Desperately Need A Good Night’s Sleep? 5 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make
No more restless nights.
There are many reasons why we have trouble sleeping. This can be because of stress, anxiety, exhaustion, or even the food we eat. If we are committed to catching up on sleep and fixing our body clock, we may need to make a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few science-backed tips to get a good night’s sleep.
Set a night routine and stick to it.
Challenges in our day jobs and daily lives can make us feel anxious and overwhelmed. Because of this, thoughts continue to run through our heads, causing exhaustion, and messing up our sleep schedule.
For fifth-grade English teacher Jem, 28, establishing a night routine greatly helped.
“When the pandemic started and classes were already being held online, I became really anxious,” says Jem. “I researched ways on how I can get myself to feel sleepy, and decided to stick to a night routine.
The routine can be just a simple one, as long as we can commit to it. “I don’t do anything special naman. I just make sure to religiously follow my skincare routine, read a chapter of the book I’m currently into, and listen to a podcast.” This routine “tricked” her mind into thinking that her day is slowing down, and that her body is preparing to rest.
There is no exact formula as to what your night routine should be. You just have to pay attention to your body’s cues to find out what works for you.
This is about self-discipline. In order to keep your sleeping pattern in check, you need to leave behind whatever causes you stress when you go to bed.
“I used to stay up late at night because I would bring my phone to bed and answer emails, reply to texts, and still work even after office hours,” says 24-year-old Bianca, a freelance SEO Specialist. After several mornings feeling exhausted due to lack of sleep, Bianca decided to make a lifestyle change.
“I trained myself that after 9 in the evening, I will no longer be entertaining calls, texts, anything. I will be enjoying myself, maybe watch a movie until I fall asleep.” It has worked for her so far.
Don’t click the exit button just yet! You might have heard about exercise thousands of times, but it is truly beneficial for our bodies. It does not only make you fitter and leaner, it also improves your sleeping pattern!
Belle, a 54-year-old mom of six, went through menopause three years ago, and it greatly affected her body clock.
“I would sleep at 8 pm and wake up at midnight, and then sleep again at 2 am and wake up at 4 am, and it became a cycle. I was restless,” she says. When she started incorporating exercise into her daily routine, she noticed an improvement in her sleeping pattern. “I do not wake up so many times at night anymore, I also wake up happier and in a better mood most of the time.”
According to Dr. Karen Carlson, exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones like melatonin, thus making us feel drowsy at bedtime. However, she suggests that morning workouts are more ideal than working out at night, as the latter can be too stimulating for the body. "Exposing yourself to bright daylight first thing in the morning will help the natural circadian rhythm," she adds.
Avoid nicotine and alcohol before bedtime.
As reported in the journal Sleep, nicotine and alcohol intake at least four hours before bedtime has negative effects on our sleep schedule. An article by News Medical Life Sciences states that nicotine is the factor most strongly associated with sleep disruption.
“There was a significant interaction between evening nicotine use and insomnia. Among participants with insomnia, evening nicotine intake was associated with an average 43-minute reduction in sleep duration.”
In terms of caffeine intake, however, there are still opposing studies on its effects on our sleeping patterns. For some people, drinking coffee before bedtime can cause them to stay up late, but for others, caffeine had no such effect at all.
We all seem to be attached to our phones as they have become indispensable tools in our daily lives. However, our gadgets can also be a distraction during bedtime.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests avoiding the use of mobile phones, television, or any electronic device at least 30 minutes before bedtime. It says the blue light coming from these devices restrains the production of sleep hormones, such as melatonin, which also controls our sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm.
Sleep is a huge part of our lives, which is why we should take it seriously. If we achieve quality sleep and get enough rest, we will wake up to a brand-new morning, happier and ready for the day’s challenges.