Many adults suffer from bad sleeping habits that prevent them from getting quality sleep at night and can lead to difficulties in their daily lives, such as tiredness, lack of concentration or health problems. Breaking those habits as early as possible is important for your health and wellbeing, because in the long run poor sleep can lead to serious issues such as high blood pressure, chronic headaches, increased risk of obesity and many more.
Learn how to identify habits that are potentially damaging to your sleep-wake cycle and what you can do to build a healthier sleep routine.
Understanding the Sleep-Wake Cycle
The 24-hour cycle that controls the way our body works is known as the circadian rhythm. It’s made up of a person’s sleep-wake cycle, alertness, body temperature, as well as their mood.
The different systems in the human body follow different rhythms that are all synchronised to the master clock of the brain. Environmental factors such as light can influence your body clock. This is why the circadian rhythm and your sleep-wake cycle is directly tied to the change between day and night.
The circadian rhythm is essential for your sleep. If your sleep-wake cycle is misaligned your brain doesn’t know when to give your body a cue to rest, which can lead to insomnia or other serious sleep problems. Research also suggests that your circadian rhythm can have a significant impact on mental as well as physical health.
Which Habits Can Damage Your Sleep Routine?
A lot of your sleeping habits can be damaging to your sleep schedule without you realising. One of the bad habits found in many adults is eating larger meals close to bedtime. Another common habit that can throw off your sleep-wake cycle is consuming too much caffeine during the day or drinking beverages containing caffeine in the evening. Other routines that can ruin your sleep schedule include playing video games right before bed or watching TV and browsing your phone in bed while you’re trying to fall asleep.
Best Tips to Get Your Sleep Schedule on Track
There are many things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep, but sometimes the basic tricks like keeping a consistent schedule and allowing yourself to properly relax before bed can work wonders. We have compiled the best tips you can follow to improve your sleep habits.
Analyse and change your current sleeping habits
The first step to improving your sleep routine is to find what you’re doing wrong. Think about what you usually do right before bed to identify any habits that might be disturbing your healthy night’s rest. Once you know exactly what is causing the issues with your sleep, it will be easier to approach them one by one. Implement any changes to your routine gradually, allowing your body to adjust. Changing your complete routine at once will likely make the problem worse as you’ll be more prone to falling into your old bad habits.
Create a comforting environment
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Comfort and calmness are essential for getting good sleep, so the atmosphere in the place where you sleep should be representing just that. Before you go to bed, get rid of any clutter in your room, dim the lighting, turn off any TVs, speakers or other sound systems, and turn off the heating to keep a cool temperature in the room.
Additionally, make sure your mattress and bed are comfortable so you don’t wake up with aching back or neck. Replace your mattress once it’s visibly worn out, which can be between five to eight years depending on the type of mattress. You should do the same with your other bedding such as pillows, duvets or mattress toppers.
Have a bedtime routine
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to create a consistent sleeping routine. Before going to bed make sure you turn off any electronics that will distract you and avoid watching television in bed. Give yourself enough time to unwind before falling asleep. The ideal time to go to sleep is around 10pm because research shows that the best quality sleep occurs between 10pm and 6am.
No naps during the day
Try to avoid napping during the day as it can interfere with your regular sleep at night. If you really need a nap, make sure to keep it between 15 minutes to half an hour. Otherwise, your body will want more sleep and you’ll feel even more tired than before your nap. You should also ensure you get enough sleep at night as this will reduce your need to nap during the day and help you break unhealthy sleeping habits.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine before bed
Caffeine is one of the well known stimulants that has proven to have an effect on your sleep pattern by increasing alertness during the night and causing poor sleep habits. Your daily dose of caffeine shouldn’t exceed two servings per day. You should also avoid drinking any beverages containing caffeine after 12pm. There are studies showing that consuming caffeine up to six hours before your bedtime could also dramatically decrease the time you sleep.
Try to exercise regularly
Exercising regularly can help you sleep better and overall feel better. It can lower your stress hormones allowing your body to rest better during the night. As well as that it’s proven to reduce mental issues that affect the quality of your sleep such as depression, anxiety and insomnia, making it easier to fall asleep. You shouldn’t, however, exercise too close to your bedtime as the energizing effect of the workout could end up having the opposite effect and keep you up rather than allowing you to rest.
Give natural sleep-remedies a try
If you’re having trouble getting a good sleep even after trying other methods, it might be beneficial to try some herbal remedies to help you relax. Valerian and Chamomile are a couple of the herbs that can help you doze right off and sleep soundly all night long. A cup of warm Chamomile tea before bed is known to calm one’s nerves, while Valerian reduces the stress levels and increases serotonin levels, essentially working as a sedative on the body. Lemons, lavender and passion flower are also known to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
Have a daily relaxing bedtime ritual
Doing relaxing activities such as reading a book or listening to music is proven to help people enjoy a more restful sleep at night, so try to add time for a relaxing bedtime ritual in your routine. Other relaxation practices can be taking a bath, doing stretching exercises or meditating.