How to get a better quality night's sleep

There are a lot of important aspects to a healthy lifestyle. Regular movement, for starters. Consuming plenty of water throughout the day for adequate hydration. Prioritizing your mental health up there with your physical, as well. But the cherry on top of the wellness sundae? Good sleep. Sleep is important for all of your body’s processes and it helps us repair the system to handle another day. According to the CDC, a lack of sleep is actually considered a public health problem. Even a single night of sleep deprivation can make an impact, increasing levels of ghrelin which increase feelings of hunger.

People who skip on sleep are much more likely to be stressed than a person that’s had a full night’s rest, and a lack of sleep can also impact your sex life. For guys, one University of Chicago study found that men who slept less than five hours nightly had lower T levels than those who get at least seven. Typically, experts recommend we get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and it’s important to note that “good” sleep is bigger than just spending a certain amount of time between the sheets. Quality, or deep, sleep happens when your brain is in its most relaxed state.

1. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule

Your rise time actually sets your bedtime, according to Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, Saatva sleep consultant, pediatric sleep psychologist, and author of Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach: The Bedtime Doctor’s 5-Step Guide, Ages 3-10, because your brain keeps track of when you get up and then assumes that you will want to go back to sleep about 16 to 17 hours later. This is why “sleeping in” can actually make it harder to fall asleep when you’d like to the next night.

Even if you lose some sleep one night, try to get up every morning at the same time,” advises Schneeberg. “If you rise every day at about the same time (even on weekends), your body will know when to release melatonin and cortisol, the hormones in your body that control how sleepy and how awake you feel at different times of the day.

2. Avoid blue light before bed

The most common and abundant source of “blue light” is the sun. Time in the sun is important, since sunlight is a great natural source of vitamin D. However, because our bodies have evolved to sleep at night and remain alert during the day, this blue light inhibits melatonin production and signals our system to stay awake, says Martha Lewis, a certified sleep consultant and founder/CEO of the Complete Sleep Solution.

Unfortunately, light bulbs and screens emit blue light, too. So dimming the lights and, more importantly, turning off your devices an hour before bedtime is the key to  avoiding blue light before bed so you can fall asleep easily,” she adds.

3. Add exercise to your daily routine

Try to exercise daily for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Not only is this a great endorphin boost and excellent for your cardiovascular system, but exercise also decreases stress and results in some physical fatigue that often increases sleepiness at bedtime, adds Schneeberg, who advises to complete all exercise at least 3 hours before bed.

4. Play hot and cold

When we fall asleep, our body temperature drops and triggers melatonin production. Melatonin, in turn, has a hypothermic effect itself, so it’s a kind of bidirectional influence. To promote sleep and improve its quality, Alex Savy — a Certified Sleep Science Coach and the Founder of SleepingOcean, suggests trying to take a hot shower before bed and then get under cool sheets (or let your AC cool down the room). “This will not only feel good but also facilitate heat loss, thereby inducing sleep,” he adds.

Try to take a hot shower before bed and then get under cool sheets

5. Try not to lie awake in the dark in bed when unable to sleep

 If you lie awake in the dark in your bed, you might begin to associate your bed with wakefulness, worry and frustration.Instead, at bedtime or during the night if you cannot fall asleep within a few minutes, choose a quiet, relaxing and distracting activity to use until you do feel very drowsy,” says Schneeberg. “Lying awake in bed awake in the dark is never a good idea; it’s much better to distract yourself with something you enjoy until drowsiness really takes over again.

6. Avoid alcohol when possible

For many, drinking alcohol is one way people cope with stressful times. And while it may feel helpful in the short term, it ultimately disrupts your REM cycle. “Poor REM sleep is going to leave you the next day less resilient to stress, more reactive, larger stress response, more anxious, brain fog, and poor concentration,” says Jason Piper, founder of Build Better Sleep and a certified sleep science coach. “Pretty much everything opposite of what you want and are trying to find relief from with drinking. That creates a vicious negative feedback loop.

7. Cultivate your purpose

A 2017 study showed that those who feel that their life has meaning generally have better sleep and are less likely to develop sleep-related disorders. “Even though the study was conducted on older adults, researchers believe that the results could be scaled on the younger population,” says Savy. “This may work as a drug-free strategy to battle insomnia.”

The wellness lifestyle takes concrete form in the synergy between three complementary elements that determine our energy level: mental approach, at the base of the Pyramid, nutrition and movement on the above. Caring for social and emotional relationships, cultivating constructive passions and hobbies, being positive and motivated in facing daily challenges is the necessary prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle.

To maintain a correct basal metabolism that guarantees the cell turnover necessary for the health of the organism, it is necessary to keep well hydrated, to consume every day at least four portions of fruit and vegetables, and to counterbalance the consumption of animal and vegetable proteins with that of carbohydrates. Depending on lifestyle, the overall calorie intake, quantity and quality of nutrients ingested should then be adjusted.

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