Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem in the 21st century. According to the World Sleep Society, approximately 40% of adults in Europe are sleep-deprived, which equates to 1 in 3 adults. In this article, we will be discussing why is it so important to build healthy sleep habits and how they can help you overcome your sleep problems.
Why having a sufficient amount of sleep is so important?
Sleep deprivation can have significant effects on our minds. Not getting enough sleep disrupts the natural functioning and processes of the brain, leading to various cognitive and emotional changes.
- Slowed thought processes: Sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration, making it difficult to focus and pay attention.
- Bad memory: Sleep is essential for transforming new information into memories. If your sleep is cut short or disrupted, it can interfere with these cycles, leading to memory problems.
- Difficulty learning: Sleep deprivation can make it difficult to focus and pick up new information.
- Mood swings: Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings, irritability, and difficulty regulating emotions.
What happens to our brains when we don’t get enough sleep?
Insufficient sleep tends to increase brain activity, thus our brain lacks time to rest and recharge, resulting in increased alertness that hinders falling asleep and negatively impacts concentration and focus.
Sleep deprivation can also interfere with the body’s melatonin production in the pineal gland.
The pineal gland responds to darkness by increasing melatonin production and reducing it in light conditions, thereby regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Insufficient sleep limits melatonin production, making falling asleep and maintaining sleep patterns difficult.
How to build healthy sleep habits?
When it comes to improving your sleep, it can be challenging, especially if you’re unsure where to begin. Resisting the urge to change everything at once is crucial. The most effective approach lies in the small steps you take towards better daily habits, as they often result in the most significant long-term improvements.
Sleep habits consist of routines and practices that help us get a good night’s sleep. They include things like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, getting plenty of sunlight, creating a sleep routine, and making sure our bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
1. Daylight is needed
Exposure to morning sunlight plays a crucial role in resetting our internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm, and enhancing our alertness. This effect is attributed to the sunlight’s ability to suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleepiness. Melatonin levels are naturally higher during nighttime when light is scarce.
By obtaining a sufficient amount of sunlight in the morning, our circadian rhythm can be adjusted, leading to feeling tired at night and more awake during the day. Consequently, this adjustment promotes easier and more consistent sleep patterns, which greatly contributes to better sleep quality.
What can be done:
To ensure a well-regulated sleep-wake cycle, it is recommended to receive a minimum of 30 minutes of natural light exposure daily. Stepping outside early in the morning while savoring our first cup of coffee is a great idea.
2. Change your diet
Eating processed foods often can influence your sleep. Some of the so-called “junk foods” not only have large quantities of sugar but also lack essential vitamins and minerals we as humans are supposed to consume from whole foods.
- Vitamins and minerals are essential for many bodily functions, including sleep. For example, magnesium is a mineral that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Antioxidants play a crucial role in safeguarding our bodies from damage caused by free radicals. These unstable molecules have the potential to damage cells and tissues and have been linked to sleep problems.
What can be done:
- Eat healthy: Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Choose whole grains: Whole grains are a good source of fiber and other essential nutrients. Choose whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa instead of processed grains.
- Eat lean protein: Including lean protein in your meals provides a good source of energy and can contribute to better sleep. Opt for grilled chicken, fish, or tofu instead of red meat.
- Limit processed foods: Processed foods are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and calories. heir consumption can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to potential sleep disturbances
- Drink plenty of water: Water is fundamental for maintaining good health and can also help to improve sleep quality. Aim to drink eight glasses of water per day to stay hydrated and support overall well-being
3. Try to reduce external noise while sleeping
Noise can indeed disrupt the ability to fall asleep, lead to interruptions during sleep, and reduce the overall quality of sleep. This is because noise can activate the body’s stress response, making it hard to relax and initiate sleep. Even seemingly gentle sounds, such as traffic noise or the ticking of a clock, can disrupt sleep. A quiet sleep environment is crucial for promoting deep sleep, making it one of the most significant healthy sleep habits to build.
What can be done:
Mitigating disruptive noise: Buy a pair of earplugs or a white noise machine. Earplugs are an excellent choice for people who are sensitive to noise, while the white noise machine will only mask undesirable sounds.
Reducing blue light: All of our electronics emit blue light which can interfere with our sleep close to bedtime. The main natural source of blue light is the sun, and exposure to this light sends signals to our brains that it is time to be awake and alert. It’s recommended to avoid electronics usage at least 30 min before going to bed. That is also a healthy sleep habit more people should build in the present day.
4. Set your room temperature between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius
Maintaining an optimal body temperature is essential for a good night’s sleep. When your body temperature is too high or too low, it can make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. During sleep, your body’s temperature naturally drops, and if your bedroom is too hot or too cold, it can interfere with this natural process.
Ideal temperature: The ideal bedroom temperature for promoting good sleep is typically between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius. This temperature range allows your body to cool down naturally as you fall asleep, which is essential for maintaining a restful sleep.
What can be done:
Set your thermostat: Setting your thermostat to a comfortable level will help you with creating a sleep-friendly environment. You may need to experiment a bit to find the perfect temperature.
Use bedding strategically: Using bedding as a technique is an excellent way to regulate your body temperature for more comfortable sleep. For example, adding an extra blanket or wearing warmer pajamas can help you keep cozy if you’re feeling cold. On the other hand, if you’re feeling hot, removing a layer or wearing lighter pajamas can promote a cooler sleep experience.
5. Invest in a quality bedroom
Choosing the perfect Bed is essential for ensuring restful sleep. The bed frame serves as the foundation for everything – from influencing the bed’s size to providing support for the mattress.
Here are some compelling reasons why you should prioritize choosing the right bed frame:
- Airflow: A bed frame that doesn’t allow for good airflow can make the mattress feel hot and uncomfortable.
- Noise: A bed frame that squeaks or creaks can be noisy and disrupt your sleep.
- Look: The bed frame plays a significant role in bedroom décor. Selecting a bed frame that you like enhances the overall look and feel of your sleep space.
What can be done:
When choosing a bed frame, keep these key factors in mind: size, bedroom style, quality of materials, and adjustable features. Consider the size of the bed frame that suits your needs, opt for a frame that is made from high-quality materials so it lasts longer, and a final recommendation – look for a bed frame that is easily adjustable in different positions as this can help with back pain.
Ergomotion’s smart beds offer all of the above aspects and even more. Their beds’ specific design and innovative features cater to the needs for a good night’s sleep and provide additional benefits for improved comfort and d recovery after a hard day.
Certainly, the best way to find yourself the perfect bed is to try it out first and consider all the different options and sizes.
Choosing a mattress
Your mattress provides both comfort and support for your body, so a mattress that suits your needs is an important part of a sleep-friendly bedroom. While sleeping, the body weight is evenly distributed across the mattress, which helps to prevent pain and discomfort. A good mattress also helps to keep your spine in alignment, which is important for overall health.
If you have an older mattress, you may want to consider investing in a new one. You can also adjust your bed’s comfort level with a mattress topper. When choosing a new mattress, it is important to consider your sleeping position, body type, and personal preferences. With the click of a button on your Ergomotion’s smart bed, you can adjust your bed to whatever position you feel comfortable in order to get the most out of your sleep.
Choosing a Pillow
A pillow plays a fundamental role in supporting your upper body and maintaining proper sleep posture while sleeping on your, it’s essential to have a pillow that is thick enough to keep your head properly aligned with your spine. This prevents long-term misalignment and supports a healthy sleep position. However, using a pillow that is too thick can cause you pain because your head is excessively tilted back, and it can strain your neck causing you discomfort.
If your current pillow feels uncomfortable or lacks support, it may be time to shop for a new one. Your sleeping position and personal preferences will determine what pillow is right for you. With plenty of options to choose from, you can try out different pillows in a store to find one that is comfortable and supportive for you.
6. Avoid alcoholic beverages before bedtime
Alcohol has a significant impact on sleep quality and overall restfulness. It disrupts the normal cycle of sleep, causing more frequent awakenings during the night, leading to a difficult good night’s sleep and decreased sleep quality. This means you won’t get enough deep sleep, the phase for muscle and body recovery, which will make you feel tired the day after.
What can be done:
Stop drinking at least an hour before going to bed: If you are accustomed to having a drink before bed you should consider readjusting your habit a couple of hours before laying in bed or significantly reducing the amount consumed.
Chose a non-alcoholic beverage: Many non-alcoholic drinks exist solely for this purpose. With them, you will not only get your dosage of sleep but also you won’t miss any social aspect of drinking. On top of that, you will follow a healthy habit not only for your body but also for your sleep.
7. Avoid caffeine before bed
Caffeine is a stimulant that can significantly disrupt your sleeping schedule when consumed close to bedtime. The effects of caffeine can last up to 8 hours making it extremely hard to fall asleep.
Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors – neurotransmitters that make us feel sleepy. After caffeine consumption, adenosine can’t build up, consequently making us feel not so tired. However, once the effects of caffeine wear off, adenosine can accumulate, leading to a “caffeine crash”. Making us even more tired than before consuming our cup of coffee.
What can be done:
If your goal is to improve your sleep, the best option here is to avoid caffeine in the evening hours, this way your body will have the time to properly process it so you won’t have any trouble sleeping at night.
On the other hand, you should be aware that there are a lot of foods and drinks which contain caffeine and should also be avoided before going to bed. For example, chocolate, tea, energy drinks, colas, and even some medications. Not Avoiding caffeine right before going to bed could be the sole reason why you can’t get a good night’s sleep. This could be the most beneficial healthy sleep habit for you.
It’s important to note that not everyone should worry about the small amounts of caffeine, everyone has a different body and metabolism and some people are more resistant to caffeine than others.
8. Try aromatherapy
Some types of smells like lavender are associated with calming effects that may positively impact sleep. The aroma from lavender oil is considered the most popular aroma that reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation.
Chamomile – which has a calming effect that can help you fall asleep faster.
Ylang-ylang– which is a floral essential oil that has a sedative and relaxing effect.
Melissa– which is an essential oil that is often used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
9. Build a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Humans are habitual creatures, we are prone to do things that follow a certain pattern of behavior. That’s why the most important healthy sleep habit is having and following the same night routine. This routine can signal our brains that is time to sleep, thus making it easy for us to fall asleep.
What can be done:
You can choose different steps to follow before going to bed. For example, you can start by brushing your teeth, making your bed, putting on your comfortable pajamas, and turning the lights off. By doing that consistently, your mind and body will start to feel relaxed and you will fall asleep easier every time you start doing your ritual.
How do healthy sleep habits benefit us?
Healthy sleep habits can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Here are some of the benefits of getting enough sleep:
Improved cognitive function: Sleep helps to consolidate memories and improve our ability to learn and process information. When we don’t get enough sleep, our cognitive function can suffer, leading to problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making.
Good sleep habits help us manage our emotions. When well-rested, we’re better able to cope with stress and manage our emotions. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can lead to mood swings, irritability, and anxiety.
Sleep helps our bodies fight off illness. When we sleep, our bodies produce immune cells that help us fight off infection. Sleep deprivation can weaken our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness.
Sleep gives us energy and makes us more productive. When we’re well-rested, we’re more likely to be productive and motivated. We’re also better able to focus and concentrate, which can lead to improved performance at work or school.
The most common signs are – excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, trouble concentrating, memory problems, and mood swings.
Good sleep habits that can help with lack of sleep can be: establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, ensuring a dark, quiet, and cool bedroom, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and establishing a regular sleep schedule.
There are many natural remedies that can help to improve sleep quality. Some of them include chamomile tea, magnesium, valerian, melatonin, lavender essential oil, and regular exercise.
The most common causes include stress, anxiety, medication, sleep habits, and different disorders.