Sleep disturbances, characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, affect numerous people worldwide. Its consequences extend beyond mere fatigue, as chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues such as heart diseases, diabetes, and cognitive impairment.
However, the good news is that this frustrating situation can be addressed. Read below for a number of practical and proven strategies to overcome sleep disturbances.
1. Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule
Our bodies operate on a biological clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Adhering to a consistent sleep schedule—going to bed and waking up at the same time every day—can support a healthy biological clock and promote better sleep. Stick to your sleep schedule even on weekends to avoid disrupting your biological clock.
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2. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Our sleep environment significantly impacts the quality of our sleep. Ensure that your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool, as these conditions can enhance sleep quality. Use blackout curtains if needed, consider earplugs, or use white noise if necessary. Choose a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bedding to improve your sleep quality.
3. Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Engaging in regular physical activity can help us fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. However, timing is crucial—exercise should be done earlier in the day and not right before bedtime, as late-night exercise can disrupt sleep. Try to finish your workout at least three hours before sleep.
4. Manage Stress and Anxiety
Worries and excessive thoughts can be serious barriers to sleep. (1) Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also proven effective in treating sleep disturbances, addressing the thoughts and behaviors that hinder sleep.
5. Avoid Napping
While a short nap may seem like a great way to compensate for lost sleep, it can interfere with your nighttime sleep. If you must nap, limit it to 20 to 30 minutes.
6. Monitor Eating and Drinking Habits
Going to bed hungry or too full can disrupt sleep. Avoid large meals close to bedtime. Similarly, steer clear of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, as they can interfere with sleep.
7. Establish a Bedtime Routine
A calming routine before bedtime can signal to our bodies that it’s time to relax and go to sleep. This can include activities like reading, taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or gentle stretching.
8. Limit Screen Time Before Bed
The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, computers, and TVs can disrupt sleep. Try to turn off these devices at least one hour before bedtime to prepare your brain for sleep. (2)
In conclusion, incorporating these tips into your routine can significantly improve your sleep quality and help reduce nighttime awakenings. Remember that consistency is key, and it may take time for your body to adjust to these changes. If sleep disturbances persist, consult a healthcare professional for further guidance.