A Guide to Improving Your Sleep This Winter

A Guide to Improving Your Sleep This Winter

A Guide to Improving Your Sleep This Winter

Dietary and lifestyle problems are the most common factors known to affect sleep quality for most people. Therefore, to improve the quality of your sleep, you should shift your diet to a much lighter one with less sugar and carbohydrates. 

You can also take supplements and natural products to improve the quality of your sleep. 

If you don’t sleep well, you will have a day full of flaring mood swings and hormones. Sleep alters the function of your brain, causing you to have mood swings.

If you don’t sleep well, you will likely gain weight unnecessarily. As a result, you also open yourself up to illnesses, especially lifestyle diseases. 

However, if you sleep well, you will likely become healthier as you can control your diet. 

Most people think that long hours equate to good quality of sleep. However, that is not the case. You can sleep for long hours and still end up sleeping poorly.

If you are among the people with excess weight, try adjusting your sleep. Your weight gain has likely been affected by the quality of your sleep. 

Here is how you can enjoy quality sleep;

1. Increase Bright Light Exposure During the Day

Your brain has a circadian rhythm that keeps time for your body. Usually, it affects the time you sleep and when you wake up.

Regular exposure to sunlight or any other bright light keeps your circadian rhythm in check. In return, you’ll find you’re energised throughout the day, affecting your sleep quality. 

Exposure to sunlight is a theory that was tested Some time back. People with insomnia were asked to increase their time spent in the sun. As expected, the sun exposure helped reduce the time they stayed on before they fell asleep. In addition, that exposure also improved sleep quality. 

If you expose yourself to bright light and the sun for 3 hours a day, you will have three extra hours of sleep. That spare time will also improve your sleep quality by over 75%.

Although most experiments are done on people with severe insomnia, these tips will help you, too, even if you lack serious sleep problems.

If you don’t have access to the sun, you should get artificial lights or bulbs to help brighten your day. 

Increasing the amount of time you spend in light will increase the amount of time you spend asleep. You will likely fall asleep much faster if you raise your light exposure.

2. Reduce Blue Light Exposure in the Evening

Exposing yourself to light during the day increases the quality of your sleep at night. However, exposure to light at night tends to do more harm than good to your sleep patterns.

When you spend too much time in the light at night, you signal to your brain that it’s still daytime. Therefore, your body reduces the amount of sleep hormones it releases. As a result, you end up having poor sleep quality. 

Although bulbs are equally harmful, devices like your laptop release more significant quantities of blue light. 

Here is what you can do to escape too much light at night;

  • Wear glasses that prevent your eyes from seeing the light.
  • Get software like f.lux to block the excess from your laptop. 
  • Get an app that will stop the light on your phone. Such apps are available to both iPhone and Android users. 

The excess blue light sends a message to your brain that it’s still daytime. In return, this affects your body’s sleep hormones, lowering sleep quality. You should always strive to reduce light around you at night for better sleep. 

3. Don’t Take Caffeine at Night 

Caffeine is the most common drink for the American population. Its popularity is because of the many health benefits of drinking it to the body.

A small amount of caffeine helps you focus, be more energised, and perform better.

However, if you take it at night, it applies the same effects to your body, affecting your body’s natural relaxing system. 

Recent studies warn that you should never consume caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. The reason is that you will be highly stimulated, which will affect the quality of your sleep. 

Taking caffeine anytime after 3 p.m. is not advisable for insomnia. It is because caffeine lasts in large amounts in your body for up to 8 hours. 

You can still take decaffeinated if your body craves coffee at night. But you should stay off caffeine past 3 p.m. since it excites your body, affecting your sleep quality. 

4. Reduce Irregular or Long Daytime Naps

Many experts recommend that you have short naps in between your daytime schedule. However, sleeping long hours will negatively impact your rest at night. You confuse your brain into thinking it’s nighttime. Therefore you stay up for long hours at night before sleep. 

Additionally, by sleeping during the day, you relax your body too much, making you a laggard all day. Although naps of less than 30 mins during the day will improve your brain function, sleeping longer hours will likely harm your night schedule. 

However, if your mind is used to daytime naps, sleeping during the day will not affect the quality of your sleep at night. The effects of sleeping long hours during the day vary from person to person.

However, if you notice difficulty falling asleep, your daytime naps affect your sleep. Therefore, reduce the time you spend napping during the day. 

5. Try To Sleep and Wake at Consistent Times

Your brain sends cardiac rhythms to your brain; Therefore, you should have a fixed bedtime and waking-up time. In return, this improves the quality of your sleep and helps you sleep for longer hours. 

People who lack fixed sleeping schedules and sleep late on the weekend tend to have difficulty falling asleep. An irregular sleep pattern affects your circadian rhythm and the melatonin your body produces. As a result, you need better sleeping habits or have a tough time falling asleep.

If you are among those who struggle to fall asleep, try having a fixed sleeping schedule.

Try sleeping and waking up at the same time, even on weekends. Soon your body will get used to the sleeping rhythm. 

6. Take a Melatonin Supplement

Melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone, is the one that triggers your brain to relax when it’s time to sleep. Most people who struggle with sleep are prescribed Melatonin supplements to help them sleep better. 

The tablets are used to deal with severe insomnia. Taking them helps improve the quality of your sleep. 2mg of Melatonin supplements will improve the quality of your sleep by about 90%. They will also enhance your brain function during the day. Melatonin supplements also help improve how fast you fall asleep by about 20%.

Melatonin supplements do not have withdrawal effects meaning they aren’t addictive. You can also use Melatonin supplements when travelling to a different time zone. They are used to help your body adjust faster to the time zone.

The availability of Melatonin supplements depends on the country you come from. Some countries will require that you have a prescription for it. However, in most countries, it is readily available in drug stores.

Taking an average of 2 mg 30 minutes before you sleep will have a tremendous positive impact on your body.

You should take Melatonin supplements cautiously since it alters your brain’s chemistry. You should start with small doses as you adjust to larger quantities. Even still, you should talk to your doctor before taking the prescription. 

Before giving Melatonin supplements to your child, speak to your health provider first. The reason is that few studies reflect the impact of supplements on children.

Melatonin supplements are known to improve the general quality of your sleep and how fast you fall asleep. An average of 2 mg 45 minutes before sleeping will enhance the quality of your sleep. 

7. Consider These Other Supplements

Here are other supplements you can use to improve your sleep patterns;

  • Ginkgo biloba is a natural herb that helps your body relax by reducing stress. You should take about 250 mg 45 minutes before you sleep.
  • Glycine: 3g of this amino acid will help you sleep better. 
  • Valerian root: taking 500mg 30 minutes before bedtime will help you sleep better and fall asleep faster. 
  • Magnesium: this supplement will help your body relax better, improving the quality of your sleep. 
  • L-theanine: about 160mg 30 minutes before bed will help you sleep and relax better. 
  • Lavender: The natural herb works as a sedative that induces sleep. About 100mg of Lavender contains 30% of linalool, which will help you relax better. 

Although they are natural supplements, you should take them each at a time as instructed by a medical practitioner. You should also combine them with other sleeping practises, like sleeping on a fixed schedule, for them to work better. 

8. Don’t Drink Alcohol

Taking alcohol at night will disrupt your hormones and, in return, your sleep. It is common for alcohol to cause disorders like snoring, sleep apnea and disrupting sleep patterns. 

Melatonin is among the hormones it alters, which means your body will not have enough hormones to relax and sleep better. 

Alcohol is also known to reduce the production of human growth hormone. The hormone is critical in tuning your circadian rhythm, among other benefits. 

You should avoid alcohol at night as it alters melatonin production, which is essential to your sleeping rhythms. 

9. Optimise Your Bedroom Environment

You should also ensure that the furniture arrangement, lights, temperature and general bedroom arrangements are ideal. The reason is that they are also critical factors in your sleep patterns. 

Other external factors like noise can also alter your sleeping patterns.

Studies show that optimising your bedroom can improve the quality of your sleep by about 50%. You can regulate your house’s temperature, light and noise. 

Ensure your bedroom is a relaxed, peaceful and clean place to rest after a long day. Or take a nap. You improve your bedroom by minimising noise, e.g. from alarm clocks and reducing light from your gadgets. 

10. Set Your Bedroom Temperature

Your body’s heat and room temperature also significantly impact your sleep patterns.

When summer sets in, you tend to have difficulty falling asleep. You can also feel these effects when you visit a hotter location than you are used to.

Temperature affects your sleep more than noise does. The tighter the temperatures, the harder it becomes for you to fall asleep. You will also wake up more when it’s too hot in your room.

At least for most people, about 67-70 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal room temperature. However, this temperature varies with each individual. 

Ensure you find a temperature that best suits you to improve the quality of your sleep. 

11. Don’t Eat Late in the Evening

Late-night snacking or taking dinner late at night will affect how your body produces melatonin and HGH. As discussed, the disruption of melatonin affects your sleeping patterns in the long run. 

However, the quality of the snack is the more significant determinant of how fast you fall asleep. Experts say that if you take a meal with high carbs 4 hours before bedtime, you are more likely to fall asleep faster.

However, some studies show taking low carbs also improves the quality of your sleep. Therefore, if you are used to taking low carbs, maintaining the diet is crucial for your sleeping patterns. 

Taking large amounts before bed will disrupt your hormones and cause you to sleep poorly or wake up late at night. However, some meals will help you sleep better if you take them a few hours beforehand.

12. Relax and Clear Your Mind in the Evening

You can adopt a routine before sleep to help you sleep and relax. If you can relax before bed, you will likely have better quality sleep. Relaxation is a tool that is also used to treat severe insomnia. 

One of the techniques you can adopt is having a massage before you go to bed. A massage will help you relax and sleep faster when you go to bed.  You can also listen to calm music, take a hot bath, meditate, visualise or read a book as a way to relax. 

You should experiment with various relaxing methods to find the best suits you. Ensure you find one that helps you sleep faster. However, meditation and taking a hot bath are the most common techniques in the US.

13. Take a Relaxing Bath or Shower

Taking a shower or drawing a bath is another way to improve your sleep quality. It is a method to help older adults fall asleep faster and sleep better.

Studies show bathing about an hour before bed will help you sleep deeper and significantly fall asleep faster.

If you’re not ready to take a full bath, you can put your legs in hot water. Doing this will help you relax and improve the general quality of your sleep.

Showering before bed will have a significant impact on your sleep. You should adopt the technique. 

14. Rule Out a Sleep Disorder

Many Americans have sleep disorders that they don’t know they have. Therefore, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis if you have difficulty sleeping. 

The most common disorder is sleep apnea. It has the following signs; 

  • interrupted breathing 
  • Continuous breath pauses as you sleep.
  • Inconsistent breathing 

Studies show that more than 9% and 24% of women and men have sleep apnea in the USA. From the studies, you can tell that the disorder is quite common.

Other common sleep disorders are;

  • Circadian rhythm wake and sleep. 
  • Sleep movement 

These two disorders are common in people who work in shifts. 

If you have trouble sleeping, you should talk to your healthcare professional, who will help you diagnose. Sleep disorders are serious problems that need urgent solutions.

15 Get a Comfortable Bed, Mattress, and Pillow

Your bed’s quality will also affect your sleep quality significantly.  A recent study showed that a new and high quality reduces about 57% of back pain in 28 days. It also reduced shoulder pain and stiffness and increased sleep quality by 60%,59% and 60%, respectively. 

While new bedding will improve the general quality of your sleep, low-quality mattresses will cause stiffness and severe back pains. 

Most experts recommend that you change your mattress after every seven years. Therefore, if you’re yet to replace your bed, consider doing it soon before it affects your health and sleep quality. 

Each person has a different preference. Therefore you should check online for mattresses that best suit your needs. 

Improving your bedding after seven years will reduce the chances of getting back and joint pains. 

16. Exercise Regularly — But Not Before Bed

Exercising has various benefits, and improving your sleep quality is one of them. It is a common technique used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. People who exercise take about half the time and sleep about 50 minutes longer than those who don’t.

Exercise has been used to treat severe insomnia for a long time. It’s more efficient and works faster than drugs. Each time you exercise, you reduce the time you take to sleep by 55%. You also reduce anxiety levels by 15% and decrease how you wake up at night by 15%. In general, exercise affects the quality of your sleep by 18%.

Although exercise is good, if you exercise too late in the day, you’re likely to cause more problems to your health. Exercise produces adrenaline and epinephrine that induce alertness. Hence, you’ll likely have trouble sleeping if you exercise later in the day. 

However, the evidence showing the effects of exercising late is limited. Therefore, if exercising late doesn’t affect your sleeping patterns, you shouldn’t stop.

Generally, exercise is good for your sleeping patterns. 

17. Don’t Drink Liquids Before Bed

You shouldn’t drink water at night to prevent frequent urination. The reason is that waking up can alter your sleeping patterns. Additionally, you will likely miss the most important sleep stages. If you wake up too much at night 

Although water is vital for your health, you should not take it 1 hour or less before bed. However, if you do, ensure you use the restroom before bed. Doing this will reduce the chances of waking up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

You should minimise the liquids you take during the day to avoid waking up at night. 

Reasons for Poor Sleep Quality

How effective your day starts depends on your sleep quality the previous night. Therefore, you should adopt healthy practices to get quality sleep. That way, you can always have quality mornings and optimised days. 

In this article, you will find out why you’re having difficulty sleeping and are constantly tired in the morning. You’ll also find the solution to the sleeping problems and ways to improve your sleeping patterns.

However, this piece is written to educate you and not to replace your doctor’s advice. Hence, if you have any of these sleeping disorders, see a doctor before taking any supplements mentioned above. 

Here is why you have poor sleeping patterns;

1. Lifestyle

The choices and decisions you make throughout the day significantly impact the quality of sleep you get. Most sleep disruptions are a result of poor choices throughout the day.

Here are a few of the poor choices that will impact your sleeping patterns ;

  • Evening Exercise – Exercises are the solution to most health problems, insomnia included. However, if you exercise at night, you will likely have increased heart rates by the time you sleep. You should therefore adjust your workout time to avoid sleeping problems.
  • Electronic gadgets – everyone deals with problems with disconnecting our phones and laptops. We want to stay glued to them all day. However, if you spend too much time on them, especially at night, you will likely have sleeping problems. The blue light emitted by the gadgets can alter your circadian rhythm, which lowers your sleep quality. Therefore you should strive to sleep away from your devices that affect the quality of your sleep. 
  • Have a schedule – one of the most effective ways to deal with sleep problems Is developing a schedule. Although taking midday naps is essential for your sleep, sleeping too much can alter your circadian rhythm causing problems with your night sleep. You should avoid taking long naps within the day and have fixed rest and waking time.

2. Diet

Your diet affects every area of your life, including your sleep too. If you have difficulty sleeping or waking up, consider the food quality you consume daily.

Here are a few suggestions for the changes you should make;

  • Don’t snack at midnight – you need to avoid waking up in the middle of the night to snack. The snacks are known to cause heartburn and gastrointestinal problems that will alter the quality of your sleep. You will also wake up at night to go to the bathroom if you snack. 
  •  Ensure your diet has adequate minerals and vitamins – vitamins are highly beneficial for the quality of your sleep. Therefore, you should take a balanced diet with minerals and vitamins to sleep well. Sugar and carbohydrates are known to alter and reduce sleep quality; avoid taking them before it’s time to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol intake before bed– drinking caffeine has several benefits, like helping you stay energised all day. However, if you take it at night, you will have difficulty falling asleep. Alcohol will make you sleepy after a few sips. However, the morning after that will be full of hangovers, leaving you tired all day.

3. Mattress Quality

Where you sleep dramatically contributes to the quality of your sleep. Your pillows and mattresses are a significant determinant of the kind of evening you’re likely to have. 

Hence, you might change your bedding if you wake up with a painful back. 

  • Firmness – when deciding on your mattress firmness, you need to weigh in a few factors like your weight, sleeping position, health and if you have a partner. If your mattress sinks each time you sleep on it, it might be time to get a replacement. Several mattress brands exist, but most health experts recommend Casper Wave. It has felt pods that align your spine, eliminating backaches. 
  • Temperature – High temperatures will make you sweat throughout the night, which is very uncomfortable. Sticking in your sheets is not the ideal space to be in. Therefore, before you sleep, ensure you set your room to a temperature that best suits you. However, if that’s not an option, you should get a cooling cover and breathable bed sheets for your night. 

If your mattress leaves you with back pain and stiffness, it shows that you should get a replacement. Your mattress is a great contributor to the quality of sleep you get. There are several mattresses you can pick from; ensure you choose one that supports your needs. 

4. Stress

Day-to-day activities aren’t a ride in the park. They are the most significant source of stress for most people. Therefore, if you’re constantly pressured when it’s time to wake up, you’re likely stressed, impacting your sleep. 

Here is the relationship between stress and sleep. 

  • Fight or flight – stress causes your body to release adrenaline and cortisol, stress-related hormones. They are known to increase your heart rate, which can keep you up at night or make you anxious In the morning. (When stressed, the body usually activates your nervous system, which is responsible for the hormones). 
  • It’s a cycle – if you’ve had a rough day at work, chances are you’ll have a sleepless night. In return, you have a rough day, leading to another wild night. Breaking the stress and sleep cycle can be challenging, so you must take a few days off your schedule to give your mind time to readjust.

You can walk, medicate, exercise, reduce stress and avoid nicotine to avoid stress. 

However, you should talk to a healthcare professional if your stress levels are unmanageable. They will help you manage your stress. Your mental state is crucial for your well-being; therefore, you should take it seriously.

 Once you know what your stress triggers are, you should avoid them so you can have an easy time sleeping. 

5. Health Changes

Having trouble sleeping is one of the most common symptoms that you need to check on your health. Therefore, once you notice your health is having challenges, you should check for any new adjustments you could have made to your health. Here are a few suggestions;

  • Dealing with new medication can cause your body to slack off on sleeping schedules. However, these problems only last a while; soon enough, your body will get used to the medications. However, if two weeks pass and you’re still dealing with the difficulties, you should call your medical advisor for a replacement.
  • Aging – the aging complication is not always sudden. In most cases, it’s gradual until it sneaks up on you and starts causing problems with your sleep. 

The good news is all these challenges have a solution. If you take charge of your lifestyle and get proper treatment, you can overcome sleep challenges due to aging. You should consult a professional for appropriate advice on your lifestyle decisions. 

6. Sleep-Related Disorders

A large group of Americans live with sleep disorders that they have no idea of. Therefore, if you notice you spend a lot of time before falling asleep, wake up too early or can’t sleep, it might be time to get a diagnosis. Although insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, others can also significantly affect your sleep;

They include;

  • Willis-Ekbom. It is also known as Restless leg syndrome. Most people with this disorder have difficulty keeping their legs still, causing unintentional movement. You will often find them waking, kicking or threshing.
  • Sleep apnea – if you don’t treat sleep apnea, you risk your body for further complications. Usually, sleep apnea comes as difficulty breathing, producing choking sounds as you sleep, snorting or gasping for breath. People with apnea can never enjoy deep as their breathing gets interrupted. 

7. Environmental Problems

We often design our bedrooms to fit our needs; most of us have the coziest mattresses, pillows, excellent decor, and unique scents. However, the environment around the bedrooms can be the most significant cause of lack of sleep, even if we design our bedrooms to help us sleep peacefully.  

Here are some environmental disturbances:

  • Street noise – howling dogs, noisy cars and bright lights can cause the most significant sleep disruptions. If your environment is causing you problems, you should consider moving to a new neighbourhood. 
  • Restless partner –.If you’re sleeping next to someone constantly snoring and restless, chances are they will disrupt your sleep or cause you trouble as you try to rest. 

You can control some of these factors with a few products; you can get sleep masks, blackout curtains or earplugs to block out the house. If none of these work, consider moving to a new neighbourhood. The reason is that quality sleep is vital for your general health.

The Bottom Line

Sleep is vital to your well-being and your general performance. One extensive review linked insufficient sleep to an increased risk of obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults.

Other studies conclude that less than 7–8 hours per night increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re interested in optimal health and well-being, it’s recommended that you prioritise sleep and incorporate some of the tips above.

FAQs

How Do I Get 100% Sleep Quality?

Keeping a consistent bedtime and sleep duration increases overall sleep efficiency and quality. People tend to work long hours, stay up late during the weekdays, and then try to catch up on sleep by sleeping on weekends.

What Causes Winter Insomnia?

Reduced melatonin levels cause winter insomnia; sunlight reduces levels that affect melatonin production when winter hits. As a result, people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, this condition does not affect everyone.

What Is the 10 3 2 1 0 Sleep Rule?

Ten hours before bed: No more caffeine. Three hours before bed: No more food or alcohol. Two hours before bed: No more work. One hour before bed: No more screen time (shut off all phones, TVs and computers). 0: The number of times you’ll need to hit snooze in the AM.

What is the most healthy sleep position?

What Are the Best Positions for Sleeping?

Specifically, sleeping on the side or back is more beneficial than sleeping on the stomach. In either of these sleep positions, keeping your spine supported and balanced is easier, relieving pressure on the spinal tissues and enabling your muscles to relax and recover.

What Is the Best Time To Go To Bed at Night?

Between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. sleeping between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. ensures your heart functions optimally.

What Causes Poor Sleep Quality?

Poor sleep habits, irregular sleep schedules, or too much caffeine or alcohol can interfere with sleep quality. In a study of nursing students, smoking and daily coffee consumption were two of the most significant factors associated with poor sleep quality.

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