Habits of Successful Sleep

The average American gets 7-8 hours of sleep per night, with an average bedtime at 10:55pm. That’s a good question. Why is it that I still walk around like zombies if caffeine only lasts for about four hours?

Despite sleeping for the recommended number of hours per night, many Americans don’t feel well-rested because they’re not getting quality sleep. You should consider implementing some changes to improve your sleep quality. More than 3/4 of the people in America report their sleep quality as being below average. Nearly nine million Americans use sleep aids.

Habits of Successful Sleep

If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, there are healthy ways to improve your sleep quality. Try cutting back on caffeine and alcohol in the evenings, getting regular exercise, and including things that relax you before bedtime. 

Mindfulness activities like meditation are also a good idea for those who want a little variety in their lives. The environment I sleep in and how I go about my daily routine can play a huge role in the quality of sleep I get. If you make a few simple changes, you’ll be catching those zzz’s before you know it!

Infographic displaying habits that produce high quality sleep versus low quality sleep

Dial in Your Sleeping Environment

The most effective way to train my bodies to sleep well is by going to bed only when sleepy and immediately getting into a sleep routine. Watching TV or answering emails in bed leads the body to associate the ting with arousal, which can make it more difficult for us to fall asleep. Pets in bed can be great for snuggling, but 53% of people who sleep with their pets say that their pets have a negative impact on their sleep. Also, if you recently moved in with your partner, learning one another’s sleep schedules and evening routines is really important to dial in.

Look around your bedroom. You should adjust your thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Most people prefer sleeping at a temperature somewhere in the range of 60-75 degrees. You also want to make sure there is no ambient noise in the room so your brain can rest. 

Any sounds you hear during sleep like a ticking clock for example will cause an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. Sleep experts have found that exposure to light during sleep may disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm. If your bedroom currently only has sheer curtains hanging up, consider getting a thicker curtain to pair with it. It’s recommended to get blackout curtains for your bedroom, because they can reduce ambient light by 99.5%.

The bed is arguably the most important part of your sleeping environment. Your mattress and bedding all play a part in your quality of sleep, so make sure to buy the ones that work for you. This includes a comfortable mattress, sheets, pillow cases, and even comforters.

Create Positive Sleeping Habits

You should start your day with natural light in order to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Open the blinds first thing in the morning and take regular breaks outside throughout the day to help balance the amount of sunlight you get.

Next, if you’re not already, make exercising a part of your daily routine. Doing it at the right time of day can help improve your sleep quality. Intelligent people, like athletes and other professionals with high-demand jobs, are at a higher risk of problems like difficulty sleeping or disturbed sleep. A way to avoid this is to finish your workout 3 hours before bedtime to allow the body time for recovery.

Woman sleeping in a bed in the morning

Having a bedtime routine and sticking to it can help minimize stress and improve the quality of sleep. One way to calm and relax yourself before bed is to do something that sends you into a relaxed state. Examples include taking a bath, reading, or meditating. It’s also important to make proving an adequate amount of sleep for your body consistent. 

That said, if you aren’t in dire need of sleep and just trying to catch some z’s, then forcing yourself to lie in bed until you fall asleep can actually have a negative effect. It can trigger stress hormones that bring about more wakefulness.

Avoid eating right before bed – digestion may keep you awake. A light snack, like fruit or cherries, could help you sleep better if you need one.

Sleep is something you learn with time, but it’s possible to make it better in your sleep hours. Who knows, maybe you can even cut down on the amount of coffee you need in the mornings.

Remove Poor Sleeping Habits

You may not realize it, but several aspects of your daily routine can lower your sleep quality. For example, caffeine stimulates adrenaline production and reduces sleep quality; so you might want to rethink that afternoon cappuccino. Some people might assume that a glass of wine or a cocktail before bed will help them sleep. 

At first, alcohol does act as a sedative and can help release the natural chemical, GABA, which is known to induce sleepiness. The problem is that blood alcohol levels drop later on in the night and this can lead to you waking up.

One of the things you might be tempted to do after a long day at work is take a nap at the office. However, studies have shown that this is not recommended. Instead, it’s best to take short naps and make it before 5pm.

A whopping 79% of people close their eyes with their phone still in hand and are continuously scrolling through emails or social media. Electronic devices and cell phones emit a type of blue light that prevents your body from making melatonin, which is the hormone that induces sleep. When you’re using these devices in the hour before you go to bed, it can be harder for you to fall asleep.

There are many reasons for sleep disturbances and stress is one of the most common causes. High levels of cortisol can lead to insomnia, so avoid work emails and challenging reading in the time after dinner and before bed.