Five Tips to Improve Sleep for Better Health and Wellness
Sleep serves as a protective measure for your physical and emotional health. The average adult should sleep between seven and nine hours per night. Lack of sleep increases your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and anxiety or depression.
Sleep also has a healing impact on the body. While you are sleeping, your body performs cell and tissue repair and growth, removes toxins from the brain, and releases hormones that aid blood sugar control, appetite regulation and immune system maintenance. You can improve your sleep by addressing some key lifestyle habits.
1. Maintain a regular sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day so your body can find its natural rhythm. This will help your internal clock. Make sure you listen to your body, but stay consistent and get between seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.
2. Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day and darkness at night. To ensure adequate exposure to natural light, you can spend time outside or open the blinds to allow natural light into your home. If you have limited exposure to natural light, consider a seasonal affective disorder (SAD) light box. To ensure darkness, avoid blue light exposure from electronics two to three hours before bedtime. Turn the lights in your home down in the evening, close curtains and use night lights instead of direct light in rooms.
3. Stay active. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever that also improves sleep quality. Exercise approximately 30 minutes, at moderate level intensity (brisk walk, trail hike, bicycling, leisurely swimming), on a regular basis. Avoid exercising two to three hours before bedtime.
4. Limit daytime naps to 20-30 minutes, if naps are necessary. Naps don’t make up for inadequate nighttime sleep, but naps can assist with improving mood, alertness and performance.
5. Identify and manage stress. Stress symptoms may impact your ability to sleep. Identifying stressors and making lifestyle changes to reduce stress can improve sleep. Sleep in turn will help you feel more energized and capable of handling difficult situations. Small changes over time will help improve your sleep — keeping you well-rested, healthy and able to enjoy your quality of life.