How to Get Better Sleep: 7 Tips
More than just a means to rest, sleep is vital to good health and greatly impacts our well-being. EIght hours of sleep a day can do a world of good to your mood, memory, and immune system. On the other hand, lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and obesity.
"Beyond getting our body to rest and regain physical strength, quality sleep supports mental and physical health, and affects quality of life. How we feel and perform throughout the day is affected by how well we slept. It is during sleep when our body is working to support vital functions of the brain and organs. Sleep also helps our cells regenerate," says Dr. Denise Lavilles, and Internal Medicine and Functional Medicine Practitioner at LifeScience Center for Health and Wellness.
Getting enough sleep is always an issue, not only for those with too much to do and too little time to sleep, but also for those who are unable to fall asleep, even when they’ve been lying in bed for hours, just tossing and turning. "Because of being constantly sleep deprived, having a restful sleep eventually becomes a challenge and may lead to unhealthy habits and dependency on sleeping pills. But sleep issues can be addressed,” Lavilles points out.
If you are having trouble getting enough quality sleep, here are some tips that might help:
1. Shut down gadgets an hour before snoozing.
Exposing your eyes to light at night makes your brain think it’s still daytime, thus it will keep you awake. And the specific type of light that’s worse in this regard, according to Healthline.com, is blue light, “which is emitted in large amounts from electronic devices like smartphones and computers.” So, simply turning off these devices, including the TV and other lights in your room, will help put your body in the right state to get a much-needed shut-eye.
2. Set a time to sleep and stick to it.
There’s no other way around it: You have to schedule your sleep and how much of it you get, which should not be more than eight hours or less than seven hours each night—the recommended amount of sleep for health adults, according to Mayoclinic.org.
Determine what time allows you to get this much sleep, and then “go to bed and get up at the same time every day,” recommends Mayoclinic.org. “Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle. If you don't fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you're tired. Repeat as needed.”
3. Have a nighttime ritual, like enjoying some hot tea or a warm bath.
Another relaxing ritual that can help you snooze is drinking some hot tea or taking a warm soothing bath (or go ahead and do both), as heat improves blood flow, which in turn provides relief, prepping your body for zzzs.
Try incorporating bath salts with relaxing scents into your bath and give yourself a full body scrub, turning your bath time into a spa experience that will calm and relax you.
For tea, choose relaxing flavors like chamomile, jasmine, or even lavender, and avoid anything with caffeine like black tea, English Breakfast (obviously), or Earl Gray. A study cited by Healthline.com found that “Caffeine can significantly worsen sleep quality, especially if large amounts are consumed in the late afternoon or evening.”
4. Use essential oils with relaxing scents.
According to Prevention.com, “Certain smells, such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang, activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain, which leads to relaxation and helps you sleep more soundly.” So, stock up on these essential oils that help induce sleep.
Get a diffuser and keep a bottle of lavender oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil by your bedside table to burn an hour to 30 minutes before bedtime (don’t forget to blow out the candle before you sleep). Or simply mix a few drops of any of these essential oils with water in a spray bottle so you can spritz it on your pillows, blankets, and your bed.
Besides aromatherapy, you can also add essential oils like lavender or lemongrass to your favorite lotion that you can apply all over your body before bedtime to reduce stress and aid your sleep.
5. Practice a deep-breathing technique.
Prevention.com recommends this technique to help “reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, [release] endorphins, and [relax] your body, priming you for sleep.” To do this, “Inhale for 5 seconds, pause for 3, then exhale to a count of 5. Start with 8 repetitions; gradually increase to 15,” the website instructs. You may also want to download the Pranayama app, which teaches various Pranayama breathing exercises and techniques. It even helps measure breath for beginners and advanced practitioners.
6. Avoid sleeping pills at all cost.
Be wary of pill-popping, especially when it comes to getting to sleep. Dependence/addiction are not the only things to worry about. “Sleeping pills…may help for a brief period of time…under a doctor’s supervision. However, insomnia cannot be cured with sleeping pills alone. They can actually make insomnia worse in the long run,” stresses Lavilles.
7. Consult a physician or sleep specialist.
If none of the above helps you get to sleep, it might be time to seek the help of an expert. Find a clinic like LifeScience where you can consult a physician about your sleep concerns. “It is vital to recognize the basic underlying factors affecting and causing sleep problems in order to determine the appropriate steps needed to sleep better… Sleep issues can be caused by so many things, such as occupational and lifestyle factors, as well as physiologic and biologic alterations, like hormone changes and nutrient deficiencies. Because of the varying influences and types of sleep disorders, a personalized and comprehensive approach is key in addressing sleep issues down to root cause," explained Lavilles.
Specialists like Lavilles will first try to find out more about the individual during and beyond his sleep through traditional and advanced methods such as comprehensive history taking, heart rate variability, and nutrient and metabolic profiling, among others. Once this information is available, the physician will map out a treatment plan that lets one fully understand what issues affect sleep, as a more thorough understanding of how the body works empowers one to be more involved in getting restful sleep back.
For more information, visit lifescience.ph. LifeScience Center for Health and Wellness is located at 8F ACCRA Law Tower, 2nd Avenue corner 30th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines.