By: Dr. Steven Scappaticci, B.Sc. (Hons.), CSCS, DC
Ever find that you have trouble falling asleep? Maybe when you wake up, you don’t feel rested and refreshed. Here are seven tips to help you get a better night’s sleep! (Note: these are general tips and may affect people differently)
1. Exercise Daily
Remember as a kid, you’d play outside all day and then come bedtime once your head hit the pillow you fell asleep immediately? How about the phrase, “I slept like a baby”? The more vigorous the exercise during the day, the stronger the sleep benefits – but even light exercise (i.e. walking for 10 minutes a day) can improve sleep quality. It should be noted that some people may have trouble falling asleep if they work out too soon before bed (due to increased metabolism, body temperature, and certain hormone levels). If this occurs, aim to exercise earlier (i.e. at least 3 hours before bed).
2. Cut Down On Caffeine
Caffeine affects everyone differently. It may affect some individuals for up to 10-12 hours after consumption. It can contribute to keeping you alert and awake longer than you’d like. Consider cutting down on cigarettes, alcohol, and big meals before bed as well, as these can disrupt your sleep.
3. Turn Off Smartphones & Other Electronics
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain releases more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy. At night it is suggested to avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime as the blue light emitted by your phone, table, computer, or TV can be disruptive. Also, try skipping on watching late-night television, as these can be more stimulating than relaxing. Try listening to soothing music or audio books instead. If reading before bed, try not to use a tablet that is backlit as they are more disruptive than e-readers.
4. Get Into a Routine
Going to bed and waking up around the same times each day help set your body’s “internal clock”. Choose a bedtime when you normally feel tired, so you don’t toss and turn.
5. Decrease Your Stress
The use of relaxation techniques can help to wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep. Some techniques include: deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualizing a peaceful place.
6. Create A Calm & Relaxing Sleep Environment
This can help to calm oneself in preparation for bed. Tips for improving one’s sleep environment include: keeping noise down (e.g. noise from outside or even from within the house), keeping your room cool (~18 deg Celsius), and ensuring that you have a comfortable bed.
7. Stay Out of Your Head
Ever lie in bed at night and remember something you did long ago? Maybe you wish you could go back and change something. Are these the things that are keeping you up at night? These are unnecessary factors that can prevent you from falling asleep. Try and clear your mind with relaxation techniques to help you get to sleep faster and stop thinking of the past.
There are many other tips out there but hopefully these help you start to get a better nights sleep. Feel free to progressively include these into your daily life to see what works for you!
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