Sleep is a necessary part of our lives, with the average adult needing about eight hours of sleep per night to function well the following day. Adequate sleep is an essential component of an overall healthy lifestyle. Healthy sleep habits impact mood, memory, weight control, cardiac health, mental clarity, attention span, physical performance, stress level, and overall lifespan. Millions of Americans suffer from both diagnosed and undiagnosed sleep disorders, and with sleep playing such an integral role in our health, it is extremely important to optimize our sleep experience. Believe it or not, there are likely some culprits in your home that could be robbing you of some much needed rest.
Snack foods are a very tempting culprit that contribute to less than ideal sleep patterns. While many feel hungry before bed, avoid eating sugary, acidic, heavy, or high calorie snacks before bedtime. Heavy snacking before bedtime can cause heartburn, weight gain, or increased insomnia. Going to bed hungry also has negative results, so if you must snack try to choose a small high protein snack to fill you up and calm you down.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. As a stimulant, caffeine makes it difficult for many people to fall asleep. Even if you do not feel that caffeine affects your sleep, you are mistaken. If sleep does occur following caffeine consumption, it will be poor quality. Consuming caffeine before bed tends to decrease slow wave REM sleep and increase awakenings. While alcohol may help calm you and aid you in falling asleep, it tends to cause increased awakenings later in the night as it is metabolized. For a healthy and thorough night of rest, it is best to just drink water before bed.
Monitor the light in your sleeping quarters. Light is one of the most significant external factors impacting sleep quality. Light influences your internal clock, signaling whether it is daytime or nighttime, and our bodies react accordingly. If you live in an area with longer daylight hours, seasonal fluctuation, or a city with year round light pollution, you may want to consider investing in some high quality shutters. The best window treatments in Las Vegas can help block the extra light outside.
Avoid screen time at bedtime, such as television, smartphones, and tablets. This can be difficult in an age of technology. Using any sort of light-emitting technology before bed interferes with your natural wake and sleep habits, causing a suppression in melatonin levels. Screen time at night time significantly affects sleep quantity and quality. Consider skipping television time at bedtime and record your favorite programs for later viewing. If you must use technology before bedtime, it may be beneficial to invest in a blue light filter, as blue wave lengths are the most disruptive to sleep.
Consider the scents you surround yourself with. Peppermint and lemon are stimulating scents, while lavender and jasmine are soothing. Even something as simple as peppermint toothpaste may energize you and provide a boost you do not want at bedtime. Perhaps try a new flavor of toothpaste and mouthwash for the evening, and save the minty fresh flavor for the morning to help wake you up.
Limit bed sharing practices. Partner movement, wiggly pets, and loving children all take up precious bed space and make sleeping more difficult. While some of these things are inevitable, it is best to limit them as much as possible. Help your pets rest comfortably in their own space and encourage kids to sleep in their own beds most nights. The more living bodies you have in your bed, the more likely you are to be awakened.
External factors play a huge role in sleep quantity and quality, so do your best to set the stage for a restful night’s sleep. You will look, feel, and function better in the morning if you give your body a chance to rejuvenate at night.