You do your best to get a good night’s sleep, but you still wake up feeling exhausted instead of refreshed. You might not be focusing enough on the quality of sleep you’re actually getting.
It’s only through getting high-quality sleep that you’ll feel renewed instead of half-awake. But what is quality sleep, and how do you know if you’re getting it?
It’s hard to pinpoint because everybody’s version of quality is a bit different. To help us come up with a universal description of quality sleep, the National Sleep Foundation gave some key features of what it entails.
Here are some of their guidelines for good sleep:
- Waking up only once or not at all every night.
- After you’ve managed to fall asleep for the night, you aren’t awake for more than 20 minutes the remainder of the night. If you wake up, you can quickly get back to sleep.
- You’re able to fall asleep in under 30 minutes when you go to bed.
- Being asleep a minimum of 85 percent of the time when you’re in bed.
If you’re looking for ways to improve sleep, you need to examine your sleep hygiene, learn why it is important, and how it can turn things around for you.
Don’t Be in the Dark About Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene involves establishing certain habits that will help you get high-quality night rest. That’s crucial if you’re hoping to feel well-rested and ready to tackle your day when you wake up in the morning.
Good sleep can make you more productive throughout your day. Your work performance should improve and you’ll feel more energetic with your after-work activities too. Plus, your mood and mental alertness will experience an upswing as well.
Basically, you’ll have all the tools you’ll need to start rocking every area of your life. Getting good sleep is important.
Before we get into the sleep-improving tips, let’s look at the top three signs you might have poor sleep hygiene.
1. It Takes You a Long Time to Drift Off
You’re not going to fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow unless you’ve just returned home for an insane night out with your friends that involved lots of cocktails. And, even then, that’s passing out, not sleeping. It’s not the same thing at all.
It’s normal to need a few minutes to unwind from your day and mull over a few things in your head before you’re able to sleep. But if you find that process takes longer than 30 minutes, you’ve got some work to do to improve things.
2. Frequent Waking in the Night
Once you go to sleep, you should mostly stay in that state to achieve deep sleep that will leave you feeling refreshed the next day. If you find yourself waking up multiple times a night, something’s wrong. You’ll need to work on instilling habits that will help you stay asleep.
3. Feeling Sleepy During the Day
That’s the worst feeling in the world, isn’t it? That urge to take a two-hour nap right in the middle of your day? When you can’t seem to prop your eyes open no matter what you do.
It’s one of the leading indications you have sleep problems.
Catch More Quality ZZZZZs With These Tips
To avoid feeling like you could fall asleep anywhere and anytime throughout your day, try these things to help you sleep.
Set Up a Schedule -- And Stick To It
Going to bed at the same time every day is a habit your body will quickly get used to. Set a new bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it every day for at least a week.
At the end of that week, you’ll find you’re sleeping better and you’ll be motivated to keep up that new bedtime. You should make your sleep schedule realistic though -- if you’re a night owl, you shouldn’t aim for 9 p.m.
Get natural light
This will trigger your sleep-wake cycle to kick in. Sunlight lets your body know it’s daytime and it’s time for you to be active. Strive for at least a few minutes of bright light each day.
One study showed office workers who had windows at work slept better at night than those who didn’t. If you work in a windowless workplace, try eating your lunch outside and getting plenty of outdoor time after work.
Let’s Get Physical
Getting a few minutes of exercise each day, even just 15 minutes, can help you get better sleep quality. It doesn’t have to be anything hard -- you can go for a low-speed bike ride or a nature walk. Or go ahead and put on those old-school Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda workout videos. I won’t judge you.
Check Out Weighted Blankets
They aren’t the answer for everyone, but a lot of people have found comfort and better sleep from weighted blankets.
They can help people with insomnia, Restless Leg Syndrome, autism, and other conditions as well. They can ease your sense of loneliness by providing that deep touch many find comforting.
If you want to try one, stick with one that weighs about 10 percent of your body weight.
Raise That Body Temperature
Taking a hot shower or bath might help you reach that elusive deep sleep. You’ll artificially increase your body temperature. After it begins to drop after your shower, your body takes that cooling down effect as a sign it is time for sleep.
The change in body temperature is a key piece in your circadian rhythm, which is the process that helps you feel awake or tired.
To make that shower most effective at making you tired, do it 90 minutes before your bedtime.
Get Rid of the Screens
Watching tv in the evening isn’t going to keep you up all night. But bright lights on screens on your computer and phone right before bed might be too stimulating visually and mentally to calm down from.
Many of us get fired up over social media posts and worry about work emails if we check them too late at night. Try to wean yourself away from screen time an hour before bed.
Focus on the Environment in Your Bedroom
Have you ever tried to go to sleep in a place where there were a lot of distractions? It probably didn’t work so well.
Bedrooms should be soothing havens for relaxing and improving sleep quality. Opt for a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees. Use an eye shade or blackout curtains to reduce the amount of light you see. You can also consider using a white noise machine or a fan to drown out any distracting noises.
By paying attention to your sleep environment, you can set the stage for drifting off and staying that way for longer.
Sleep On It
By finding ways to get better sleep, you’ll be taking a powerful step toward improving your mental and physical health.
It may take some work, but with a little commitment, you can sleep longer and harder each night. Your body and your mind will both thank you.