It’s impossible to undersell how important a good night of sleep really is. It might surprise you to learn that a good night’s rest offers a wide variety of powerful benefits, from enhanced brain functionality to long-lasting energy. Here are just a few of the ways that sleep can help transform your health and wellness:
- Boosts your immune system
- Enhances heart health
- Improves memory retention
- Staves off extra weight
These are just a few of the cornerstone benefits that sleep offers. And those people who consistently do not receive quality sleep at night run elevated risks for various health challenges, which can adversely affect memory, mood, physical activity and other essential functions.
Looking for the absolute easiest way to live a healthier, well-rounded life? Take advantage of our tips to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, outlined below.
1. Temperature is key
When it comes to falling asleep and staying asleep all night, temperature really does have the potential to make or break your sleep.
Did you know that your body temperature actually changes as you fall asleep? It’s true: your body tends to run 1-2 degrees colder during sleep. This means that turning your thermostat down even a few degrees can help put you – and keep you – in a restful state all night, as you set an environment temperature more conducive to your internal equilibrium.
There are also steps you can take before you slip into bed, that can help you reach an ideal temperature while at the same time putting you into a relaxed state. Take the time for a warm bath or a shower before bed. Once your bath or shower ends, your body will begin to naturally cool down, automatically beginning the transition toward sleep.
2. Stick to a daily routine
So much of our success can be tied back to discipline, and to the daily routine we choose to follow. Even if you can take simple steps toward maintaining a healthy, daily schedule, you’ll yield massive dividends in terms of efficiency, discipline and quality of life.
And here’s the good news: your daily routine doesn’t need to be complicated at all. Try identifying the times each morning when you’d like to wake up, brush your teeth, get dressed, etc., and hold yourself accountable to those times. At the end of the day, outline a time when you’d like to turn off the technology and prepare for sleep. If you can successfully establish times to wake and rest, ideally combined with other healthy habits, your daily routine can help you reach sleep goals.
3. Keep daytime naps to a minimum
No surprise here: if you find yourself napping during the day, it’s going to be even more difficult to get full, uninterrupted periods of sleep at night. And don’t get us wrong, we know that sometimes it’s certainly not easy to avoid a daily nap, especially when you find yourself with free time to kill or you’re particularly tired on a particular day.
It’s also worth noting that some individuals do not see a decrease in sleep quality or quantity as a result of napping. Try testing days with naps and with no naps, to better identify how these factors affect you.
4. Find a comfortable sleep position
Looking to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer? Get comfortable! So much of falling asleep hinges on you being in a comfortable, relaxed position. Try taking a bath, reading a book, listening to music, drinking a warm beverage, praying or meditating before you go to bed, to put yourself in a relaxed, comfortable state at the end of the day.
Some health experts have made a science out of sleep positions. While we’re not going to take it that far, we do believe that certain sleep positions can help you relax and reach a comfortable state when it’s time to close your eyes. The most popular sleep position – the fetal position – helps you reach sleep fast and reduces the potential for snoring. Sleeping on your back can help you alleviate knee and hip issues, while those sleeping on their sides can expect the benefits of improved digestion and reduced heartburn.
We suggest you avoid sleeping on your stomach. Not only can you develop back and/or neck pain as a result of maintaining this sleep position over time; sleeping on the stomach has also been tied to extra pressure applied to joints and muscles, which is the opposite of the relaxed state you’re looking to achieve through sleep.
5. Limit your use of electronics, especially your phone
During the day, our phones and computers are immensely useful tools. They help us communicate with others, accomplish tasks, and stay informed in a constantly-changing world. At the end of the day, however, these machines can have an adverse effect on our sleep.
Melatonin, a hormone created by the pineal gland that helps reduce depression and promote regular circadian rhythms, is immensely important in fostering positive sleep habits. Aptly nicknamed the “sleep hormone,” melatonin controls our sleep-wake habits. Here’s the issue: blue light, the type of light produced by many electronics including cell phones, inhibits the body’s production of melatonin, slowing your sleep-wake cycle and promoting irregular sleep patterns.
There’s a simple fix to a phone’s negative effects on sleep cycles: power down your phone at the same time every evening, roughly 30-60 minutes before you plan on falling asleep. This helps your body reach a comfortable state, free from the influence of blue light.
6. Take time to exercise every day
Believe it or not, exercise during the day can actually help you achieve better, longer-lasting sleep at night. In fact, exercise has been linked to better sleep results, especially if that exercise lasts at least 90 minutes in duration.
With so many ways to exercise and increase heart rate, there’s bound to be a sport or athletic activity with your name on it. If you find that joint issues are preventing you from more rigorous activity, give swimming a try: the water eliminates any joint issues and provides a healthy resistance workout. Even if it’s just a quick run around the neighborhood or a few walks up and down the stairs, accelerating your heart rate during the day can help you achieve the long-lasting sleep that’s been eluding you.
Addressing mental health obstacles to sleep
Sometimes, the obstacles that prevent solid sleep aren’t physical ones. Mental or behavioral health concerns should be stealing your sleep at night, replacing what should be restful hours with anxiety or the effects of other mood disorders. If you find your thoughts and feelings are preventing the sleep you know you deserve, Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare can help.
Our outpatient mental and behavioral health services help both adults and adolescents address health challenges as they arise. If you find mood or anxiety disorders are negatively impacting your quality of sleep, feel free to call us at (678) 343-2908. Or, visit us online to learn even more about how we can help you tackle impediments to your sleep.