Sleep. It’s an essential part of our day-to-day routine, with research finding that adults should get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Sleeping is crucial for a healthy life, having a direct impact on everything from our blood pressure to our immune system. When we get a good night’s rest, we’re able to think clearly and remain focused while at work.
Needless to say, figuring out how to sleep better at night naturally can make a huge difference for our overall well-being.
Unfortunately, many people struggle to get the sleep they need. It is estimated that between 50 to 70 million adults in the United States struggle with some type of sleep disorder. Over 18 million adults in that same group suffer from sleep apnea, which keeps them from enjoying a deep, uninterrupted rest. Others deal with insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, and other conditions.
Such problems disrupt sleep patterns and make it far more difficult to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep you need each night. When this happens, you can experience a wide range of negative consequences, from increased moodiness and poor decision-making to unhealthy weight gain and an increased risk of severe problems like heart disease and stroke.
It should come as no surprise, then, that making an active effort to find how to sleep better at night naturally should become a top priority if you wish to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Learning to adjust your sleep habits isn’t always easy, and there are some disorders that require additional medical assistance. However, many individuals who experience trouble sleeping at night could enjoy significant improvements simply by changing a few of their habits. By making these changes to your pre-bedtime routine, you can enjoy a better night’s sleep.
1. Eat Right at Night
Whether or not it’s okay to eat before bedtime has been a matter of debate for years. Some studies suggest that snacking before bed can contribute to unhealthy weight gain, while others argue that this actually contributes to sound weight management.
In reality, for those concerned about how to sleep better at night naturally, what you eat matters much more than whether or not you decide to have a bedtime snack. Many find that eating before bed helps them feel less hungry in the morning, contributing to higher quality sleep at night.
The key is to eat a healthy snack. Foods high in sugar or caffeine lead to an energy burst, which is the last thing you want when trying to go to bed. Instead, snack on healthy foods, like yogurt or fruit. Carbohydrates, in particular, have been found to curb hunger pangs that sometimes cause people to wake up at night. Just make sure you get your carbs from healthy sources like whole-grain oatmeal, rather than junk food!
Other foods to avoid for your late-night snacks: spicy or acidic foods, which can contribute to heartburn; as well as excessive fluids (such as a milkshake), which will increase the likelihood of needing to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
What you eat for dinner could also have an impact on your ability to sleep through the night. Studies have found that eating low glycemic dinners improve sleep and help the body have an improved response when eating breakfast the next morning. Lean meats, sweet potatoes, and green vegetables are solid choices for these meals.
Finally, keep in mind that there are some individuals who should generally avoid eating before bed. If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (with symptoms like heartburn or trouble swallowing), you should likely avoid eating anything in the three hours leading up to bedtime. A late snack will increase the likelihood of stomach acid splashing into the throat, making it harder to sleep.
2. Exercise Regularly
You may not feel like you have the energy for exercise after a long day at work, but if you want to improve the quality of your sleep, few things could be more important than getting in a quality workout.
Those concerned about how to sleep better at night naturally would be well-served by incorporating vigorous exercise into their daily routine. Studies have consistently found that getting quality exercise during the day will contribute to better rest. In fact, those who exercise “vigorously” tend to report the highest quality sleep, while “non-exercisers” are the most likely to experience sleep apnea.
The best time to exercise will vary from person to person. Some individuals get an energy boost after exercising, causing the body to become overstimulated and making it difficult to fall asleep right away. For others, however, late-night exercise is the perfect way to get worn out before bedtime. In general, mid to late afternoon is typically viewed as the best time to exercise, as this will help you feel sleepy a few hours after your workout.
So which exercises are best for falling asleep fast? Aerobic exercises are generally considered the best option for individuals trying to figure out how to sleep better at night naturally. This includes activities such as running, biking, swimming, or even dancing. Participating in these exercises for a longer duration requires more oxygen for the muscles. Not only will this help you sleep better, but it will also improve heart health and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Yoga can also be a great option for pre-bedtime exercise. This low-impact physical activity is easier on the joints and muscles, yet it can prove a great boon for those struggling to find how to sleep better at night naturally. Studies have found that yoga helps relax the body and reduce stress and anxiety — common problems that keep adults from getting a good night’s sleep. The combination of stretches and mediation is perfectly suited to relaxing the mind and body.
For best results, you should try to get half an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. Don’t let yourself fall into the same routine day after day, either. Switching up your workout will provide extra stimulation for the body and help you stay motivated to keep exercising regularly.
3. Pay Attention to the Lighting in Your Bedroom
Our exposure to light has a direct impact on our circadian rhythm — one of the most important elements in regulating sleep. As the National Institute of General Medical Sciences explains, “Natural factors within the body produce circadian rhythms. However, signals from the environment also affect them. The main cue influencing circadian rhythms is daylight. This light can turn on or turn off genes that control the molecular structure of biological clocks. Changing the light-dark cycles can speed up, slow down, or reset biological clocks as well as circadian rhythms.”
Our body’s circadian rhythm is what causes us to start to feel tired when it gets dark out. When your body is exposed to light, on the other hand, it won’t produce as much melatonin — the hormone that directly influences how to sleep better at night naturally. Exposing your body to bright lights before bedtime can throw off your natural sleep cycle.
When you start feeling tired (or if it’s getting close to bedtime), the lights in your room should go off. This is especially true if you have LED lights in your home, as their higher-intensity brightness produces the same “blue light” produced by electronic devices. This can make it harder to fall asleep.
You should also be mindful of external light sources that can reach your room, even when the lights are off. If other family members will be staying up later than you, be sure to shut the bedroom door so that light and noise from other rooms doesn’t disrupt your sleep.
Depending on where you live, it may get light outside very early in the morning, or it may not get dark until late at night. If this is the case, you should also take steps to block any light that might come in through the windows. Specialized curtains and window shades can help block out this light entirely, ensuring you won’t be kept lying awake wondering how to sleep better at night naturally.
4. Get Away From Electronic Devices Before Bed
One of the biggest culprits behind excessive light exposure before bedtime? Our electronic devices. Whether you’re watching a favorite TV show on Netflix or checking social media updates on your smartphone, electronic devices have consistently proven to be one of the biggest disruptors of the body’s natural sleep cycle.
The blue light produced by smartphone screens is a big part of the problem, as it keeps your body from producing melatonin. But smartphones also have a psychological impact that keeps the body from falling asleep.
As researcher Mariana Figueiro has explained, “If you’re doing something exciting on your phone, you’re still going to be alerted by that. You can use all the filtering you want; you’re still going to be playing games with your brain.
Checking email or playing a game on your smartphone provides powerful stimulation to the brain. At a time when you should be focused on falling asleep, you instead become excited or even anxious as you check in to see what’s new in the world.
With electronic devices so widespread nowadays, getting away from them in the hours leading up to bed has become increasingly difficult — it might even seem impossible to some people! Yet few things are more important for those struggling with how to sleep better at night naturally.
As hard as it may seem, try to put your phone away at least an hour before bed. The reduced mental stimulation and light exposure will make it much easier to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.
5. Sleeping Positions
For those trying to find how to sleep better at night naturally, one of the biggest challenges may be finding a comfortable sleeping position. The right position won’t just make it easier to fall asleep — it can also affect your overall sleep quality.
Certain sleep positions, such as lying on your back (either with your arms kept straight at your side or with arms and legs spread wide) can increase the risk of snoring and sleep apnea. Lying on your stomach can contribute to pain in your neck and lower back, making it hard to sleep soundly through the night.
So which sleep positions are best for getting a quality night’s rest? According to WebMD, the fetal position is “the most popular way to sleep” for a reason. Not only does it allow your body to rest the spine “in its natural alignment,” this position has even been found to help prevent mental disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease. Sleeping on your side with your arms kept close to the body has also been found to be a beneficial position.
What makes sleeping on your side the best choice for those struggling with how to sleep better at night naturally? Proper spine alignment during sleep helps reduce back pain, while also minimizing the likelihood of experiencing sleep apnea. If lying on your side doesn’t seem like your best solution, try placing a cushion between your knees as you rest to increase comfort.
If you’ve been struggling as you’ve tried to figure out how to sleep better at night naturally, you’re not alone. But while sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders are more common than you think, so too are many of the solutions closer at hand than you might realize.
As you incorporate these tips on how to sleep through the night, you’ll be able to improve your overall sleep quality and have the energy you need to get through each day. Even more importantly, you’ll be able to enjoy the many health benefits that come from regularly getting a full night’s rest.
Indeed, improving the quality of your sleep could even help you live a longer, healthier life. As such, anything you do to change your habits so you can sleep better will have a significant impact on your quality of life.
Of course, not everyone’s sleep problems will be solved by changing their diet or getting more exercise. Here at Help Medical Supplies, we offer a wide range of CPAP machines to help those who suffer from sleep apnea get the rest they need.
You don’t have to suffer from restlessness and poor sleep. You can start making changes to your life today, and you’ll be able to sleep better every night.