm.