One of the most overlooked parts of a truly healthy life is sleep and healthy sleep habits.
In fact, many people don’t realize that you spend a third of your life in bed!
Everything you do throughout the day, and especially right before bedtime, can affect your sleep.
What you eat or drink, what medications you take, and what you do before bed can either be beneficial or disruptive to your sleep.
In fact, even the slightest changes can make a huge difference.
That’s why healthy sleep habits are so important!
Let’s take a closer look at our top ten healthy sleep habits for 2021…
1. Consistent Sleep Schedule
Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
This healthy sleep habit sounds simple, but it’s one of the most difficult to practice.
The reason is that it requires a lot of discipline!
Your circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock. Ultimately, it tells your brain when it’s time to fall asleep and when to wake up.
It’s also influenced by the times that the sun rises and sets.
As the sun goes down, your body slowly begins to produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
That’s why the best thing to do is to set your circadian rhythm by going to bed shortly after sunset and waking up with sunrise.
However, in some areas of the world, this can be difficult to do.
Far-north countries like Finland are the most extreme example of this.
Depending on the season, there will be almost no sunlight during the winter and in some cases up to 24 hours of sunlight in summer. (1)
When you can’t get normal sunlight, try to simulate the sun’s patterns yourself.
For example, fully shut the blinds at night and turn bright lights on right away in the morning.
2. Bedtime Rituals
Morning rituals can set your day up for success, but bedtime rituals are just as important.
Most people may feel physically tired from their day, but many just don’t feel relaxed enough to fall asleep easily.
Especially in today’s “always-on” world, you need to give your mind a little help here and there.
Bedtime rituals can be any activity that is relaxing and helps you prepare for sleep, including:
Taking a hot shower
Putting pajamas on
Reading a book
Brushing your teeth
If you do the same thing every night, it will signal your brain for bedtime.
3. Exercise Regularly
It’s no secret how good regular exercise is for your health, including the lungs, heart, and muscles.
However, one of the main perks is that it will also help you sleep!
There is a lot of evidence that proves exercise helps you fall asleep faster and improves sleep quality.
For example, moderate regular exercise increases the amount of deep sleep you get. (2)
Deep sleep is when your brain and body fully rejuvenate and prepare for life’s daily challenges.
Exercise is best at the beginning of the day because it can help jumpstart your hormones.
With that said, exercise can also help you decompress the mind after a long day.
Think of it like clearing the RAM off your smartphone as you restart it again!
4. Eat Healthily
Your diet and nutrition affect pretty much every aspect of your physical and mental health.
This is especially true if you combine a healthy diet with regular exercise!
Ultimately, what you eat impacts the quantity and quality of your sleep!
There are a few things that you should avoid eating or drinking, such as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
It’s also important to refrain from having too many calories before catching your Z’s. Try to eat your last snack or meal at least two hours before bedtime. (3)
In addition, try to avoid too many fluids before you hit the hay.
Drinking too much water can make you go to the bathroom during the night, and it’s best to have uninterrupted slumber.
However, there are a few tasty foods you can enjoy which have a positive impact on your sleep.
According to the Sleep Foundation, eating a few tart cherries may promote healthy sleep. (4)
A teaspoon of Manuka honey can also supply the liver with the nutrients it needs to produce melatonin.
Last but not least, chamomile tea can help your brain unwind at the end of the day.
5. Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine is one of the worst things to consume for a good night’s sleep.
For starters, it’s a stimulant that promotes alertness. As a result, it blocks the brain receptors that promote sleep.
A cup of coffee will reach its peak level within the first hour of drinking it, but has a half-life of up to 5 hours.
In other words, that caffeine can mess up your sleep long after the effects wear off.
We all have that one friend who claims they can have an espresso or two before bed and still sleep in peace. However, that is most definitely not the norm!
More likely than not, caffeine will have a disruptive effect on your sleep.
For example, one study found that caffeine can delay the timing of your circadian rhythm and reduce your total sleep time. (5)
It can also decrease the amount of your REM sleep, also known as the deep sleep phase.
So put the coffee down! The best source of energy is a well-balanced diet that’s full of energizing vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin B-12 can improve mood and boost energy, while the electrolytes in veggies support cellular energy production.
6. Avoid Nicotine
Don’t smoke! Period.
In fact, you should avoid all forms of nicotine and tobacco products.
Smoking is generally bad for you, that’s common knowledge.
However, it turns out that nicotine is also a major sleep disruptor thanks to its stimulating effects.
In fact, smoking is often linked to an increased risk of sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea. (6)
7. Avoid Alcohol
Many confuse the sedating and relaxing effects of alcohol as being beneficial for their sleep.
However, the consumption of alcohol, especially in excess, is proven to do the exact opposite. (7)
As it turns out, alcohol is closely linked to poor sleep quality.
In fact, all it takes is a few drinks to produce effects similar to insomnia and sleep apnea.
It is important to keep in mind that we all react differently to every substance, but in general, alcohol is terrible for your health.
Not only is it bad for sleep, but it’s also bad for inflammation, the root cause of most diseases.
When it comes down to it, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain by drinking alcohol.
8. Keep Your Naps Short
Naps are a great way to catch up on sleep, but if you let your naps get too long it can seriously backfire!
Aim to nap for only 10-20 minutes.
The issue with longer naps is that you are increasingly likely to feel even more tired afterward.
In addition, try to take your naps in the early afternoon.
A nap that’s too close to bedtime can interfere with your circadian rhythm and disrupt your nighttime sleep.
9. Only Use Your Bed for Sleep
Habits are king!
If you do too many daytime activities in bed, like watching videos, your brain will associate it with being awake.
The idea here is to prime your body to start getting sleepy in connection with lying down on your bed.
This is known as cognitive behavioral therapy, which is often used to treat insomnia.
Any other activity you do in bed may prevent you from getting the sleep you need.
10. Limit Exposure to Bright Lights
Bright lights, especially the blue light on your phone and computer screen, keep you up.
The problem is that bright lights prevent the brain from producing the sleep hormone melatonin. (8)
While all types of light will suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light is the biggest culprit.
Try to put away your smartphone, TV, or tablet at least an hour before bedtime.
You’ll probably find that you fall asleep much faster when you cut down on screen time at night.
Healthy Sleep Habits Could Change Your Life!
It’s a well-known fact that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your physical and mental health.
However, the truth is that sleep’s impact is impossible to measure.
Chronic poor sleep can shorten your lifespan and greatly reduce your quality of life. (9)
It can be difficult to add all of these healthy sleep habits to your daily routine at once, so we suggest adding them one-by-one and take it slow.
Over time, you will thank yourself for prioritizing sleep.
You’ll wake up feeling more focused, energized, and fresh each morning.
If you have any more questions about healthy sleep habits, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.