Sleep Your Way to a Longer Healthier Life: 8 Tips to Get Better Sleep Tonight!

So are you ready to get more sleep? That’s good to know! Getting insufficient sleep can negatively impact your health and overall wellbeing and prevent you from living your best life. In fact, it can prevent you from living a long life! There are numerous studies showing that consistent lack of sleep can even lead to an early death! Read More

Sleep Better, Feel Better

So are you ready to get more sleep?  That’s good to know!

Getting insufficient sleep can negatively impact your health and overall wellbeing and prevent you from living your best life.

In fact, it can prevent you from living a long life!

There are numerous studies showing that consistent lack of sleep can even lead to an early death!

According to a Harvard Medical School study, people who sleep for less than five hours a night are twice as likely to develop dementia and twice as likely to die in comparison with those who constantly have six or more hours of sleep.

In another study involving almost 8,000 participants in four European countries, it was found that people 50 years and older who regularly sleep for six hours or less have a 30% increase in dementia risk!

The problem that most people have, and probably yours too, is that it can be really difficult to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep.

To help you in this area of your health, I came up with a list of tips to help you fall asleep quicker which ultimately means more sleep hours for you.  They can also enhance the quality of your sleep so you wake up each day feeling refreshed and invigorated.

Tip #1: Follow a routine before bed.

It is vital to follow a routine before bed in order to get the best night’s sleep possible. This simply means hitting the sack and waking up at the same time every day, doing relaxation exercises, and winding down for at least 30 minutes before sleep.

Tip #2: Keep a cool and comfortable environment in your bedroom.

To get a good night’s sleep, you need to keep your bedroom cool and comfortable. For most, a room temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is most conducive for sleep. 

Block out noise.  Keep your bedroom quiet. Turn on a fan or a pink noise recording to block out loud neighbors and car alarms You may have heard of white noise, though pink noise has a more even distribution of sound frequencies and is more calming to the ears compared to white noise. The way in which pink noise shifts between high and low frequencies mimics the sounds of nature, like the sound of waves lapping on the shore or a gentle rain. White noise, conversely, is more uniform in its sound and stays at a constant level.

Keep your bedroom dark! Darkness prepares the brain for sleep.  Hang heavy curtains in your bedroom or wear a sleep mask. Ideally you don’t want to be able to see your hand in front of you when you first turn off the lights. 

If sleeping in total darkness is not an option, I recommend cutting out the overhead lights lamps in the evening. Also, choose bulbs with a warm white or lower Kelvin temperature to signal that it’s no longer daylight.  Red light bulbs are also very effective. Red light promotes an increase in melatonin secretion, leading to improved sleep quality. A good night’s rest, in turn, results in enhanced cognitive function and overall mental well-being.

For great additional information about red lights and some options, check out Bon Charge

Tip #3: Limit screen time before sleep.

You should limit screen time before sleep because the blue light that the screen emits interferes with the body’s natural production of melatonin.  This  hormone helps regulate our sleep-wake cycles. Being exposed to too much blue light at night can disrupt the body’s natural sleep rhythm and may cause sleep disturbances. There are settings on cell phones and computers to automatically adjust the screen brightness at sunset. You can also invest in blue light blocking glasses, you may check different styles here.

Tip #4: Avoid caffeine and alcohol before sleep.

It’s best to avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine before sleep. Some think alcohol is relaxing, and while it does have a depressive affect and can make you feel drowsy, it also disrupts your sleep later in the night. You won’t sleep as deep after drinking alcohol and wake up with a long groggy day ahead. Caffeinated beverages make it difficult to fall asleep and can also cause you to wake up feeling groggy. Research shows it’s best to not have caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime to avoid sleep disruptions, so lunch might be a great time to have that last coffee or tea! 

Tip #5: Get up and move around during the day.

It’s important to get up and move around during the day in order to promote sleep at night. A brisk walk around your neighborhood or some light stretches will help. Being active during the day will help you feel tired when it’s time to go to bed. It’s best to stop your exercise at least 90 minutes before your bedtime so plan some light stretches if it gets too late. Along with many other benefits, an active lifestyle enhances sleep. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.

Tip # 6: Eat light.

Avoid eating foods high in calories or too heavy in spices late in the day. The best time to eat is at least 3 hours before your bedtime so you have plenty of time to properly digest your meal before getting to sleep! If you want a snack, drink water first! Many times we mistake hunger for thirst.  You’ll be doing your health a huge favor.   You can read more about the benefits of water here  and if you haven’t downloaded my e-book on the simple tricks on how you can drink more water, you may want to download it by clicking here.

Tip # 7: Practice deep breathing exercises or stretches at night.

In the evening, engage in some deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.  

Deep breathing exercises is an effective way to promote relaxation and reduce stress. It is done while you are sitting or lying down with your eyes closed.  Here is an example of a deep breathing exercise: Inhale while counting to 4 then hold for 4 then exhale counting to 6.  

Inhaling is done slowly and deeply through the nose while exhaling is done slowly through the mouth. 

Progressive muscle relaxation is also done while sitting or lying down.  You tense and relax your muscle groups, going from one group to the next, starting with the muscles in your feet and working upwards. This is all done while focusing on your breath as you inhale and exhale.

These are two popular methods for hastening sleep. They also help to manage stress during the day and visualize pleasant images at bedtime.

Tip # 8 End the day on a positive note.

Regardless of how your day turned out to be, there is always something to be grateful for.  Reflect on your day and find a thing or two that gave you joy, or made you feel thankful.  You may write these things down in a small notebook and keep it on your nightstand for easy retrieval the next night.

You may also listen to an audiobook or to soothing music that will put you in the mood for sleep.

Whatever you do, never give in to the temptation of watching TV or watching the news at bedtime. The news and media in general can conjure up negative images in your brain and give you undue anxiety which may affect your ability to sleep and to sleep soundly.

There you have it, eight of my tips for more quality sleep.

Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep is crucial to keeping your mind and body healthy while sleep deprivation is a real hazard and  endangers your health and overall quality of life.

So if you’re really serious about getting more quality sleep, there’s no better time than today to start incorporating these tips into your daily habits.

Since sleep issues can have many different causes, you may also find it helpful to keep a journal where you can record your habits.  This will enable you to spot patterns and help you talk with your doctor if you need to explore medical reasons.

Always Make Sleep a Priority!

If you feel you need more help, my personalised coaching program will guide you through improving your sleep health. Get your free coaching session today and start sleeping better tonight!

DrKapavik

Sleep Deprivation Risks: Know the Hidden Dangers

Lack of sleep may cause your health irreversible damage. And the statistics speak for themselves! It turns out that sleep deprivation can harm your mental and physical health and that of those around you. Read More

Lack of sleep may cause your health irreversible damage.  And the statistics speak for themselves! It turns out that sleep deprivation can harm your mental and physical health and that of those around you.

You may be guilty of cutting back on your sleep for daily demands, especially work.

And it’s totally understandable.  

But maybe if you knew just how detrimental sleep deprivation really is, you would probably find some ways to improve your sleeping habits and ensure you’re getting the right amount of quality sleep every night.

Take a look at the effects of sleep deprivation below.

Increased pain sensitivity

UC Berkeley did a study on a group of healthy undergraduates who did not suffer from sleep or pain disorders. First, they made them sleep the whole night then, they  deprived them of sleep.

In both instances, the scientist gave them pain in the leg while recording their brain activity.

The study found that the participants felt pain sooner when they were deprived of sleep than when they had enough sleep.  This was due to the decreased activity in the nucleus accumbens, which plays a vital function in pain management and is an effective source of analgesia—the inability to feel pain.  

Weakened immune system

If areas in the body need to heal, the brain can trigger the release of hormones like growth hormone, which encourage tissue growth to repair blood vessels. This not only speeds up the healing of wounds but also helps to recover strained or damaged muscles.

In addition, four hours of sleep for one night reduces natural killer cell activity to an average of 72%. These cells are critical in the body’s immune response, acting as the first line of defense against cancer cells, bacteria, and other potential dangers. 

Sleep helps you fight against sickness while a single night of poor sleep can impair your natural killer cells’ activity by as much as 70 percent!

A 2009 study states that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are 3x more likely to develop a cold than those who sleep 8 hours or more. In another study, findings state that women sleeping 5 hours or less a night have a 70% chance of developing pneumonia.

Hair loss

Your hair goes through a growth cycle between the anagen (growth phase), catagen (the transition phase), and the telogen (resting phase). 

The active phase is when the cells in the root of your hair divide the fastest, forming more new hair. Next is the transition phase, where hair follicles shrink, and hair growth slows. Lastly, the resting phase is when the hair does not grow but stays attached to the follicle. These are the hairs that you lose every day, especially when combing! Then the cycle repeats, returning to the active phase.

When the body is stressed due to hormonal imbalance or an illness—all of which may be due to a lack of sleep, you can develop telogen effluvium—also called stress-related hair loss. This condition alters the normal hair cycle where the anagen phase slows down, and a high percentage of your hairs enter the telogen phase.

So instead of having 50-100 hair strands entering the telogen phase daily—the average number that is shed every day—you have thousands or more. Around 30 percent of hair follicles enter the telogen phase, causing massive hair shedding! 

You can recover in 6-12 months; however, chronic telogen effluvium can last up to 7 years.

Memory impairment

Lack of sleep causes alterations in brain cells that disrupt communication between other brain cells. 

Sleep is essential for memory formation and recall. And this is because the brain waves are responsible for storing memories produced during sleep. These brain waves help transfer memories from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex, which stores long-term memories.

When you’re sleep deprived, memories remain in the hippocampus and they don’t reach the prefrontal cortex. This explains why you’re forgetful and have difficulty remembering terms during exams.

Studies suggest that sleep deprivation can worsen existing diseases and increase your risk of developing health problems like:

Obesity

According to studies, people who sleep less than six hours each night are far more inclined to have a body mass index (BMI) higher than the average, whereas those who sleep eight hours have the lowest BMI.

Poor sleep increases the production of cortisol, or the “stress hormone.” It puts your body into survival mode because it senses danger. And one of the common reactions is to overeat! It’s because your brain thinks you need fuel to fight stress; thus, you may eat more than what your body needs.

High blood pressure

During sleep, blood pressure is about 10% to 20% lower. 

Sleep helps the body in controlling the hormones that regulate stress and metabolism. And sleep deprivation can impair your body’s capacity to regulate stress hormones that keep your blood pressure higher for a longer time.

People who sleep less than six hours have an increased risk of developing hypertension by 37%.

And if you already have high blood pressure, sleep deprivation will worsen your blood pressure.

Constipation

Here’s an unlikely contributor to your constipation.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted a survey of 4,590 persons aged 20 and up from 2005 to 2010 to find the relationship between sleep and constipation.

The study followed guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation. And sleep was split into three categories: short (less than 7 hours), normal (7-8 hours), and long (more than 8 hours).

They concluded that constipation rates were significantly lower among normal sleepers (8.3 percent) than short sleepers ( 12.5 percent) and long sleepers (11.0 percent).

Aside wreaking havoc to your health, lack of sleep may also cause you more immediate problems.

It causes work-related accidents.

Have you heard of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant? The 1986 disaster was caused by a human mistake. It was discovered later that the workers in charge were sleep-deprived!

Insufficient sleep duration causes cognitive deterioration. It impairs cognitive processes, impacting everything from memory to reflexes. This causes you to make more mistakes and poorer decisions. It means you are more likely to miss critical steps in a safety process, forget safety precautions, and misjudge or completely overlook dangerous conditions!

Studies have shown that nurses working the night shift made 32% more mathematical errors than nurses working the day shift. And drivers who sleep for six hours or less are 33% more likely to have an accident on the road than those who sleep for seven or eight hours. 

So if you have never really given serious consideration to sleep.as an important ally  in your quest to achieve your health and personal goals, this is the time to start.

DrKapavik