Whether your partner snores or you suffer from a sleep disorder, it’s imperative that you work towards a solution. After all, lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Quality Sleep Is Imperative. Here’s Why
Before we dive into some beneficial tips and tricks, you should understand the importance of sleep. Researchers have discovered many indications that sleep plays a major role in positive well-being, particularly in terms of your mental and physical health.
However, safety and even quality of life are other areas of concern. Here are just some of the reasons why you need to make sleep a priority:
Emotional well-being and optimal brain function — Without sleep, your brain would not be able to function. Studies have shown that a restful night’s sleep helps improve learning, enhances problem-solving skills, boosts creativity, and increases your ability to pay attention. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation has also been linked to depression, anger, lack of motivation, and mood swings.
Physical health — While you sleep, your body actively repairs itself. From your heart to your blood vessels, research has shown that ongoing sleep deprivation increases your risk of stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes. Impacting everything from optimal hormone regulation to immune function, sleep plays a major role in your physical health.
Performance and Safety — If you do not sleep at night, your performance levels will suffer during the day. In turn, this can lead to serious safety issues, including driving accidents and workplace injuries. You will also notice significant changes in productivity levels.
6 Tips to Improve Your Sleep-Wake Cycle
Although you may need to discuss an underlying health issue with your doctor, there are many ways that you can improve your sleep quality, starting today! The following tips can be implemented immediately, helping you improve all aspects of your well-being.
1. Take Action
If you sleep beside a snoring partner each night, you know how frustrating this can be. Before you are forced to sleep in separate rooms just so that you can get a full eight hours, try the following recommendations:
Invest in a white noise machine — These machines help you create a calm environment, and can also potentially drown out the sounds coming from your snoring partner. They are also recommended for individuals with insomnia and those who live on busy streets.
Purchase new pillows — In many cases, poor positioning of the head and a lack of neck support can leading to obstructed airways.
Seek a medical opinion — Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are often to blame. However, snoring may be a symptom of any number of conditions, some of which are easy to treat.
2. Create a Cool, Comfortable Environment
Your bedroom is meant to be a place of relaxation. That is why you should create a sleep environment that is comfortable and soothing. Not only should it be free from noise and light, but your bedroom should also be cool (between 60 and 67 degrees).
From your pillows to your bedsheets, make your bed a comfortable haven, opting for quality textiles. In addition, ensure that your bedding has not exceeded its life expectancy and is free of allergens — especially if you suffer from asthma.
3. Avoid Artificial Light at Night
Too much light at night, including the light emitted by TVs and cell phones, can interfere with healthy sleep. This is because your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle that is significantly affected by light exposure. This relationship is based on your body’s ability to produce melatonin — a hormone that prepares you for sleep.
So, turn off all screens an hour before bed, allow natural sunlight to wake you up, and do not turn on lights during the night. Instead, plan ahead and install red/orange night lights, which do not impact your circadian cycle in the same way that blue or white light does.
4. Exercise During the Day
Researchers have found a direct relationship between exercise and better sleep. However, they have also found that poor sleep may contribute to low physical activity, resulting in a bidirectional relationship. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep time and quality (allowing you to achieve more deep sleep), while reducing feelings of stress and anxiety — which is a major cause of sleepless nights. Starting today, try to get at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly (or 30 minutes/day, five days a week).
5. Alter Your Diet
Are you drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime? If so, this is an ideal place to start. If you are someone who often needs to get up in the night to use the bathroom, it’s important that you stop drinking within two hours of your regular bedtime. Remember, a consistent sleep schedule is imperative. You’ll also want to reduce your intake of sugar and consume more nutrient-dense foods, which promote a good night’s rest.
6. Practice Relaxation Techniques
After a busy day at work, your brain may be overstimulated. Whether you suffer from the odd worry or chronic anxiety, relaxation techniques can make all the difference. As you learn to focus on one task or thought at a time, invest some time into deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation. Here is an example of relaxation exercise to get you started.
Although there are many natural home remedies that you can implement today, it’s important to remember that each individual is unique. Your sleep deprivation may be caused by stress, while your neighbors could be caused by a medical condition.
Regardless of the cause, you’ll want to make quality sleep an immediate priority. Start by making your bed and overall bedroom as comfortable and relaxing as possible. Once you do begin to sleep better, you will notice significant improvements in your mental and physical health, as well as your performance levels.
The worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Whether you have sleep apnea or suffer from chronic insomnia, it's important that you discover the cause-and-effect relationship between your sleep patterns and your individual health. In the meantime, implement the tips above to support your well-being.