A good night’s sleep is just as important as a healthy meal and regular exercise. Research has shown lack of sleep can lead to many physical and mental problems, including, weight gain, mood swings and deteriorated brain function.
The quality and quantity of sleep are important for a healthy lifestyle. Over the last decade, the two have shown a major decline. Here are some ways you can optimize your sleep cycle and sleep better:
Increasing bright light exposure during the day
The human body has a natural clock known as your circadian rhythm. It is a process that regulates sleep-wake cycles and repeats roughly after 24 hours.
Exposure to natural sunlight during the day helps in regulating the circadian rhythm and improving nighttime sleep quality.
According to a study, bright light exposure reduced the time to fall asleep by 83% in people with insomnia. Another similar study found that two hours of sunlight increased sleep duration by 2 hours and also improved sleep efficiency by 80%.
Don’t consume caffeine in the evening
Caffeine enhances focus, energy and performance by triggering your system to become more active. However, if consumed late in the day, it may prevent your body from relaxing at night.
A study showed a steep decline in the quality of sleep in people who consumed caffeine around 6 hours before bed. Therefore, drinking coffee or other caffeinated drink after 3-4 p.m. is not recommended.
Reduce long day time naps
While you can take power naps during the day, long naps can mess up your sleep cycle. It confuses your circadian rhythm leading to difficulty in falling asleep. Further, instead of making you feel less tired, they can actually pile up on your fatigue, making you feel lethargic and weary.
According to a study, the participants who took a nap ended up feeling sleepier during the day. Hence, shorter power naps are suggested for an improved body function. A research observed that napping for 30 minutes or less enhanced brain function.
Do not use electronic devices before going to bed
Exposure to light at night might trick your brain into thinking it’s still day time, leading to an affected circadian rhythm and reduced melatonin production.
Watching a bright screen before going to bed can lead to cognitive stimulation, increasing brain’s electrical activity, and giving the impression that you’re not tired.
The brain creates a hormone, melatonin, that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to light before bed effects the hormone’s production, making your body feel like its not time to sleep – as your brain interprets it as day time.
The blue light – emitted by smartphones/tablets etc. – can be reduced at night time using glasses that block the particular wavelength, or changing your phone to night mode.
Take Melatonin supplements
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain, telling it when its time to relax and sleep. Melatonin supplements can help achieve a better sleep quality and prove to be a quick way to fall asleep.
According to a study, 2 milligrams of the hormone before bed improved sleep quality and helped people fall asleep faster. It helps in adjusting to new time zones and improving your circadian rhythm.