Updated: Feb 20
The Secret to living a great life... starting with Sleep
Introduction: Getting Free from Insomnia
More than 62% of adults worldwide report that they don’t sleep well when they go to bed.
A good night's sleep is essential for both physical and mental wellbeing. Without it, our bodies struggle to function properly and our minds can become clouded with fatigue.
However, for many people in the modern world, getting enough rest can be a challenge.
Whether or not you are struggling with this right now, there will come a time when you fall into a rut of poor sleep and you need a guardian angel to pull you out of it.
So here I am... just for you.
The good news is that there are many simple changes you can make to improve the quality of your night's kip.
In this article, we present healthy sleep habits anyone can use to achieve more restful, rejuvenating sleep and live life with more energy and vitality.
10 Simple Tools For A Good Night's Sleep
1) Consistent Sleep Patterns
Establishing a regular sleep schedule might be one of the most important sleeping habits you can adopt when it comes to consistently getting a good night's rest.
Many of us stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights, usually resulting in a 'well-earned' lay-in from the busy week we've just crushed.
Unfortunately, healthy and consistent sleep patterns require us to abide by the same bedtime and waketime... even on weekends.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day optimises our circadian rhythm and regulates our body's natural sleep-wake cycle. This means falling asleep is easier because the timed-melatonin release will make promote tiredness, and you'll feel more alert when it's time to wake up because the brain and body understand that it's the start of your day.
Try to stick to your schedule as much as possible and make sure to get straight back to it if you miss a day.
2) Sleep Haven
The environment in which you sleep greatly impacts the quality of your rest.
Even the smallest of noises or thin streaks of light trickling in through the window can disrupt our sleep more than we'd like to know.
To ensure you can easily nod off and stay asleep throughout the night, ensure your room is kept cool, dark, and quiet.
Consider using heavy curtains or an eye mask to block out any light, and use ear plugs if there is any noise that you can't control. Invest in a suitable mattress and pillows to ensure you are as comfortable as possible.
For a deeper dive into mastering your sleep environment, check out Nick Littlehales' book 'Sleep', which gives a detailed plan on optimal sleeping conditions and helps you create your own perfect bedroom environment.
3) Avoid Stimulants Before Bedtime
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can all interfere with your sleep quality.
Ideally, it is best to keep a large gap between the consumption of these things and the time you want to sleep. Try to steer clear of these stimulants at least a few hours before bedtime.
You will likely find that they cause you trouble falling asleep and lead to a lot of night wake. Also, you tend to wake up feeling tired and all too aware that you didn't get enough sleep.
Most importantly, avoid drinking alcohol too close to sleep, as this takes a huge hit on your sleep quality and doesn't allow the body to get into the deep sleep it needs for proper growth and repair.
4) Fall asleep relaxed
"The best bed one can sleep on is peace"
This couldn't be more true, which is why relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, are excellent at preparing you for sleep because they calm the body and mind.
Having a warm bath or shower an hour or two before bed also promotes relaxation and cools our core temperature down; the perfect remedy to fall asleep faster.
Some people find calming music or peaceful background noises can promote a sense of calmness in the evening. Here's a great video of soft music.
Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you, and make relaxation a part of your bedtime routine.
Additionally, avoid vigorous exercise or cold water immersion too close to bedtime as these both raise our core temperature, making it much more difficult to fall asleep and our sleep quality takes a hit as a result.
5) Limit Bright Light In The Evening
What if I told you that most of your sleep problems come from staying up watching tv and scrolling through social media before going to bed?
The blue light emitted by electronic devices - such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops -suppresses the production of melatonin; a naturally occurring hormone that promotes tiredness in the evening.
To avoid this, limit your exposure to screens for a few hours before bedtime and consider using a blue light-blocking app on your devices. Other effective tools are replacing bright, overhead lights with dim, red ones, and using blue-light-blocking glasses in the evening.
6) Regular Exercise
Just like nearly all things health-related, working out and moving will help make things better.
Regular exercise improves the quality of your rest, as it gives a clear distinction between work and rest to the body, and leaves you more fatigue and ready for bed in the evening.
Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, and if you struggle to get a workout in for whatever reason, a short walk or dance does the job.
As mentioned, be sure to avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it can have major repercussions on your sleep quality.
7) Limit Naps
While a quick nap can be tempting when you're feeling drowsy during the day, napping can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
A short nap can definitely revitalise your energy and mood, but it shouldn't be used as a replacement for sleep debt.
If you need a quick pick-me-up, try to limit your nap to 20-30 minutes (less than a sleep cycle), and avoid long daytime naps close to the evening as this will make it hard to fall asleep faster and your ability to stay asleep is jeopardised.
Get this right to consistently achieve a good night's rest.
Getting sufficient daylight is crucial for ensuring high sleep quality.
Exposure to natural light during the day helps keep our circadian rhythm in sync, making it easier to nod off at night and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
You should also try to view the sun within the first hour of waking up and watch the sunset when possible. This gives clear information to the brain for optimal sleep hormone release at the correct times of the day.
A lack of daylight can disrupt the circadian rhythm, leading to sleep problems such as insomnia, daytime fatigue, and a range of other sleep disorders.
9) Be Patient
It's important to be patient as you work to improve your sleep.
Although easier said than done, not putting too much pressure on yourself each night and slowly getting a good rhythm going will do you the world of good when you want to sleep better.
It may take a few weeks to notice a difference, and it's important not to get discouraged if you don't see immediate results.
Stick with your new sleep habits, be consistent, create a sleep diary, and you'll soon say goodbye to restless nights and anxiety before going to bed.
Want to sleep better?
10) Sleep medicine
I wanted to include this tool at the end as a last resort.
If you have severe insomnia, or still have trouble sleeping after trying everything you can, consider using a sleep aid.
There are many over-the-counter medications and prescription sleep aids available, but it's important to talk to your doctor before using any of these products. They will help you determine what might be causing your sleep difficulties and recommend the best course of action based on lifestyle, age, and medical history.
I would recommend doing everything possible to improve your sleep before turning to medical usage.
Conclusion: It all starts with Sleep
In conclusion, getting enough quality sleep is essential for our physical and mental well-being.
By following these 10 good sleep habits and tips, you can improve the quality of your sleep and achieve more restful and rejuvenating sleep.
From establishing a regular sleeping schedule to avoiding stimulants before bedtime, there are many simple changes you can make to achieve better sleep.
So, why not start tonight and see the positive impact you can make on your life when you sleep better at night?
Why is sleep important?
Sleep is important for overall health and well-being as it helps the body to restore, repair, and recharge. Adequate sleep plays a vital role in physical and mental restoration, regulating mood, and improving cognitive functions such as memory and concentration.
A lack of sleep can lead to various health problems and negatively impact daily life. It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to maintain good health.
Insomnia symptoms include:
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Waking up frequently during the night
Waking up too early
Feeling tired upon waking
Low daytime energy
Having trouble concentrating or feeling irritable during the day
These symptoms can persist for a short period (known as short-term insomnia) or be a chronic issue, affecting daily life and overall well-being. If you're experiencing symptoms of this, whether you feel it is long or short-term insomnia, it can be useful to speak to a healthcare provider to find an underlying health condition and the right actions to take.
Insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, medical conditions, medications, substance use, and irregular sleep patterns.
Poor hygiene around sleep, such as exposure to screens before bedtime, can also contribute to insomnia. A change in environment or routine, such as travel, shift work, or jet lag can also trigger insomnia.
Identifying and addressing the underlying cause of insomnia can help manage symptoms and improve sleep quality.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterised by temporary pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during the night. These pauses can last from a few seconds to a minute and occur repeatedly throughout the night.
Sleep apnoea symptoms?
Common symptoms include loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness, and irritability.
Sleep apnea can not only affect sleep, but can also lead to serious health problems - such as diabetes and heart disease - if left untreated, so it's important to seek medical evaluation and treatment.
Fall asleep lie awake?
If you're lying awake at night, there are a few things you can do to help you fall asleep:
Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation
Read a book or listen to soothing music
Write down your thoughts
Try some yoga or stretching to calm the mind
Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed
How many hours of sleep do adults need?
Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. However, individual needs vary and some people may require more or less to feel rested. To determine your optimal amount of rest, pay attention to how you feel after different amounts of sleep and make adjustments accordingly. Quality of sleep is also important, so aim for consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, and create a sleep-conducive environment.
How many hours of sleep do I need?
The amount of sleep an individual needs varies, but most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. It's important to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel after a night's rest to determine the right amount of for you.
Good sleep hygiene tips?
Good hygiene for sleeping includes creating a relaxing bedtime routine, keeping a consistent sleeping schedule, creating a sleep-conducive environment, avoiding screens before bedtime, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and engaging in physical activity during the day.
These habits can help you get a better night's rest and improve the overall quality of your rest.
Sleep anxiety symptoms?
Sleep anxiety symptoms include:
Excessive worry about sleep
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
These symptoms can lead to insomnia and interfere with daily functioning.
Blue light effects on sleep?
Exposure to blue light in the evening can suppress melatonin production - a hormone that promotes tiredness and regulates our sleep pattern - which makes it harder to fall asleep and reduces the quality of our rest.
To minimize the effects of blue light, it's important to limit screen time before bedtime and use blue light-blocking technologies.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation symptoms include fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, decreased motivation, and increased appetite.
In severe cases, sleep deprivation can lead to memory problems, hallucinations, and impaired judgment.
If you're experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation, it's important to make changes to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.
REM sleep meaning?
REM sleep stands for Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is a stage of sleep characterized by vivid dreams, increased brain activity, and eye movements.
REM sleep is a crucial stage of sleep that helps with memory consolidation, mood regulation, and learning. It typically makes up 20-25% of a person's total sleep time, occurring in short bursts throughout the night.
How much sleep do adults need?
The average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally.