Good sleep is essential for physical health and overall wellness. It plays as an important role in weight loss as diet and exercise—and without good sleep, most people gain weight. Sleep deprivation also negatively impacts hormones, cognitive function and athletic performance.
Your daily habits and behaviors can promote quality sleep or lead to sleep deprivation. Stress, hectic work schedules and illness can also interfere with sleep quality. While some factors may be out of your control, there are steps you can take to get a good night’s sleep.
Adopt a Consistent Schedule
Your body’s circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, functions on a cycle aligned with sunrise and sunset. Irregular sleep patterns disrupt this cycle while consistency reinforces the sleep-wake cycle and makes it function optimally. Strive to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, including weekends and vacations. If you need to deviate, try to keep it within an hour of your normal bedtime.
Set the Stage
Make your bedroom a restful environment ideal for slumber. A cool, dark room is the perfect setting for a good night’s sleep—consider room-darkening curtains or shades and keep light to a minimum. Invest in comfortable bedding designed to induce rest. Get a fan or an air purifying humidifier to optimize air quality. Research shows that external noise such as traffic interferes with healthy sleep. Minimize sound with a noise cancelling machine or ear plugs.
Interesting Fact: Body temperature is a critical factor in the maintenance of sleep. You will awaken when your body gets above a certain temperature. That is why sleep is more fitful during hot summer nights. Keeping room temperature to 72 deg is optimal during the summer. Aside from controlling room temperature, there are devices that circulate cooler air underneath your blankets. These include the Chilipad and BedJet).
Create a Bedtime Routine
Establish a bedtime routine that includes calming activities like reading, taking a bath, listening to music or meditation. Follow the routine as consistently as possible to signal your body that it’s time to relax each night. Reduce blue light exposure from cellphones, tablet, computers and televisions at least an hour before going to sleep. The blue light these electronics emit keeps your brain alert and hampers the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Cultivate a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition and regular exercise. Physical activity promotes healthy sleep and increases duration. It also reduces stress, which often interferes with sleep and weight loss, and wears your body out so you feel tired.
Watch When You Eat
Avoid caffeine late in the day—many experts suggest ditching it before 2 pm. Don’t eat large meals within two hours of going to sleep. If you need a snack, eat something light and healthy. It’s also helpful to decrease fluid intake close to bedtime and use the restroom right before bed to decrease the chances of waking up during the night.
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