Are you someone who can fall asleep soon after getting into bed, within 30 minutes or less? Do you typically sleep straight through the night, waking up no more than once per night? Are you able to sleep the recommended seven to nine hours that is recommended for adults? If so, then you are most likely achieving what is referred to as good sleep quality. When you have good sleep quality, you most likely awake in the morning feeling rested, rejuvenated and energized.
Unfortunately, many of us experience what is referred to as poor sleep quality. Poor sleep quality is when it takes us longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep, waking up more than once per night and it can take us longer than 20 minutes to fall back asleep after waking up.
There are many reasons why we need good quality sleep. Listed below are just a few of the important benefits of getting consistent and restful sleep.
- Sleep is crucial for maintaining health and wellbeing.
- Quality sleep helps us maintain a healthy weight.
- We tend to have a stronger immune system and get sick less often.
- Quality sleep, helps lower the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, and diabetes.
- Getting enough quality sleep, helps us to focus and have clearer thinking in school and work.
So how can we enjoy a restful night’s sleep?
Setting Up Your Sleep Environment
Creating the right sleep environment can be a supportive step for quality sleep. This can entail a few things to consider, such as keeping the room cool, at a temperature between 60 – 67 degrees fahrenheit and keeping the bedroom as dark as possible, perhaps using blackout curtains to block out street lights.
Healthy Habit Tip: Try to eliminate noise as much as possible. While there are ear plugs and sound machines to help block noise, for a quick fix consider turning on a fan.
Creating a Bedtime Routine
It can help to have a bedtime ritual that signals to your body to unwind, relax and prepare for sleep. Taking a warm shower or bubble bath, having a skincare routine, or listening to some soothing music while reading a book or doing some stretching exercises are a few rituals to consider.
Turn off digital devices about one hour before bedtime. Blue light from smartphones and tablets reduces melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate the sleep/wake cycles.
Healthy Habit Tip: If you can’t seem to switch your mind off for the night, try doing a “brain dump” and journaling about everything that is on your mind. Get it down on paper and then let it go (at least for the night).
Foods That Support A Restful Night’s Sleep
There is some good news about which foods can help support a restful slumber. But first let’s take a look at which foods may actually disrupt our quality of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), certain foods such as white bread, refined pastas and sugar-laden baked goods can reduce serotonin levels. Choosing whole grains in place of refined carbs can help support a better night’s sleep. The build up of serotonin in the brain during periods of wakefulness can contribute to the onset of sleep later in the day. If serotonin levels in our brain are disturbed, then we may experience difficulty falling asleep. There are foods that contain melatonin, such as almonds and walnuts. Foods that are high in lean protein contain the amino acid tryptophan and may also help to increase the production of serotonin, supporting a more restful night’s sleep.
There are various herbal teas to explore that help promote sleep. A few of these are chamomile, lavender, passion flower, lemon balm tea, valerian. These teas have a mild sedative effect that is great for inducing sleep. Did you know that after you fall asleep, these herbal teas can help to improve sleep quality so that you wake up refreshed, rested and rejuvenated?
Healthy Habit Tip: If you decide you want to take advantage of the herbal tea and the sleep-inducing benefits, you may want to drink herbal tea about 45 minutes before going to bed. This allows your body plenty of time to metabolize the chemical compounds that make the herbal tea an effective sleep aid.
Research shows that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night for optimal health. Consistency is key to your circadian rhythm. Going to bed at the same time every night, and getting up at the same time each morning, including weekends, reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Exercise can alleviate sleep related problems and help us get an adequate amount of rest. There are numerous studies that have shown that exercise improves sleep quality. Afterall, better sleep means more energy and a healthier YOU!
Healthy Habit Tip: While alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, within just a few hours, the alcohol effects can wear away, disrupting the quality of sleep. Consider consuming less alcohol. Perhaps a cup of herbal tea for a nightcap instead of the alcohol?