One thing that is grossly underestimated is the impact that sleep, or lack thereof, can have on a healthy lifestyle. Realistically, a proper sleep routine does so much more than just getting you some rest. The outcomes are far-reaching in helping you lose weight, stress less, and dramatically lower your risk for chronic health conditions like heart disease. Let’s take a look at some ways you can establish the right sleep routine for your lifestyle.
The key to having a successful sleep routine is consistency. It doesn’t matter if your bedtime is 8 am or 8 pm. You want to aim for approximately the same time each night, keeping in mind that it should be about 8 hours away from your wake-up time.
Another tip here is to coordinate similar activities for the night. For example, put your pajamas on, then brush your teeth, then read a book. This consistency helps trigger your body to relax and helps you fall asleep faster.
Temperature and sleep have an interesting connection. Your body has what’s called a circadian rhythm. This is essentially your sleep-wake cycle and is influenced by things like sunlight and temperature. When we are exposed to light, either natural or artificial light, or light from electronic devices, our bodies cancel the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This keeps us awake, regardless of what time it is. The same is true for temperature. As the sun rises in the morning, your body temperatures rise and cause you to start waking up.
Background noise and its influence on sleep can be a tricky factor to manage, and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong level of noise while you sleep. You can eliminate some of the obvious sounds, such as loud racket or neighbors yelling, that can clearly keep you awake; however, sleep doesn’t always require pin-drop silence either. Try experimenting with different levels of noise to see what suits you best. Perhaps you are a person who does need complete silence, or maybe you are someone who would benefit from the white noise of a fan or sound machine. Lastly, there are various “sleep stories” you can play that are designed to help you drift off to sleep. These stories, though soothing and relaxing to some, are much too stimulating to others. It’s important to at least try and see if this is a good fit for you.
This step has a wide variety of options. One key factor is to minimize screen usage for up to an hour prior to actually going to bed. This includes things like TV and computer, but also that handy device you’re likely reading this on. Even things like reading on a kindle can affect your ability to fall asleep. Switch to an old-fashioned paperback instead, and if it’s imperative that you use a screen, consider blue light blocking options to minimize the impact.
In addition, certain activities can also overstimulate you and prevent sleep. For example, exercising or similar strenuous activities can keep you up. Drinking or eating anything with caffeine (chocolate!) can also delay falling asleep. It’s best to coordinate things like this earlier in the day.
5. Health Conditions
Certain chronic health conditions can both lead to sleep loss as well as stem from lack of sleep. One key condition is sleep apnea, which is brief periods of not breathing while you are sleeping. Your body senses this and wakes up, though not fully alert. In the morning, you feel like you barely slept, which isn’t entirely inaccurate. Sleep apnea, in turn, causes plaque build-up in your arteries and puts you at higher risk for heart disease. If you snore or frequently wake during the night, consider seeing a sleep apnea dentist to help diagnose and treat you for this condition.
As you can see, a sleep routine is vital for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and putting one in place doesn’t have to be painstaking or overwhelming. Once you get a few easy steps established, your sleep routine will be barely a blip on the radar, and you can move on to restful and restorative sleep in no time.