Therapists Spill: 7 Simple Tips to Get Quality Sleep

May 5, 2020 10 min read

Sleeping problems are not new to our generation. There are many different factors that restrict us from a good night’s sleep. This can vary from work stress to family responsibilities to even to unexpected challenges like illness. 

Fig 1. Lack of sleep can lead to various other psychological problems.

While you don’t have much role in controlling these factors, there are many habits that you can adopt to help us sleep better. Having good sleep hygiene can ensure quality sleep [1] ✅ Trusted Source Sateia, M. J. (2014). International classification of sleep disorders. Chest, 146(5), 1387-1394. Open Reference .

The following simple tips can help you cultivate some good sleeping habits and maintain great sleep hygiene.

Keep your bedroom quiet and comfortable

Your bedroom and its environment have a major role in your sleep cycle. A study conducted on the bedrooms of women reveals that nearly 50% of them had improved sleep quality when the noise and lights were diminished [2] ✅ Trusted Source Fietze, I., Barthe, C., Hölzl, M., Glos, M., Zimmermann, S., Bauer-Diefenbach, R., & Penzel, T. (2016). The effect of room acoustics on the sleep quality of healthy sleepers. Noise & health, 18(84), 240. Open Reference

The bedroom environment also includes temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangements. The goal is to create a room that is ideal for sleeping. It often refers to a cool, dark, and quiet place. 

Prolonged use of light-emitting screens before you are sleeping is both harmful to your vision and sleep. Try avoiding using such devices at least an hour before you hit your bed.

Follow a Sleep Schedule

Fig 2. The daily amount of sleep (including naps) required by various age groups.

Give yourself not more than eight hours a day for your sleep. Research suggests that at least 7-9 hours a day is the recommended sleep time for a healthy adult [3] ✅ Trusted Source National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2014). Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency: How Much Sleep Is Enough. Open Reference .

However, if you are having trouble sleeping even after 20 minutes in bed, get out of your bedroom and do something that relaxes you. You can do things like reading, listening to music, or even cooking. You can head straight back to bed when you are tired and repeat the same if needed.

Order your daily routine in such a way that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. During weekends it is advised to try and limit the difference in your sleeping schedule to not more than an hour. Following a sharp routine will encourage your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Taking a long day-time nap can also affect your night’s sleep. If you decide to take a nap during the daylight, make sure that you limit it to not more than 30 minutes.

If you are working at night or doing a night shift you can make up your sleep debt by taking a nap during the day before the work.

Eat right; Sleep tight

Going to bed with a full filled tummy or a hungry tummy can lead to disturbances in sleep. It is always better to avoid heavy and large meals before bedtime. 

You should also be cautious about nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine. The stimulating effects, especially that of nicotine and caffeine can take hours to wear off and create sleeplessness. Though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it also can disrupt sleep later at night.

There are many sleep-promoting foods that you can have before going to bed. Milk, for example, is one such drink that will help you sleep better. It contains tryptophan which is a sleep-inducing substance. Other food items that will help you get better sleep are tuna, oats, avocado. Potatoes, buckwheat, and bananas.

Restrict nicotine and alcohol

A smoke before bed sounds relaxing, but it can put a stimulant into your bloodstream. Nicotine and caffeine have similar effects on one’s body. Both of these can keep you awake during the night. It is advised to avoid this before bedtime or if you wake up in the middle of your sleep.

Just as nicotine, alcohol consumption can also negatively affect your sleep and hormones. It is known to be responsible for increasing the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and several other disruptions in sleeping patterns.

Night-time melatonin production, which plays a key role in our body’s circadian rhythm also gets altered by the use of alcohol. The natural night time elevation in human growth hormones are also decreased due to alcohol consumption at night. 

Take a relaxing bath or shower

Another popular way to sleep better is to take a relaxing shower. Researches indicate that a good shower can improve overall sleep quality [4] ✅ Trusted Source Sack, R. L., Auckley, D., Auger, R. R., Carskadon, M. A., Wright Jr, K. P., Vitiello, M. V., & Zhdanova, I. V. (2007). Circadian rhythm sleep disorders: part I, basic principles, shift work and jet lag disorders. Sleep, 30(11), 1460-1483. Open Reference . It can be very useful for older adults to sleep much faster than they normally do.

A hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime is ideal to improve and enhance your sleep quality and help people attain deep sleep. You don’t get enough time for that, simply washing your feet in hot water can be helpful in keeping your relaxed for the night.

Fig 3. Percent of respondents, by age bracket who said they agreed with the statement “I don’t sleep as well as I used to because I am connected to technology all the time” at a level of 8, 9, or 10 with 10 points meaning it describes them exactly.

Decrease exposure to blue light at night

Blue lights have the ability to regulate our circadian rhythms. Sunlight is the major source of blue light. But, when the LED-based devices that we use start to emit these blue lights, it creates a false sense in our brain to not fall asleep [5] ✅ Trusted Source Gibbs, N. (2012). Your life is fully mobile. Time Magazine, 27. Open Reference .

Snuggling up with a digital tablet or even a smartphone during bedtime can quickly trigger many sleep disorders. Even watching television late at night can cause these issues.

Work-out wisely

Sleep can be affected by the timing and intensity of workouts. It seems to play a key role in our sleep patterns also. If you are that person who after a workout or cardio feels very energized or more alert, then it is better that you don’t exercise in the evening. Regular exercises during the early morning are found to relieve insomnia according to a study [6] ✅ Trusted Source Prinz, P. N., Vitiello, M. V., Raskind, M. A., & Thorpy, M. J. (1990). Sleep disorders and aging. New England Journal of Medicine, 323(8), 520-526. Open Reference .

Cite this article as: Winona Silverman, "Therapists Spill: 7 Simple Tips to Get Quality Sleep," in Guide My Mind, May 5, 2020, https://guidemymind.com/2020/05/therapists-spill-7-simple-tips-to-get-quality-sleep/.
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