Good physical and emotional health starts with a good night of sleep. Not getting enough sleep each night can cause memory issues, mood changes, an increase in accidents or injuries, a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, among other things.
What Makes a Great Night of Sleep?
A great night of sleep typically consists of these three distinct aspects:
The Quantity of Sleep
Although the amount of time each person needs to sleep varies, it's recommended that older adults get 7-8 hours of nightly sleep, with adolescents needing around 9-10 hours.
The Quality of Sleep
In most cases, a better night of sleep may increase your capacity to exercise by increasing motivation, duration and frequency of physical activity.
A better diet can also help improve your quality of sleep. Studies have shown that a diet high in fiber can increase deep sleep, whereas high amounts of sugar and fat can cause you to sleep poorly.
If you don't feel rested during the day, try incorporating a short nap (only about 20 minutes) into your day. A short nap will keep you from experiencing the deeper sleep stages so you can still sleep well that night.
The Timing of Your Sleep
The timing of sleep is important because humans are diurnal, meaning they should be awake during the day and asleep at night. Chronotype is the biological preference to be more of a "night owl" or "early bird" and is dependent on many factors.
Around 15% of the population are morning chronotypes ("early birds"), 15% are evening chronotypes ("night owls"), and 70% fall in between. Research has shown that those who are "night owls" tend to have more sleep problems. If you fall into that category, try to create a bedtime routine to ensure adequate time to relax by reading a book, stretching, writing a to-do list, or practicing breathing exercises.
8 Tips for a Better Night's Sleep
If you find it difficult to get a good night of sleep, here are some suggestions you can try that will change your sleep habits and promote a satisfying, restful slumber.
1. Think About Your Diet
Diet is one of the biggest things that can impact your sleep. Foods that promote sleep include apples, peaches, cherries, bananas, brown rice, popcorn, oatmeal, beans, potatoes, fish, lean meat, eggs, avocados, and nuts.
Avoid acidic or spicy foods, large meals close to bedtime, and caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) late in the day. Before bed, relax with a glass of warm milk or a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea to stimulate drowsiness.
2. Exercise During the Day
It doesn't have to be anything strenuous - any aerobic activity will release chemicals in your body to support a better night of sleep. Try swimming or water exercises, dancing, golf, bicycling, or just take a walk.
3. Get Outside
Getting out into the fresh air and bright sunshine regulates your body's natural circadian rhythm. If this internal timekeeping system is out of whack, it can affect your sleep-wake cycle.
4. Find a Routine that Works for You
Getting into the same habits every night will train your body that it's time to wind down and go to sleep. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, fall asleep in the same position, take a warm bath, just try to find a routine that works for you.
5. Create the Right Sleep Environment
Create the right sleep environment. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Turn off the television and leave your phone or tablet out of reach, as these have a blue light that can negatively impact your sleep. Sleep in a comfy bed, not on the couch or recliner.
Improving your sleep habits will help you live a longer, healthier and happier life. And there's no better place to live the good life than in a Moorings Park community. Contact us today to learn more about our communities.