Okay, now you understand the incredible benefits of regular quality sleep (and if you don’t, you can read this article now).
If you have experienced an accident,injury or illness, an Occupational Therapist (OT) can help you regain a good sleep cycle.
There are also lots of things you can do yourself. So, let’s look at how you can get better sleep. These tips come to you from expert research.
So let’s take a look at seven evidence-based tips on how to get better sleep.
1. Shorten your Screen Time
The digital age has provided us with some fantastic life-enhancing tools. However, quality sleep is one aspect of life that the computer, tablet, or phone screen has not helped with.
Several studies by Fonken and colleagues in 2010 have shown direct links between using screens at night and reducing your brain’s capacity to power down. This research also showed correlations between “blue light” and disrupted metabolism and diet.
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Using a screen late in the day or evening affects your natural circadian rhythm by tricking your brain into believing it is still daytime. The result is hormones such as melatonin, which helps you relax, get delayed.
In 2018, Tähkämö, Partonen, and Pesonen found that you should cut back on screen use two to three hours before bed. Alternatively, use blue-light-blocking glasses if you cannot do without your screen in the evening. In addition, try not to use a screen in your bedroom or while in bed.
2. Consider when you Drink your Coffee
Coffee is just a great-tasting drink; however it is a stimulant with caffeine, which helps you stay awake. As such, you should avoid drinking coffee later in the day, and aim to consume your last cup at least six hours before you plan to sleep.
More significantly, in 2013 Drake, Roehrs, Shambroom, and Roth found that caffeine-induced sleep loss can harm your brain and body’s function over several days. Therefore, aim to have coffee at the beginning of your day, and try to cut back the closer you plan to go to sleep.
3. Self-Regulate your Sleep
One of the best ways to ensure you are getting sufficient slumber is to regulate your sleep, so you get the same amount everyday. Having a regular sleep schedule will regulate your circadian rhythm, making it easier to achieve quality rest. It may be hard with different schedules and plans, but try to get up at the same time on work days and off work days.
Aim to get a regular 7-8 hours of sleep, according to Kecklund’s Sleep study in 1997. Oversleeping may also negatively affect your REM sleep, as described in the 2022 book, research by Physiology, Sleep Stages.
4. Manage your Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that helps prepare you for sleep. Some experts, such as Gholami Fatemeh, have found that managing your melatonin levels through supplements can improve your sleep cycle.
The best effects of melatonin supplements were found for people who had sleep disorders such as insomnia, jet lag, or other chronic sleep-related health conditions. Therefore, you may want to consider managing your melatonin if you struggle to get prolonged quality sleep but consult a physician before taking anything new.
5. Move More to Sleep Well
Regular exercise not only improves your overall health and fitness but will help with your sleep cycle. Dolezal, Neufeld, Boland, Martin and Cooper (2017) found that increasing aerobic exercise is more effective for sleep improvement than sleeping pills.
Another positive benefit of regular exercise, studied by Banno and colleagues in 2018, is reducing stress and anxiety levels, both of which can prevent quality sleep. Movement can help keep you calm and improve your mood, leading to a better night’s sleep.
6. Eat Sensibly to Sleep Soundly
As found in research by Frank et al., (2017) maintaining a healthy diet can positively affect your sleep. Therefore, you should consider what you are eating during the day to sleep soundly at night.
According to Binks and colleagues in 2020, try to maintain a regular eating schedule and avoid skipping meals. Doing so will help regulate your natural rhythms, helping you sleep better.
7. Upgrade your Bed to Improve your Rest
It may seem obvious, but it is worth emphasizing the quality of your bed will influence how good a night’s sleep you get. In 2015, Victor Ancuelle researched mattress quality, finding that memory foam beds produced the best results for quality sleep.
This area of sleep research is complex and fledgling. However, Wong and colleagues (2019) believes memory foam contributes to sleepers maintaining a comfortable temperature and position during sleep.
Cary, Briffa, and McKenna (2019) is an advocate of finding a mattress that suits you. So long as you have a mattress that supports your spine, which you find comfortable and allows you to remain at a balanced temperature, you should achieve quality sleep.
Take the Next Step
Achieving regular and quality sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health. Hopefully, these seven evidence-based tips will help you sleep better and heal faster.