8 Tips for better sleep

It’s simple: when you are tired, you are not effective. Though there is not a magic number for everyone, there’s no arguing that getting between six and nine hours of sleep each day is necessary. Many factors control your sleep. A good night’s sleep depends on creating the right conditions and listening to your internal clock. Here are 8 tips to get your sleep schedule on the right track:

1. Sunlight

Exposure to natural light during the work week tends to inspire people to exercise more. Workers with a window seat are found to be better rested. One study found that daylight “may provide a profound way to improve office workers’ productivity and health, as well as the safety of the community they work and live in.” To get as much daylight as possible, take an outside walking meeting, eat your lunch outside or take your phone call outdoors.

2. Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise seem endless – it can reduce stress levels and anxiety, lower the risk for many diseases, and generally makes us happy people. Studies suggest that daily exercise can also improve sleep quality.  Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energised to fall asleep.

3. Routine

Maintaining a regular sleeping routine has many benefits to your physical and emotional health. If you do not have regular sleeping hours, you may find that you have a difficult time concentrating, feel less energised and forget things. Go to bed the same time every night and get up the same time every morning – even on the weekends.  

4. Napping

Some people swear by naps, others find that napping during the day disrupts their sleep at night. Naps can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on how we use them. In general, short naps may not hurt sleep. To benefit from a nap, do not sleep for more than 20 minutes and ideally between 13.00 and 16.00. However, long naps during the day can damage a good sleep rhythm.

5. Caffeine

Don’t get us wrong, we fully support taking coffee breaks throughout the day, but timing is everything. Caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea and soft drinks have a stimulating effect that disturbs the sleep cycle. Try to avoid consuming caffeine eight hours before you go to bed. Instead, opt for drinks that are proven to help you fall asleep easier, like Chamomile-lavender tea or warm milk.

6. Relax

For many of us, as soon as our heads hit the pillows, our minds start racing. We think about what happened that day, things we need to do tomorrow, etc. One thing is for sure, if you’re stressed out, you’ll stay awake. Before going to bed, take time to wind down. Do relaxing things, like turning off the lights, light some candles, read a book, take a bath, or meditate.  Relaxing before going to sleep helps control stress levels and leads to better sleep.

7. Darkness

A key factor in regulating sleep is exposure to light or darkness. According to a recent study, people with high light exposure are more likely to wake up confused during the night and experience fatigue. Light pollution can be found in any sizeable city in the world. Excessive exposure to light at night may affect how we function during the day and increase the risks of excessive sleepiness. If you have light streaming in through your windows at night, consider using room darkening shades, or a sleep mask.

8. Electronics

The number one way to get better sleep: Turn off the technology, especially in the sanctity of your bedroom. Our mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and computers keep us from falling asleep and sleeping well.  The physical act of responding to an email makes your body tense. As you get stressed, your body can go into a “fight or flight” response, and as a result, cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland, is released, creating a situation conducive to sleep. Keep your electronics outside of the bedroom and try to limit use one hour before bedtime.

How do you sleep better?

If all else fails, remember that there are very specific treatments for sleep, so it’s important to see someone who is a qualified sleep specialist. Do you have a routine that works for you?  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.