Whether you’re anxious about the Coronavirus pandemic, or you naturally find it difficult to get some shuteye, a lack of sleep can be both frustrating and debilitating. But you don’t have to live your life like this. Consistent quality sleep is possible!
The Need for Better Quality Sleep
There are numerous underlying health conditions and factors that negatively impact the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. These include stress, mental disorders (like bipolar and anxiety), restless leg syndrome, heartburn, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and more.
Other people don’t get adequate sleep by choice. (Something that’s predominant in western society.)
Americans often take pride in their lack of sleep. They wear it around like a badge of honor – a reflection of their hard work and self-importance. But in reality, a lack of sleep is a serious health problem that strips you of important benefits like:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower stress
- Less inflammation of key body systems
- Improved memory
- Weight loss
- Lower risk of depression
- Strengthened immune system
- Injury recovery
4 Hacks for Improved Sleep Quality
If you have an underlying health condition that’s negatively impacting your sleep quality, it’s important that you see a doctor. But if you suspect it’s related to something simple like lifestyle habits and choices, the following tips may prove helpful:
- Lay Off the Stimulants and Depressants
There’s nothing wrong with a couple cups of coffee in the morning, but you have to lay off stimulants in the afternoon and evening hours. Whether it’s a late-afternoon coffee or a soda with dinner, stimulating your nervous system late in the day – within six to eight hours of bed – prevents your body from naturally relaxing.
The same goes for depressants – like alcohol. While a glass of wine or cocktail may make you sleepy, don’t let this trick you into thinking you’re doing your body a favor. It actually alters nighttime melatonin production and amplifies the symptoms of sleep apnea (like snoring and disrupted sleep patterns). It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. But if you’d like to have a drink, keep it to one (and consume it at least two hours prior to hitting the hay).
- Stimulate the Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body’s autonomic nervous system (which regulates many of your body’s processes). It’s one of the single-most important nerves in the entire body and impacts almost every major organ system. It also plays a role in modulating mood, relaxation, and focus.
If you’re finding it difficult to fall asleep, you may want to try vagus nerve stimulation. While there are a variety of ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, products like these Xen headphones by Neuvana are easy to use and highly effective. (You can even use them to listen to peaceful music as you doze off to sleep.)
- Exercise More
Want to sleep better at night? Try wearing yourself out with physical exercise during the day.
People who exercise on a regular basis sleep better at night and feel less drowsy during the day. And the more vigorous the exercise, the more powerful the benefits. (However, even light exercise – like a walk around the block – can improve your ability to fall asleep.)
- Optimize Your Bedroom Environment
Your bedroom’s design isn’t just a matter of style. Your sleep environment has a direct impact on your sleep quality. Here are a few suggestions to consider:
- Keep your bedroom’s ambient temperature as cool as possible and use covers to stay warm. (Somewhere around 70 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a comfortable temperature for most people.)
- Block out as much outside noise as possible. Use a white noise machine if necessary.
- Make your bedroom dark by utilizing blackout curtains on windows. It’s also best to avoid using alarm clocks and other electronic devices that emit light.
- Choose a supportive mattress that’s right for your body and sleep positions.
- Eliminate all blue light exposure in the bedroom. This means no TV or smartphone use in bed.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep isn’t something you can continually shove the back burner. If you keep operating on three, four, or five hours of sleep every night, you’re eventually going to experience some significant side effects – the least of which is drowsiness.
Make sleep a priority and maximize your health and well-being.