Sleeping is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Our bodies need rest in order to recharge and replenish our body’s natural systems so that they’re performing to the best of their ability. Many of us have certain sleep issues, whether it be having a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or trouble waking up in the morning, whatever it may be, there’s certain changes you can make to your everyday routine that can help improve your nightly slumbers, and get you the eight hours you need to feel great in the morning.
One of the simplest solutions for improving sleep is ensuring that you’re in a dark environment. Dark rooms obviously support better sleep as there’s less sensory stimulation. Light exposure interferes with our bodies natural sleep cycle and circadian rhythms; which is a fancy term that refers to when your body tells you to wake up and when to fall asleep.
Investing in blackout curtains is the easiest solution if your sleeping situation involves a room with a window that’s facing the sun at any given point in the morning or evening. Heavy and thick curtains not only block out the intense natural lighting of the outside world, but also encourages a more relaxed sleeping environment in general. Dark colored curtains will typically always do the trick, however, if a lighter color would better fit your rooms aesthetic, there are plenty of online options of light colored curtains with thick enough linings to darken any space.
If you’ve done any research regarding sleep or insomnia, you’ve definitely heard about blue light emissions and their negative effects on our bodies ability to fall asleep. Electronic devices typically always have a “blue light” undertone that has been proven to disrupt our circadian rhythms specifically when we’re going to bed; as many of us like to mindlessly scroll through social media before falling asleep.
This blue light suppresses the production of melatonin in our brains, which is the chemical that tells the rest of our body when it’s time for bed. Some phones have a “night mode” setting that turns your screen a more amber hue to combat that harsh blue emission, and there are numerous screen-protector like products that do the same, however, the best thing you can do to promote a more solid night of sleep, is to avoid electronics at all cost at least an hour before going to bed. This can be tough for a lot of us who have developed a nighttime routine that involves some entertainment on our devices, but the only way to ensure you’re body will keep producing melatonin at a normal rate, and keep you rested throughout the night, is to unplug it all and read a book instead before bed.
What you eat and drink throughout a day also has a heavy effect on your natural sleep cycle. Depending on when you go to bed, you should stop eating at 8 pm the latest. The later in the night you eat, the more your body will have to digest while you’re resting. This is an issue because our bodies digest at a much slower metabolic rate when we’re sleeping, which can either lead to an unpleasant middle-of-the-night bathroom trip, or an overall feeling of grogginess in the morning.
Following a healthy meal plan that avoids processed foods and sugars will also keep your energy levels in a more natural and stable state, so when it comes time to unwind, your body will have no problem doing so because it received all the necessary nutrients it needed throughout the day.
Finally, along the same lines as a healthy diet, getting regular exercise will improve how well you stay asleep throughout the entire night. Even just 10 minutes of activity a day can show positive results. So many of us get trapped in the 9-5 bubble of sitting at a desk all day and then going home and just sitting on the couch to unwind. When you keep up with an active exercise schedule, you’re lowering your risk for certain sleep conditions such as sleep apnea.
Regardless of what issues you have when it comes time to turn the lights out, keeping up with healthy lifestyle habits will always help improve the way your body functions, regardless of if you’re conscious or not.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.