Sleep is vital to optimal functioning, so getting the right amount of sleep can be extremely beneficial for us. Not only does it keep our body systems healthy, it also keeps our mental functioning stable. The hectic and stressful lives we lead can reduce our sleep hours and sleep quality, but a lot of us are trying to improve our habits to sleep better. While a good bedtime routine is a great way to improve our sleep cycle, what we do through the entire day also matters. Here are some things to keep I’m mind if you are trying to incorporate better quality of sleep in your life.
1. Wake Up At The Same Time Every Day
When we say wake up at the same time everyday, we mean everyday including the weekends. This might seem harsh, especially because we want our weekends to catch up on lost sleep, but this habit can help to regulate our circadian rhythm which coordinates the hormones and metabolism connected to sleep and wakefulness. Our bodies prepare for waking up 1-2 hours before we become awake, so waking up at the same time everyday can maintain these important rhythms and not disrupt them. When practiced consistently for 2 weeks, your body should set itself for waking up at the same time.
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day because it refuels us and replenishes the body, while also helping our organ systems function well and keeps our metabolism fast. However, according to Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan, breakfast is seen to calm the parts of our brain that are linked to caveman behavior, such as preserving energy and avoiding predators. Essentially, a breakfast tells our brain that food is available and keeps it in a relaxed state.
3. Avoid Napping For More Than 20 Minutes
A lot of us like to take afternoon naps if the time is available, but avoid napping for more than 20 minutes. Longer naps lead us to deeper sleep that can be more difficult to wake up from, and can cause us to feel groggy when we are awake. 20 minutes is a good amount of time as it gives us a rest, but also lets us wake up refreshed.
4. Eat The Right Foods
The kind of food we eat has a drastic effect on how our body feels sleepy, and foods that are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates can be a great option. This is because these foods are digested more slowly, thus increasing our blood sugar level gradually, which in turn makes it less likely that we feel sleepy. Foods that have simple carbohydrates, like cookies, can cause a sudden spike in sugar levels and lead to more sleepiness or grogginess through the day.
5. Exposure To Natural Light
Getting out instead of staying inside the office can be a great thing for our circadian rhythm. When we are outside, we absorb the natural light which helps to synchronize our internal master clock, and allows our body to enter sleep cycles efficiently. It essentially keeps our circadian rhythms in check.
6. No Midday Coffee
By the middle part of the day, we tend to need a caffeine boost because we feel so sleepy, but this can create problems for us later. It can take 3 to 5 hours for just 50% of the caffeine we have ingested to wear off, which means that it can take anywhere up to 6 hours for the caffeine to stop working on our body. This disrupts our sleep cycle later in the night, so sticking to caffeine only in the morning can be the best option.
7. Go To Bed At The Same Time
Just like we wake up at the same time, we need to go to bed at the same time. This helps to make our sleep cycle efficient, and can even increase our chances of succeeding in our tasks and work for the next day. It helps to teach your body to maintain a routine, and because the brain loves consistency, it becomes easier to maintain the entire sleep cycle.
8. Bedtime Ritual
Finally, a good bedtime ritual is a must to get the best quality of sleep at night. The most important thing to do is to turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. The blue light that glares off the screens disrupts our melatonin production, which is important for our circadian rhythm. Try drinking something that can help you fell asleep better, like chamomile tea, instead of things that contain caffeine like hot chocolate or ice cream. These rituals can act as signals to get your body ready to sleep.