Many recognize the importance of sleep, however sleep is often â€˜left in the dark.' In fact, about half of the world is getting less sleep than what they need. We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping and we know it's closely linked to quality of life â€“ so why not prioritize sleep alongside your nutrition and exercise. Let's rethink our sleep routine and find opportunities to improve. Here are five ways to improve your sleep health.
- Engage in regular physical activity. Physical activity helps support overall quality of sleep. Include a combination of both aerobic exercise and strength training. Even modest levels of physical activity can improve sleep quality. Find a time of the day to get moving. Some may prefer to exercise earlier in the day whereas some prefer at night. Good news is both times are potentially good. It was previously thought that exercising too close to bedtime was bad, but this is not necessarily true for all â€“ it really depends on the individual. Find what works best for you!
- Get into a routine with sleep in mind. A schedule which incorporates sleep is the sure way to get adequate sleep each night. Follow a consistent sleep schedule by setting a time to go to bed and wake up. According to The National Sleep Foundation - healthy adults should sleep about seven to nine hours each night. With that in mind - plan ahead so you can ensure you're getting enough shut eye. Before you know it â€“ that new bedtime will become a natural healthy habit.
- Create a good sleep environment. Your bedroom is an important element which could help sleep or interfere with sleep. When it comes to your environment, consider temperature and lighting. Keep temperatures cool, yet comfortable. Temperatures that are too warm or too cool could potentially interfere with your ability to go to sleep and stay asleep. Reduce artificial indoor lighting and keep the room dark.
- Limit caffeine. Caffeine is known as a stimulant, because it helps to stimulate the central nervous system. After ingestion, caffeine can remain elevated in the body for about four to six hours. Caffeine is naturally found within some plants and seeds known to be naturally-occurring in 60+ plants. It's commonly found in coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, cocoa beans, guarana and yerba mate. Plan your caffeine accordingly so it does not interfere with your sleep. Try some herbal teas, decaffeinated beverages, nut milks or milk.
- Limit all electronics. This is something we all tend to know, but can't seem to commit to. It's especially challenging today when were surrounded by electronics from our phones, smart devices, computers, TV and more. However, it's important to disconnect towards bedtime as it could potentially interfere with your sleep. It can disrupt the body's natural circadian rhythm impacting the body's ability to sleep. Aim to turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed.
Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy body and mind. It's an essential part of life and adequate quality sleep can help us to feel rested and restored. Prioritize sleep alongside your nutrition and exercise. Start by making small changes. Overtime those little efforts can translate into improvements in exercise performance and quality of life. Find opportunities' where you could improve your nighttime routine and make smarter choices to help improve your quality of sleep. Sleep well!