A little more of this and a little less of that. Learn the lifestyle adjustments that lead to a good night’s sleep
These days, the only connection we have with the rest of the world, our friends and family is through the internet. And if we started the year already glued to our screens, the past months have proven this can still be kicked up a notch—for better or worse. Couple this in-quarantine development with the reality that it has gotten extra challenging to stay physically active, and you have the sneaky recipe for poor sleep quality.
Ask yourself this: do you get eight hours yet wake up feeling exhausted? Do you wake up in the middle of the night then find it difficult to go back to sleep? To begin with, does it take a lot of effort for you to doze off? A series of “yes” answers here only confirms you aren’t getting a good night’s rest. Ultimately, this can affect your waking hours, too, hampering work performance, physical performance and general brain functions.
But there’s no reason to go see a sleep doctor to address this just yet. Small adjustments can make a big impact and improve the quality of your sleep. Here are five simple things you can try for starters:
Get some sun during the day.
When we talk about our body clock, we touch on something called the circadian rhythm. It’s part of our biology to follow a daily sleep-wake cycle largely affected by exposure to light (during the day) and darkness (at night).
Natural sunlight is a powerful trigger that not only signals the brain to produce the happy hormone serotonin, but likewise keeps sleep and wake patterns in check.
Set a caffeine cut-off.
It comes as no surprise that caffeine (famously found in coffee) can keep a person alert and energetic during the day. But there are boundaries that need to be set with this particular stimulant. Coffee consumption can affect both sleep quality and duration, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Considering that the effects of caffeine on the body can last anywhere between three to seven hours, it’s important to set a cut-off. No coffee after 3PM is a good place to start.
Target a good sleep rhythm.
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep isn’t the only thing that’s ideal. The time you go to bed and wake up the next day also count.
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is important to a good night’s rest. This is a routine you can build slowly but surely starting with a strict bedtime each night and a steady wakeup call each morning. To encourage this healthy rhythm, a tip: follow your sleep schedule even on weekends and avoid napping during the day.
Don’t go to bed on a full stomach.
With the above sleep schedule in mind, it’s smart to backtrack and similarly set time slots for the rest of your PM activities.
Working back, it’s ideal that you have your last meal at least three hours before your bedtime (for fluid intake, at least one). This gives your digestive system the time it needs to get to work to metabolize food and liquid. The rule is: when you get some rest, your body—with all its processes—should be at rest, too.
Protect yourself from blue light exposure before bed.
The body’s pineal gland is triggered by darkness for it to secrete the sleep hormone melatonin. But with blue light from late-night scrolling or laptop work while in bed, the body instead is signaled to halt melatonin production and stay awake.
While protective screens and settings for your electronics work great, it’s better to turn your bed and bedside into a gadget-free zone. This allows you to wind down without any disruption.
Looking for more things to do? Here are activities you can try that don’t involve a screen.