Do you feel run-down, sluggish, or drowsy in the morning or throughout the day? If so, you are not alone. Almost half of all Americans say they feel sleepy during the day at least three days out of the week. Severe sleep disorders may require medical intervention. However, most sleep issues can be fixed by adjusting your sleep habits and environment. Read on to learn some sleep hygiene tips to keep you healthy.
Research show that sleep deprivation, not only, affects your energy levels but also your immune, endocrine, and metabolic function, as well as your hormones (growth hormone, cortisol, thyroid). Simultaneously, poor sleep can impede learning and even even endanger your life. Most crashes cluster during the overnight hours (midnight to 7:00 AM) and at mid-afternoon (around 3:00 PM). If you are not getting enough sleep or not getting high-quality deep sleep, it’s primordial to make changes now.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
The first sleep hygiene tip to keep you healthy is to reduce your caffeine intake after mid-afternoon. Caffeine can build up and take a while to wear off. Keep track of how many caffeinated drinks and foods you consume. Coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and some supplements contain caffeine. They can interfere with your sleep if you take them later on during the day.
Drinking some caffeine in the morning to energize you or before your workout is understandable. Yet, relying on caffeine to fulfill your tasks throughout the day is not healthy. Besides keeping you up at night, overdoing it with caffeine can cause numerous problems such as anxiety, digestive issues, muscle breakdown, high blood pressure, and rapid heart beat.
Decrease EMF Exposure
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are used to enable modern devices, including microwaves, mobile telecommunications infrastructure and phones, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. EMFs emit radiation. They have been linked to adverse health effects, even cancer. EMFs disrupt the nervous system and cell membranes’ permeability which affect sleep and mental health.
Electronics also affect you. Those with bright screens and blue spectrum light, similar to sunlight, trick your brain into thinking it is daytime, disrupting your circadian rhythm. Even if it feels irresistible, you should avoid checking your social media feeds, texts, and emails an hour before bed. Try to eliminate all screens to allow your brain to relax and get ready for sleep.
Your Bed Matters
Another essential sleep hygiene tip is to pay attention to where you sleep. Research shows that when subjects sleep on “comfortable” mattresses, they report a lower body temperature and higher sleep efficiency and percentage of deep sleep than when sleeping in “uncomfortable” mattresses. They also report waking up less.
Your bed, your mattress, and your bed accessories matter. If your mattress is lumpy, bent, or bowed, or has springs sticking out of the fabric, it’s time for a new one. If your bed looks in good condition but you’re waking up with back, shoulder or hip pain, your mattress might be too firm and putting extra stress on those parts, or too soft and not supporting you enough. One accessory that makes a great difference is a cooling mattress topper. You can get one that contours to your body and even one with cooling gel memory foam.
You may have noticed that when you spend a lot of energy throughout the day, you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. Exercise not only keeps you fitter and healthier, but helps lower stress levels. It decompress the mind, “a cognitive process that is important for naturally transitioning to sleep.” This translates into greater ease at getting enough sleep. Additionally, exercise increases slow wave sleep. This is the amount amount of deep sleep you get, which allows your brain and body to reset and recover.
Avoid Late Workouts
Even though exercise is pivotal to your health, it may affect sleep when done later in the day. Working out shortly before bed can keep you awake. If you feel that you have difficulty going to sleep, avoid exercise at least 1 to 2 hours before going to bed. Vigorous exercise pre-bedtime can disrupt the onset of sleep because it creates physiologic excitement by increasing your heart rate.
In addition, exercise increases the release of endorphins. These chemicals give you a feeling of wellbeing but can keep you in a state of excitement. Exercise also raises your core body temperature, which may make it difficult to fall asleep. It’s believed that the decline in your body temperature helps to facilitate sleepiness, making the ideal temperature for sleeping about 65F degrees.
Another sleep hygiene tip that helps keep you healthy is to be relaxed. Chronic or acute stress can have huge detrimental effects. Everyone knows that stress alters your psychological state, increasing anxious feelings and other negative emotions. It can affect your physiology and obstruct deep sleep cycles as well.
In order to avoid that, you should incorporate activities that help stabilize the bond between your body, mind, and spirit. Some of the practices that can help are yoga, meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, prayer, affirmations, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization. You can also use a warm bath, a massage, or essential oils to help you wind down.
Be Mindful of Sleep Disruptors
- Improper Lighting: Compact Fluorescent Bulbs -CFBs (which give off blue light), Halogen Bulbs (white lights), and Light-Emitting Diode Bulbs (LEDs) are better off outside the bedroom.You can have a red light in your bedroom as these wavelengths of light don’t interfere with melatonin or your circadian rhythm (this sleep/wake cycle is your 24-hour internal clock that runs in the background of your brain and alternates between sleepiness and alertness depending on the time of the day). When you are ready to go to bed, darkness is the most conducive atmosphere for deep sleep.
- Large Meals: Avoid eating big meals before bedtime because they interfere with normal sleep patterns. Typically after a big meal, your body devotes energy for digestion, which takes several hours. Even though digestion slows down during sleep, sleep processes get interrupted as your body is using the energy it needs toward recovery for those tasks. Besides disrupting your sleep, overeating at night may induce and exacerbate acid reflux and indigestion and increase body temperature.
- Prescribed and Non-Prescribed Drugs: Street drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and medications [Alpha-blockers and beta-blockers (high blood pressure meds), corticosteroids (inflammation meds), SSRI anti-depressants, ACE-inhibitors (for high blood pressure and congestive heart failure), angiotensin II-receptor blockers (for coronary heart disease and heart failure), statins (treat high cholesterol), cholinesterase inhibitors (for memory loss), H1 antagonists (antihistamines), diuretics, sympathomimetic stimulants (treat ADD), theophylline (for asthma), and thyroid hormone] can disrupt sleep. So you should be mindful of the time you take them.
In the quest for a deep and rejuvenating night’s sleep, remember to reduce your caffeine intake and exposure to EMFs, stay active, and be mindful of your bed, sleep disruptors, and stress levels. The sleep hygiene tips mentioned above can make a real difference in your sleep and your overall health.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor