Feel like you regularly toss and turn the night away? Or maybe you frequently wake up exhausted even though you technically got plenty of sleep? You’re certainly not alone. According to the CDC, one in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep, and unfortunately, that lack of shuteye has several negative effects on your health you may not even be aware of.
Inconsistent and insufficient sleep negatively impacts your hormonal health, brain function, and performance in the gym. Lack of sleep can also make you feel hungrier than usual, downregulate your immune function, and even mess with your blood sugar levels, among several other health-harming consequences.
Suffice it to say that if you want to improve your overall well-being, getting enough shuteye is just as important as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. If you’re not sleeping well now, try implementing the tips below to see if they help!
Did you know getting regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do to improve your sleep? Studies have found that daily exercise can increase sleep duration by about 40 minutes and can also cut the time it takes you to fall asleep in half.
Research has also shown that in people with severe insomnia, regular exercise is more effective at improving sleep quality and duration than most medications! But there’s a caveat here: exercising too vigorously, too close to bedtime, may have the opposite effect.
Since physical activity boosts levels of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, it can make you feel more alert when you’re finished with a strenuous session. If you want to work out at night, that’s fine, but choose light- to moderate-intensity activities, so your training doesn’t interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
Expose Yourself to Bright Light During the Day
Your body has its own internal clock (which we call circadian rhythm) that’s designed to make you sleepy when the sun goes down and wake you when the sun comes up. Unfortunately, many of our daily habits can throw that natural rhythm out of whack.
Stress, caffeine, blue light exposure, artificial light, noise — all of these things can throw off your natural circadian rhythm. Internal factors like your hormones and genes can also disrupt that internal clock. But it’s possible to get your internal timekeeper back on track, and exposing yourself to bright, natural light during the day is one highly effective way to do that.
Limit Screen Time at Night
Exposing yourself to bright light during the day is great, but doing so at night can seriously interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. That’s because artificial light from screens (including your phone and TV) is blue spectrum light, which essentially tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime.
Blue light interferes with your body’s melatonin production (the hormone that makes you sleepy), which is why you might end up scrolling for hours, lying awake in bed, when all you really want is to conk out.
Luckily, there are several simple fixes for sleep-sabotaging screen exposure. You can:
● Wear glasses that block blue light.
● Install an app on your phone or tablet that filters out blue light.
● Download an app for your computer that blocks blue light.
● Stop looking at screens about two hours before you want to go to sleep.
Limit Daytime Napping
Napping during the day can confuse your body’s internal clock. So while a daytime snooze might seem like a great idea if you’re not sleeping well at night, it may actually make your sleep problem worse. That’s especially true if you take super-long naps or your daytime nap schedule is erratic.
Studies have found that power naps (30 minutes or less) can boost daytime brain function, so if you must sleep while the sun is up, keep your nap short and sweet. Limiting daytime naps will help regulate your body’s internal clock, so you have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep at night.
Have a Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule
One of the most effective ways to regulate your body’s internal clock is to hit the sack and wake up at relatively the same time each day. Studies have found that staying on a consistent sleep-wake schedule can help improve sleep quality over the long term and can also provide your brain with a natural signal that it’s time to snooze.
Avoid Alcohol at Night
Plenty of people have a few drinks at night thinking alcohol will help them relax and sleep better. Are you one of them? While it’s true that alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it certainly won’t improve your sleep quality.
Alcohol diminishes the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, which is particularly detrimental to your health since REM is the most restorative sleep state. A few adult beverages before bed can also disrupt your sleep during the second half of the night and increase your risk for sleep apnea.
If you’re going to drink at night, make sure you have your last sip three to four hours before bed so your body has plenty of time to metabolize the alcohol before you hit the sack.
Optimize Your Bedroom for Good Sleep
If you want a great night’s sleep, you must make sure you’re sleeping in an environment that’s conducive to great sleep. To optimize your bedroom for restful shuteye, you’ll want to:
● Hang blackout curtains to block light from outdoors.
● Keep electronic devices off or out of the bedroom (you can use your phone as your alarm, but keep it turned over so you can’t see the backlight).
● Don’t watch TV while you’re lying in bed before going to sleep.
● If you live in a noisy area, use a white noise machine or playing soothing music to block outside noise.
● Keep your bedroom cool — between 60 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
● Use a comfortable mattress and a pillow that keeps your neck and head properly aligned with the rest of your spine.
Ready to Get Healthier? Envision Fitness Can Help
At Envision Fitness, we specialize in highly individualized personal training, group exercise classes, athletic training, weight loss classes, and nutrition coaching. We’ve built an awesome, supportive community of members and we strive to give everyone here the tools they need to take their health and fitness journey to new heights. Ready to join us and experience your own health transformation? Then don’t hesitate to get in touch to set up a free consultation!
Feel free to call our Hopkins, MN office today at 952-444-2791 or request a consultation online, and we’ll be in touch!