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Ask anyone who suffers from insomnia – a full and restful sleep is hard to come by. No matter your routine or sleep schedule, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your quality and duration of sleep. Thanks to modern research and technology, there’s more information available to people than ever before. Whether it’s a change in nighttime eating habits or increasing your level of daily exercise, sleep improvement strategies are vast and varied. However, in the face of dangerous and potentially addictive pharmaceutical solutions, it’s worth investigating natural and healthy ways to improve your sleep over finding an ineffective, short term solution behind the counter.

– Create a Quiet Time

Whether it’s a hot bath, a warm cup of caffeine-free tea, or a quiet period of music, reading, or meditation, it’s important to wind your body and mind down before bedtime. That may mean limiting your use of electronics and TV/movies in the hour leading up to bedtime, but the resulting benefits to your sleep cycle will be a reward in of itself.

– Keep a Regular Diet and Eating Schedule

Foods that contain melatonin, which is a natural hormone produced in the body to encourage sleep, are essential to keeping and maintaining a healthy sleep cycle. Fruits, red wine, and certain carbohydrates contain melatonin and tryptophan can help a person fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Furthermore, avoiding heavier meals late at night can cause gastrointestinal issues and disrupt regular sleep cycles.

– Stay Physically Active Every Day

In a study focused mostly on middle-aged adult females, those who regularly exercised demonstrated positive effects on their sleep quality compared to those who live more sedentary lifestyles. This shouldn’t be news to anyone; common knowledge has always stated that those who achieve regular physical activity on a daily basis sleep better than those who don’t, so if you’re struggling with a lack of quality sleep, look no further than the gym bag.

– Utilize New Technologies to Track Your Progress

With devices like FitBit, Apple Watch, and even bed-specific Bluetooth gadgets that track the wearer’s movement throughout the night, it’s possible to prepare enough data on one’s average night of sleep to inform a more complete sleep study under supervised care. Better yet, though, many of these devices utilize a variable alarm which helps measure your rising and falling deep-sleep (or REM) cycles to help ease you out of sleep rather than slamming you out of deep sleep with a set alarm.

– Remove Artificial Lights from Your Bedroom

There’s plenty of evidence to show the correlation between artificial light and reduced quality of sleep. A quiet, cool environment with plenty of ventilation where you can control the amount of ambient and direct light is ideal for minimizing potential distractions throughout the night. Furthermore, limiting your TV/computer/smartphone usage to other areas of the house or shutting them off for an hour before bedtime is a good strategy to help prevent harmful eye strain due to blue artificial lights from screens.

– Limit Nicotine and Caffeine Use

Consuming cigarettes, tobacco, sodas, coffee, and tea in the late afternoon-evenings can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Caffeine can stay in your body for as much as 8 hours, so if you require a post-lunch coffee break to perk up, make sure you finish it promptly.