Many people struggle with insomnia from time to time. An occasional restless night usually isn’t cause for concern. But if you often find it hard to sleep at night, it’s time to take steps to improve your sleep quality.
Lack of sleep can trigger serious health problems, including depression and weight gain. Some sleep disorders are even associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, improving your sleep quality can protect your heart health. The following tips on how to sleep through the night will help you feel well-rested. This in turn allows you to stay active and make choices that safeguard your health.
1. Sleep Quantity vs. Quality
You already know that it’s important to get enough sleep. But you might need more sleep than you realize. Adults generally need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and some may require more. If you’re only sleeping for a few hours a night, you’re at risk for sleep deprivation.
But your sleep quantity doesn’t provide the full picture. You might feel groggy or tired after a full night’s sleep. Daytime grogginess can be a sign of poor sleep quality. If you want to protect your health, you can’t afford to overlook these symptoms. Good sleep quality is an essential part of the wellness puzzle, so you’ll want to learn how to sleep better at night naturally.
2. The Importance of Sleep Quality
According to experts, good sleep quality means:
- Falling asleep within 30 minutes
- Waking no more than once at night
- Returning to sleep within 20 minutes
The best way to tell whether you’re getting good-quality sleep? Consider how you feel the next day. If you feel rested and energized, you’re probably getting enough good-quality sleep. But if you often feel run down and exhausted, even after eight hours of sleep, you might have a sleep disorder.
Poor-quality sleep can harm your physical and mental health. Sleeplessness is linked to poor health choices, including smoking and an unhealthy diet. People who struggle with sleep disorders are also at risk for weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and reduced brain function.
Fortunately, most people can improve their sleep cycle through a few simple changes that can help you sleep through the night. Sleep hygiene is the practice and habits that enhance your sleep quality. Boosting your sleep hygiene can help you feel rested during the day and sleep soundly at night.
3. How to Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
To learn how to sleep better at night naturally, check out the following tips to learn how to practice good sleep hygiene.
Limit Daytime Naps
If you don’t sleep well at night, a nap can seem tempting. But daytime napping can disrupt your sleep cycle. Long naps make it harder to fall asleep that night. Experts recommend limiting daytime naps to 20-30 minutes. Sleeping for much longer can delay your nighttime sleep cycle and leave you groggy the next day.
Aerobic exercise improves sleep quality and helps to regulate your sleep cycle. Walking, cycling, and swimming are excellent choices for most people. High-impact exercises like running are another option. But avoid vigorous exercises before bed. Evening workouts can keep you awake long past your bedtime.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
People with sleep problems often rely on coffee to boost their energy levels. But caffeine can remain in your body for several hours. If you consume caffeine close to bedtime, it can sabotage your sleep cycle.
It’s best to limit caffeine in the afternoon. Cutting out caffeine by midday helps clear your morning coffee from your body by bedtime. Resist the temptation for a nightcap: alcohol before bed can interfere with your sleep cycle.
Restrict Food Before Bed
Heavy meals can trigger indigestion and painful heartburn. These symptoms can interrupt your sleep cycle and lead to nighttime waking. If you need a snack before bed, opt for something light. Save spicy, fried, or fatty foods for the daytime to help you sleep better at night naturally.
Soak Up the Sunlight
Exposure to natural sunlight helps regulate your sleep cycle. If you have trouble sleeping at night, try to get out in the sunshine early in the day. Daytime sunlight helps your body determine when it’s time to sleep. If there isn’t much sunlight where you live, light therapy may help.
Keep Your Bedroom Comfortable
A cozy bedroom makes it easy to fall and stay asleep. Experts recommend keeping your bedroom between 60-68 degrees. Bright lights can keep you awake, so keep the room as dark as possible. If you live in a noisy area, earplugs or white noise machines are products to help you sleep so you can drown out unpleasant sounds.
4. What If Lifestyle Changes Don’t Help?
Lifestyle changes help most people regulate their sleep cycle. But if you still struggle with your sleep, you may have an underlying health problem. Sleep disturbances can be a sign of:
- Mental illness
- Chronic pain
- Sinus problems
- Thyroid disorders
If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, your doctor can help you identify the problem. Let your doctor know if you often feel tired, even after getting a full night’s sleep. Daytime sleepiness can be a sign of sleep disorders.
5. What About Sleeping Medications?
Many products to help you sleep are available over the counter and by prescription. But these drugs don’t always deliver lasting results. Sleeping medications can also cause side effects, including daytime grogginess. If you have sleep apnea, these medications may even worsen your condition.
Sleep apnea occurs when your airway becomes obstructed during the night. You may stop and start breathing several times while you’re asleep. These pauses in your breathing can cause oxygen levels to drop. Over time, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease. This is why it is so important to find out whether you have sleep apnea.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, an at-home sleep test can be an easy, convenient way to find out. Lunella allows consumers to take a sleep apnea test from the comfort of their own home and receive a proper data-driven diagnosis from a board-certified sleep physician and a prescription for treatment, if necessary.
This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.