If you have trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. Luckily, there’re many things that you can do to naturally improve your sleep quality and duration.
According to statistics an estimated 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders that affect their daily lives and relationships (Institute of Medicine, 2006). That’s a lot of people, isn’t it? But, there’s a solution to this problem – healthy sleep habits!
Actually, sleep deprivation has been linked to decreased energy and increased irritability, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and even cancer.
Notably, adults usually need 7-9 hours of sleep daily. However, the reasons why people have poor sleep habits are various. But, the most common causes include mental stress and physical fatigue.
This article will make it easier for you to sleep well and get up refreshed in the morning.
“Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.” — Heraclitus
Healthy habits to improve sleep
What matters the most when it comes to naturally improving your quality of sleep is not only your bed or mattress but also your mental status and sleep habits.
Here’s some expert advice to help you create healthy sleep habits:
(1) Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed.
(2) Go to bed and get up at the same time everyday.
(3) Take a warm bath 1-2 hours before bed.
(4) Keep your bedroom cool.
(5) Watch your diet and eating habits.
(6) Avoid noise at bedtime.
(7) Don’t think too much before bed.
(8) Keep your bedroom for sleeping only.
(9) Take a multivitamin supplement to improve your sleep.
(10) Don’t exercise before sleeping.
(11) Don’t smoke before bedtime.
(12) Avoid taking late naps.
(13) Dim the lights and colors.
(14) Get used to sleeping alone.
(15) Listen to your favorite sounds.
(16) Change your pillowcase regularly.
(17) Use lavender oil.
(18) Practice deep breathing and meditation.
(19) Get a massage.
(20) Use a light-based alarm.
(21) Read a book before sleeping.
(22) Try acupuncture.
(23) Use a sleep mask.
(24) Practice yoga.
(25) Drink tea.
(26) Consume more Vitamin D.
(27) Talk to your doctor about sleeping medication.
(1) Cut off alcohol and caffeinated beverages to improve your sleep
Drinking alcohol or drinks containing caffeine such as coffee, cocoa and colas before going to bed will likely affect your quality of sleep.
Alcohol gives your brain signals of wakefulness while the caffeine keeps you from sleeping deeply. As such, it’s best to avoid taking caffeine within 4 to 6 hours of bedtime.
Although alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, it causes many problems during the night because blood alcohol level decreases gradually after taking it.
According to research, an estimated 36-67% of persons with alcohol dependency suffer from insomnia.
Notably, some of the symptoms of insomnia include waking up frequently during the night, challenges falling asleep and sleepiness during the day.
Alcohol can also worsen sleep disorders such as sleep apnea (Alberta Health Services, 2014).
So, if you must take a drink, allow for some time between drinking and sleeping to give your body the chance to digest the alcohol properly.
(2) Go to bed and get up at the same time to create healthy sleep habits
A regular sleep schedule is a healthy sleep habit to develop.
Waking up at the same time every day makes your brain know that it’s time for sleeping soon even if there are lots of things to do.
This will increase your odds of sleeping well despite having personal challenges.
According to research, variations of bed time of more than 30 minutes were linked to a higher likelihood of insufficient sleep.
Of note, other disadvantages of bed time variations include poorer diet, increased alcohol consumption and an overall unhealthier lifestyle (Duncan et al., 2016).
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I’m reborn.” – Gandhi
(3) Take a warm bath to naturally improve your sleeping habits
Implementing a warm bath is an easy but effective strategy to improve your sleep habits.
Taking a warm bath increases blood flow and relaxes muscles, which makes it easier for you to fall asleep.
Also, a good bath will help you relax if you’re feeling stressed.
Research from the University of Texas shows that taking a bath 1-2 hours before bed and with water of 104-109 degrees Fahrenheit improves sleep.
Essentially, a warm bath or shower stimulates the thermoregulatory system of the body which helps you to cool down.
(4) Keep your bedroom cool to naturally improve your sleep
Research shows that the temperature of the room is one of the most important factors that affects sleep.
Due to thermoregulation, heat or cold exposure influences wakefulness and eye movement during sleep (Okamoto-Mizuno et al., 2012).
According to the experiments, individuals feel more comfortable sleeping with room temperature of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (18-21 degrees Celsius).
So, set your thermostat to the recommended temperature to improve your sleep.
(5) Watch your diet to naturally improve your sleep
Our diet really does directly or indirectly affect all other aspects of our lives – including our quality of sleep.
Research comparing short sleepers (less than 6 hours), intermediate sleepers and long sleepers (more than 9 hours) showed that short sleepers have lower calcium, fiber and potassium intake.
Additionally, the culture of eating within 3 hours of bedtime, increased the likelihood of long sleeping (Mossavar-Rahmani et al., 2015).
In fact, some foods may be relaxing or contain substances that enhance sleep.
However, eating too close to bedtime, too much food or certain types of food (spicy/acidic) can affect sleep (Peters, 2020).
Plus, you don’t want to be getting up every few hours to use the washroom.
(6) Avoid noise to naturally improve your sleeping habits
If you live in a place where the noise bothers you, close the window or change rooms to make it more quiet.
Although there are many devices which can help remove noises easily, using ear plugs might provide the effect you want. This simple change can provide tons of benefits.
According to research, it’s important that your bedroom is prepared and associated with sleeping. As such, avoiding bright lights and loud sounds are important (National Institute of Health, 2019).
Here’re reusable and washable silicone earplugs. These will help with noise protection and reduction but will still make it possible for you to hear critical noises.
(7) Don’t think too much before going to bed
Another healthy sleep habit to develop is to not think about anything in particular before you go to bed.
If you really can’t fall asleep, try reading a book or listening to music instead of worrying about what you need to do the next day.
(8) Keep your bedroom for sleeping only
Another healthy sleep habit you should work on developing is to keep your bedroom for sleeping only.
In fact, if you keep doing something else in your bedroom besides sleeping, such as watching TV and working on a computer, it will make your mind associate the bedroom with something other than sleep which disrupts your bedtime routine.
“A well spent day brings happy sleep.” – Leonardo de Vinci
(9)Take a multivitamin supplement to improve your sleep
Vitamin supplements can be a great alternative for improving your sleep particularly if you’re not consuming enough in your diet.
However, always remember that vitamins should ‘supplement’ and not ‘replace’ healthy foods.
Research shows that Vitamin B6 increased the amount of dreaming and the ability to recall dreams (Aspy et al., 2018).
So, consider increasing your consumption of fish, potatoes and fruits such as avocado and bananas.
Another study showed that melatonin, medicinal plans and vitamin B6 improves sleep duration, and daytime parameters related to sleep (Lemoine et al., 2019).
(10) Don’t exercise before sleeping to naturally improve sleep
Exercising during the day is a great habit for improving your quality of sleep. But, if you want to sleep well at night, it has been traditionally recommended to not exercise right before bedtime.
This is because after you exercise, your body temperature goes up and increases blood flow, which makes it much more difficult for you to fall asleep.
So take time, preferably a few hours, between exercise and sleep.
Notably, some more recent studies report that it’s okay to exercise up to a hour before bed once it’s not intense physical activity.
(11) Do not smoke at least one hour before sleeping
To develop healthy sleep habits, it’s important to avoid smoking about two hours before bed. Preferably, smoking should be completely avoided.
The nicotine and other substances in cigarettes can prevent you from getting well rested if you smoke just before going to bed.
I’m sure you may argue that nicotine helps your relax and thus, sleep better. But, research shows that nicotine has stimulant properties that may cause sleeping issues.
One study conducted in China showed that smokers had poor quality of sleep and more sleep disturbances when compared to non-smokers.
In fact, quit attempts and smoking cravings also affected sleep (Liao et al., 2019).
Notably, for this study smokers were defined as persons who smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime or smoked during the last 28 days (Liao et al., 2019).
(12) Avoid late naps to naturally improve nighttime sleep
To develop healthy sleep habits, beware of your napping time, frequency and duration.
I’ll admit, you may feel refreshed after napping. But, taking a nap too late in the day may prevent you from feeling sleepy at night. The same applies for frequent napping.
As such, if you do need a nap try to schedule it in early or middle of the afternoon.
“There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled.” — Edward Lucas
(13) Dim the lights and colors to naturally improve your sleep
If your bedroom is not comfortable, it may prevent you from sleeping well. So, show your bedroom the love and care it deserves to naturally improve your sleep.
I already mentioned the need to avoid electronics in bed and to limit noise.
Here are a few other tips for building healthy sleep habits:
Reduce the light around you
For instance consider darker curtains or change of room to block out some light.
Did you know that people who sleep in cluttered rooms are more likely to having sleeping problems? Well, they are. So, start decluttering ASAP to improve your sleep naturally.
Change the color of your bedroom
If you want to feel more relaxed at night, consider changing the color of your room to make it look soothing and relaxing to sleep in. So, opt for blue instead of red and avoid glossy paints.
(14) Get used to sleeping alone to naturally improve your sleep
Although you may feel lonely sleeping alone, getting used to it may make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
This is particularly helpful if you have a partner that snores, moves a lot or comes to bed at a different time.
(15) Listen to your favorite sound to naturally improve your sleep
Listening to sounds is a great, healthy sleep habit that can be incorporated quite easily.
If there is any sound that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable, listen to it quietly before going to bed so that you can sleep better at night.
Studies show that listening to soft music or the sound of raindrops on a rooftop helps people fall asleep faster because they help remove stress and relax their body.
(16) Change your pillowcase regularly to improve your sleep
Although you may not be able to see the dirt on your pillows, it is important that you change it every week or two because they harbor dead skin cells which attract dust mites.
These dust mites can worsen allergies and disturb you sleep.
Additionally, consider making it a habit to change your pillows every 1-2 years.
(17) Use lavender oil to relax your mind to naturally improve sleep
If you’re afraid of using medication as a sleep aid, you can put a couple of drops of lavender oil on your pillow or in your diffuser before sleeping.
Lavender has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and mind which improves sleep.
In fact, studies have shown that lavender can help you fall asleep faster and increase the quality of sleep.
“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.” — Leonard Cohen
(18) Practice deep breathing & meditation to naturally improve sleep
Deep breathing and meditation are great healthy sleep habits to develop.
In fact, one of the easiest ways to naturally fall asleep is practicing deep breathing so that you can calm your body.
Just take about 5 minutes before going to bed and practice deep breathing exercise by inhaling for 5 seconds then exhaling for 10 seconds until your mind relaxes and falls asleep.
Additionally, meditation is a great way to clear your mind at night because it helps you relax your muscles and balance your energy systems. So, take some time before sleeping to practice meditation.
(19) Get a massage to naturally improve your sleep
Consider a good ole foot massage to improve your sleep naturally.
In fact, a massage has been shown to improve sleep because it helps people relax their body and mind.
Even if you can’t afford a professional, ask your partner to give you a massage before going to sleep because it relaxes your muscles and slow down the heart rate so that you can fall asleep faster at night.
(20) Use a light-based alarm clock for waking up
Do you remember that I recommended establishing regular sleep patterns as a way to build healthy sleep habits?
Well, an alarm may be the perfect way to help you get and stay on track.
However, a light based alarm will likely be a better than a sound based alarm.
This is because light based alarms mimic the rising of the sun and allows for a more gradual, natural waking up process.
On the other hand, sound based alarm may shock you out of sleep, leaving you irritated and confused (Sleep station, 2020)
(21) Read a book before sleeping
Although it may be tempting to stay on your phone or watch TV until you feel sleepy, reading a book can help calm your mind and body and distract you from your stresses so that you go to sleep at night without struggling.
In fact, it takes as little as 6 minutes reading for your stress levels to decrease by more than 65%.
That’s more than enough reason to start working on this healthy sleep habit.
Plus, sleeping after learning helps consolidate memory. One study showed that children who were read stories before bed had improved word retention compared to those who didn’t.
Actually, this positive effect occurred even if the same story was read every night (Williams & Horst, 2014).
“Sleep is like the golden chain that binds our health and body together." - Thomas Dekker
(22) Try acupuncture to naturally improve your sleep
Although acupuncture may seem intimidating, it has been shown to improve the quality of sleep as well as the symptoms of insomnia.
Consistent sessions will cause progressive improvement so remember to stay committed to developing this healthy sleep habit.
If you want to use the power of nature, you can try acupuncture before sleeping so that it helps relieve any stress or fatigue from your body by balancing your yin and yang energy systems.
Notably, yin and yang are two opposing – or rather complementary – forces in nature that are interconnected and interdependent. Yin is the female principle of receptivity while yang is its male counterpart of action.
Accordingly, there are five elements in nature including fire, earth, metal, water and wood which are all associated with one of the two energies.
When one is out of balance, the other compensates for it so that they stay in harmony with each other.
(23) Use a sleep mask to naturally improve your sleep
Continually using a sleep mask is a simple sleep habit to develop.
If there is any light that bothers you at night, you can use a sleep mask to cover your eyes and help you fall asleep.
Research shows that using a sleep mask helps promote hormone balance and sleep since melatonin and cortisol levels varied significantly in patients who used sleep masks and ear plugs when compared to those who didn’t (Hu et al., 2010).
Check out this 3D contoured cup sleep mask. It is made of memory foam and designed to fit closely and block all light without putting pressure on the eyes.
(24) Practice some yoga poses to naturally improve your sleep
Consider yoga if you’re thinking of creating healthy sleep habits.
Actually, yoga is a great way to relax your mind and body before sleeping because it helps with relaxation.
In fact, practicing yoga will also help you sleep longer and fall back asleep if you do get up during the night.
Although there are many different yoga poses that you can use, practicing downward dog pose is a great way to relax your mind and help improve your sleep.
(25) Tea can naturally improve your sleep
Personally, I love a cup of tea at nights.
Herbal teas such as chamomile or lavender tea can help improve your sleep at night because they contain soothing ingredients that calm your mind and body.
So develop the healthy habit of sipping on some herbal tea before going to bed to improve your sleep.
(26) Consume more vitamin D to improve your sleep
Although some people can get enough Vitamin D from the sun, it is important to take a supplement for those who don’t receive much sunlight throughout the day or year.
Without proper levels of Vitamin D in your body, you will struggle with staying asleep and might even feel tired during the day because of your lack of sleep.
According to research, vitamin D has been proven to regulate sleep and pain. In fact, vitamin D was shown to decrease sleepiness, and improve sleep quality and duration (Gao et al., 2018).
(27) Talk to your doctor about medication for sleep
If improving your sleep habits is challenging, remember to consult your healthcare professional.
Although medication may be the last thing that you want to talk about, it’s important to have an open conversation with your doctor if you’ve been having trouble sleeping.
In fact, these difficulties with sleep may be associated with an underlying health condition.
Final words on healthy sleep habits
The importance of sleep and the benefits it has on our minds and bodies is something that should not be underestimated.
Adequate sleep in essential for all dimensions of our personal wellness.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get enough sleep. But with these tips, you should be able to fall asleep faster and improve your quality of sleep in no time.
Have you tried any of these tips to improve your sleeping habits? Let me know in the comments below.
Keep calm and sleep on
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