Do you suffer from insomnia? Many people do, at least at some point in their lives. But there seems to be more and more people complaining about difficulty falling asleep these days. Some experts have even deduced that roughly 20% of Americans suffer from this at least periodically, if not chronically. Unsurprisingly, one of the contributing factors to this is the advent of technology and all the distractions that come with it. So here are some habits that can minimise your chances of getting insomnia. It will not get rid of it, but minimising it is the next best thing.
One: Make Sure You Exercise
Well, this is a health and fitness blog, and exercising is one of the things I keep on harping on about, so of course this will be the first thing I talk about. Although this one is subjective, several studies have shown that regular exercise can help with better sleep. There are a few conditions of course, such as not exercising just before bedtime. And yes the reverse is also true – the better your sleep is, the more you will want to exercise.
Two: Eat A Variety Of Food
Some years ago the University of Pennsylvania did some research and found that people who got seven to eight hours of sleep each night have a balanced and very diverse diet. While this is an interesting finding, the mechanisms that explain it have not been elucidated yet. Oh well. But it does stand to reason that eating certain foods prior to sleeping is a bad idea.
Three: Limit Caffeine Before Bedtime
There is a reason why coffee is known as a morning drink – because it is a stimulant. Experts recommend that people who have a tendency to suffer from insomnia should stay away from excess caffeine intake up to six hours before bed. Personally, I try not to drink coffee after 3 pm, since I tend to sleep before 11. Interestingly, caffeine induces sleep in some people. But until you ascertain that you fall into this category, you would be wise not to go there.
Four: Don’t Be Dependent On The ‘Snooze’ Button
This is something that gets most of us – hitting the snooze button multiple times. Some sleep experts believe that a reliance on this can actually affect your sleep cycle and make you more tired during the day. The quality of sleep after hitting the snooze cycle is poor anyway. So instead of relying on it, just go to bed earlier and let your natural body clock adjust itself so that you only need to hit the alarm once.
Five: Screen Off
Most people, myself included, will struggle with this one. Sleep experts suggest that staring at your mobile phone screen on social media might not be the best way to wind down just before bed. Instead, the light from such electronic devices can affect your brains melatonin production, and thereby mess up the chemical secretion that reminds your body that it’s time to shut down for the night.
Six: Know How Much Sleep You Need, And Adjust
It is true that everyone has their own “sweet spot” when it comes to the number of hours of sleep they need each night. However, the National Sleep Foundation actually has certain guidelines as to how many hours you really need. Of course, these guidelines comes as a range for each age group, so you can still find your sweet spot within the range. The bad news, however, is that the minimum number of sleep hours seem to be seven.
Seven: Don’t Vary Your Sleep Pattern Too Much On The Weekends
Okay, this will sound like I’m trying to guilt-trip you. But I’m not, because I’m guilty of violating this one as much as you. Sleep experts do say that sleeping in on the weekends can influence your sleep cycle and mess it up for the following week. If it is any consolation, at least this form of “social” jet lag is nowhere close to “real” jet lag.
Eight: Sunshine Is Your Friend
This is an oddball that somehow got thrown into this list. Researchers have recently found that office workers who have plenty of sun exposure tend to get better sleep than those who do not. Although they could not draw any definitive conclusions from their study, their thinking is that getting sunlight during the day makes one more alert, and helps one sleep better at night.
Nine: Temperature Is Key
Finally, the temperature of your sleeping environment can affect the quality of sleep that you get. Although the best temperature for each person varies, scientists agree that the ideal room temperature for fully clothed, fully blanketed individuals are between 15 to 19 degrees Celsius, and 30 to 32 degrees for those who prefer wearing a little less.
Remember, there is no sure-fire magic formula way of ensuring that you can get a good night’s sleep. If there was, I wouldn’t be an insomniac. My problem is being an over-thinker, yours might be different. But unless there is something keeping you up at night specifically, these habits will certainly help at least a little bit.
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