Sleep is essential for life. It’s such a vital component of health and wellness that it’s possible to die from lack of sleep.
While few people have to worry about their occasional insomnia leading to their sudden death, sleepless nights are something to take seriously. Sleep is too important.
The good news is poor sleep can be fixed with one or more adjustments and techniques. With this in mind, let’s look at ways to improve sleep quality:
Stick to a sleep schedule
While this isn’t an option for those who have irregular work schedules, sticking to a sleep schedule is the first step to improving sleep quality. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve sleep quality. With this in mind, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends.
Melatonin is a hormone responsible for helping regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Taking melatonin supplements can help improve sleep quality, especially for people who have difficulty falling asleep. While easy-dose melatonin is available over the counter in the form of melatonin gummies, it’s best to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Follow a bedtime routine
A calm and relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a warm bath or reading a book, can help signal your brain that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. You should also avoid screens and bright lights before bedtime as they can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Doing so will help your body and mind go into their natural sleep mode.
Optimize your bedroom for sleep
Your sleep environment significantly impacts the quality of your sleep. Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Invest in comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress and pillow. Consider ambient noise sources, such as box fans and sound machines, as a way to further optimize your sleep environment.
Cut-off caffeine consumption
This one is a no-brainer. With that said, many people choose to consume caffeine well beyond the recommended cut-off time, which is 3 pm at the latest. Since caffeine is a stimulant that tricks our brains into thinking we’re not tired, limiting your caffeine intake to early mornings will prove beneficial in achieving better sleep at night.
Limit alcohol consumption
Many people enjoy a drink or two in the evenings as a way to wind down. Unfortunately, alcohol can disrupt sleep. With this in mind, those with a tendency to consume alcohol on a regular basis should consider cutting back as a means of getting better sleep.
Manage stress and anxiety
Everyone has the occasional night where they can’t sleep due to ceaseless worrying. While the rare stress-driven bout of insomnia is unfortunately not unusual, those who constantly struggle to fall asleep due to unrelenting negative thinking should take steps to manage their stress and anxiety. It’s easier said than done, but efforts to manage stress and anxiety – such as mindfulness or speaking with a therapist – could be a game changer in your effort to get better quality sleep.
Get regular exercise
Exercise can help improve sleep quality, but avoiding vigorous activity close to bedtime is best. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
See a sleep specialist
If all else fails, consider seeing a sleep specialist. They will run tests and conduct sleep studies to determine if there is any underlying condition responsible for your chronic insomnia. A sleep specialist may also prescribe you medication meant to help you go to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Virtually every animal on the planet requires sleep to live. Humans are no exception. Unfortunately, poor sleep is becoming all too common among us homo sapiens. Due to the negative impact of insomnia on our health and wellness, taking steps to improve sleep is essential. From sticking to a sleep schedule to seeing a sleep specialist, too many options exist for people to continue struggling with poor sleep. As a result, now is the time to do something about all those Zzzzs you’ve been missing.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys writing about business, finance, health, and travel.