Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise, nutrition and the science behind them, which are my areas of expertise, but I also talk about sleeping habits, minimalism and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.
There are many people around the world who suffer from insomnia and other diseases related to sleep deprivation. In Australia more than half of adults are suffering from at least one chronic sleep symptom that is interfering with their health and their capability to live a happy life. The prevalence of chronic insomnia was 14.8% with a staggering 59.4% who report experiencing at least one sleep symptom three or more times per week as for August 2021. Almost half the people (48.8%) assure that their routine does not provide adequate opportunity to sleep appropriately. You can find this and more information in the Sleep Health Foundation website:
Our busy lifestyle doesn’t allow us to sleep properly, but there is so much we can do to maximise our chances of getting enough rest. Even those people who must interrupt their sleep to feed a baby can benefit from these tips!
- Avoid using your devices before going to sleep.
A bit further down I have shared one of my other posts about how to avoid your devices before going to sleep, and why you should do it. To summarise, our devices have two problems that can cause sleep disruptions, even though you don’t suffer from insomnia or other sleep related issues. One of them is the blue light. The blue light is great to be exposed to in the morning. It tells our body that it’s wake up time, and assists to start the melatonin cycle, the hormone that puts us to sleep at night. When we expose ourselves to this light in the afternoon or at night, we’re transmitting the same message to our brain, therefore it makes it difficult for us to fall asleep and stay asleep.
The second problem coming from the use of devices before going to sleep is the dopamine. Dopamine is a great hormone that has many good effects in our body, but it can be our worst enemy when it comes to sleep. When we are excited about something happening the day after it’s much more difficult to fall asleep, and this is because our dopamine is in its highest levels. When we use our phone we get dopamine rushes: you get 1000 likes on Insta, you get a message from the person you like, you get an email saying that you have been accepted to study or work in a particular place. These are good things that may make you happy, but you’ll be much better off finding out in the morning to start your day rather than not being capable of having enough sleep.
- Do not have caffeine after lunch.
As a coffee lover, I do not spend a day without having at least one coffee in the morning. Having coffee has lots of benefits. Check out the link below if you want to find out more!
Caffeine reaches its peak 30-60 minutes after the intake, and its effects last for 3-5 hours. Our body takes a good deal of time to eliminate completely the caffeine from the body, up to 12 hours. Thus, it’s not recommended to have coffee as the day goes on and you’re getting closer to bedtime. To make it easy to remember, you shouldn’t drink coffee after lunch if you want to ensure a good night’s sleep.
If you love your coffee because of the flavour there’s the option of having a decaf. Bear in mind though that even decaf has at leas 4% caffeine, so perhaps it’s not the best idea the last couple of hours of the day.
- Keep your room as quiet, dark, and cool as possible.
When we are sleeping our body temperature decreases approximately 1 Celsius degree. This decrease starts as we approach bedtime and it reaches its lowest point in the middle of the night. This naturally occurring process is essential ensure a good night’s sleep. These days we have many things that help us staying warm on a winter night: heaters, thick blankets, and electric blankets. It’s great to go to sleep on a warm bed, and I am the first one who has needed an electric blanket this winter, but you must always turn all these items off before you fall asleep.
As well as a low temperature, it’s important to make sure that the room is free of light or noise, for obvious reasons. A noise can potentially wake us up, and same happens with light. When it comes to being exposed to lights at night, it’s preferable to have a red light rather than a bright light. It’s not very difficult to find a dimmer light in your usual shops.
- Avoid eating large amounts of food 2 hours before going to sleep.
We all have had that feeling of restlessness the day after eating a large meal for dinner, plus sometimes we wake up completely covered in sweat. When we eat our body starts the digestion process. This process starts as early as you start thinking of the food you’re about to eat. It’s absolutely fine to have something little before going to sleep, such as a yogurt or a little piece of fruit, but if you have a proper meal, your body will need to finalise the digestion before it allows you to fall asleep or stay asleep. To digest food our body requires energy and a little increase of temperature, which we know now it’s not the best for a good night’s sleep.
Allow at least 1 hour but preferably 2 after your last big meal of the day before you go to sleep. This means, if you normally go to sleep at 10 pm, your last large meal should be not later than 8 pm.
- Avoid liquids 30 minutes to 1 hour before going to sleep.
Especially if you have trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night, avoid drinking anything in that period of time. This way you will avoid the potential unpleasant visit to the toilet in the middle of the night.
- Avoid moderate to vigorous exercise 2 hours before going to sleep.
Moderate to vigorous exercise is an excellent tool for a healthy lifestyle and to enhance sleep, but not in the last hours before going to sleep. Despite the fact that it hasn’t been discovered how exercising during the day enhances sleep, it has been broadly proved that it can alter your ability to fall asleep if you do it right before bed. This is because certain hormones, such as dopamine, have been released, plus your body remains in the “fight-or-flight” state that exercising provokes for a while until it goes back to normal (called homeostasis).
Other type of exercises such as stretching, meditation, or yoga, can be a good ally to improve your sleep hygiene.
- Do something relaxing the last hour or two before going to sleep.
There are many activities you can do to relax and unwind in the last hour or two before going to sleep. Every one should be able to find their own, but for me, doing some gentle stretches, brushing my teeth and washing my face, have some relaxing time with my husband and cats, and reading a book are my must do’s to have a great night’s sleep.
- Do not get obsessed.
This is perhaps the most important thing to do. If you get obsessed you’ll start ruminating non stop, and this will make it impossible to fall asleep. Don’t think about the fact that you’re not sleeping, and stop thinking how miserable you’ll be the next day because of this, because this is going to make you enter in and endless circle.
It’s not easy to do so, and perhaps you’ll need professional help.
Today’s post is a summary of the best tips to start having a better sleep hygiene. In this blog, we have many posts that dig deeper into this topic.
One of the first and more successful posts was about the importance of having good sleeping habits and how it affects our health:
The following two are all about how to get your bedroom and yourself ready for bedtime:
Last but not least, a few ideas to stay away from your phone at night, avoiding the blue light and the dopamine rush from all those likes and the message from your crush:
Check them all out!
I wanted to finish this post by saying something a bit harsh. If you’re not willing to make some changes in your lifestyle such these ones I shared with you in order to have a better sleep, stop complaining about how tired you are or how bad you sleep. These 8 little tips I have shared are quite easy to implement, and it does not require any money, any physical effort, and you do not need to stop caring for your children or others in order to follow them. Some of you would think that before bed is the only time you have to check your WhatsApp or other socials, or that you get home so late that you need to eat right before going to sleep. Think twice when you say that: do you think there’s other things more important than your socials, such as your own health? Do you think you can just wait until breakfast rather than binge eating before going to bed? I do not think you are going to die for not having dinner, and most of the time it’s not hunger what you feel. But that’s a subject for another blog!
That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoy it. If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment! Should you have feedback you’d like to leave, a comment to share with me, or a cool idea for a post, send me an email to email@example.com