Could You Improve Your Sleep Quality This Year?
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? New Year’s resolutions often include changes designed to benefit our health. You probably know someone who plans to start a new diet or exercise routine at the beginning of the year. But, have you ever considered resolving to improve your sleep quality?
Sleep plays a vitally important role in our overall well-being. Unfortunately, though, the importance of quality sleep is often overlooked in our fast-paced society.
According to The Sleep Foundation, adults over the age of 65 should get 7 to 8 hours of high-quality sleep every night. On average, how much sleep do you get?
Please keep reading to find out why it’s so important to get good sleep. We’ll also give you 11 tips on how to improve your sleep quality naturally.
Why Sleep Is Important
Good sleep is just as important for your body as a healthy diet and regular exercise. Sleep helps your body function in various ways, many of which we don’t often think about or learn about. For example, the right amount of quality sleep:
- generates the energy we need for exercise, which helps us lose or maintain weight
- sharpens thinking, concentration, and memory
- supports emotional regulation and self-control
- enhances our productivity and creative thinking
- produces leptin, the hormone that naturally suppresses appetite after we’ve eaten enough
- strengthens physical abilities, such as walking, grip strength, and reaction times
- reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, inflammation, type II diabetes, depression, anxiety, and suicide
- improves immune system function
- helps form and consolidate memories
- heals emotional wounds
Clearly, you’re not doing yourself any favors by skipping out on a good night’s sleep. But what if, despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to fall asleep at night?
Why Can’t I Sleep?
Many factors can contribute to a good – or bad – night’s sleep. While no two people function exactly the same way, there are a few common culprits to blame for poor-quality sleep. For example:
- medical conditions like sleep apnea
- chronic stress or anxiety
- spicy foods
- lack of exercise
- restless leg syndrome
- poor sleep habits
- sleeping pills
If you saw something in this list that could be contributing to your lack of sleep, please talk to your doctor and make the appropriate lifestyle changes. Your body will thank you! In the meantime, though, take a look at these tips from Harvard Health and The Sleep Foundation for improving sleep quality.
11 Tips to Improve Sleep Quality
Learn how to improve sleep naturally. Sleeping pills might make you drowsy, but they can adversely affect the quality of your sleep. Try these natural tips instead.
Keep your bedroom cool. Experts agree that an ideal bedroom temperature for sleeping is 65°F. If that seems too chilly, add an extra blanket or quilt on top of your bedding.
Maintain a quiet bedroom. If necessary, block outside noises with ambient sounds, soothing music, or noise-blocking curtains for better quality sleep.
Keep your bedroom dark at bedtime. Even artificial lights can stop your brain from producing melatonin, a hormone that helps you feel sleepy and relaxed. Use dimmer lights if you have them.
Avoid using devices in your bedroom. Televisions, smartphones, and other devices with screens produce artificial blue light that prevents a good night’s sleep. Try to keep them in another room at night.
Use a good mattress and bedding. Don’t use an old, lumpy mattress if you can avoid it. Vacuum your carpet and wash your pillowcases, sheets, and blankets regularly to get rid of dust mites.
Don’t drink caffeine after lunchtime. Caffeine can stay in your body for hours, keeping you awake long past bedtime. If you need to drink caffeine, drink it in the morning.
Don’t smoke, and only drink alcohol in moderation. Nicotine and excessive alcohol use both interfere with sleep quality. Avoid drinking alcohol late in the evening.
Exercise regularly. Good sleep will help you to exercise more often, while regular exercise will help you sleep better. Try to exercise every day.
Develop a relaxing sleep routine. A hot bath, calming music, and a quiet book can help soothe your mind and body before bedtime. Going to sleep at the same time after doing the same things every night will make it much easier to fall asleep.
Talk to your doctor. If you still can’t seem to fall asleep after trying all of the tips above, you may consider doing a sleep study. A sleep study can help your doctor to identify any sleep disorders and get you the right treatment.
If you’re struggling to increase your energy, boost your mood, or strengthen your immune system, better sleep might be just what you need. Before you settle in for your 7 to 8 hours tonight, try using one of the sleep tips above. Good night, and good luck!
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