by Katie Ferraro
How would you rate the quality of your sleep? For most of us, it’s safe to say that sleep quality is probably moderate at best. Studies have shown that adults ages 26 to 64 should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night to support overall health, performance and safety. However, it should come as no surprise that studies also show that more than a third of American adults getting much less than the recommended amount. But even if you are among the lucky few that do hit that amount, chances are you can still find yourself waking up in the morning feeling tired rather than energized .
This is likely due to poor sleep quality. Luckily, there are many ways to increase deep sleep, including evaluating your sleep space, shutting down screens and preparing yourself for sleep with a nighttime routine. Read on to discover how to make the most of your time between the sheets.
Evaluate Your Sleep Space
Bright colors, clutter and harsh lighting in your sleep environment could be affecting the quality of your sleep. You should think of your bedroom as a sanctuary, a calm space to get a great night’s sleep. Get into the habit of tidying up your room before you leave the house each day (including making your bed first thing in the morning, which offers additional benefits for your whole day). That way, when you are ready to wind down for the night, you can do so without any additional stressors.
In addition to tidying up, do your best to leave the to-do lists or other stress-inducing things outside of your bedroom, too. Yes, that means no checking email or watching the news in bed!
Shut Down Screens
Not only does shutting down screens help eliminate stress before bed, but it gives your brain a break from blue light. Blue light is a big contributor to the lack of melatonin production and a reason why our sleep may be suffering. This directly impacts the circadian rhythm because it’s sending signals to our brains that we should be awake and alert.
Try making it a habit to put screens away for an hour or so before bed, and pay attention to how you feel in the morning. And, if you’re one to unwind by watching your favorite TV show before bed and not ready to give that up, consider investing in some blue-light-blocking glasses.
Adopt a Relaxing Routine
Replacing your screens with activities like exercising before bed can significantly improve your sleep quality. Pairing some light stretching or yoga with your favorite pair of compression socks can help calm the mind, relax the body and allow melatonin to flow freely, giving you the perfect recipe for a restful night.
While exercising before bed can be beneficial, something to keep in mind here is the type of exercise you’re engaging in. Do your best to avoid high-intensity exercise two to three hours before bed, as that type of activity can promote wakefulness.
Along the lines of blue light, by reducing artificial light as much as possible during your wind-down routine, you’ll be promoting the production of melatonin. Lighting some candles or opting for a bedside lamp with soft light bulbs that you can switch on during your bedtime is so worth it. Your body will thank you in the morning.
Increasing your sleep quality takes practice, but it’s doable for everyone. The biggest key is to stick with it and resist the urge to be distracted by the things killing your sleep.
Katie Ferraro is a writer and group fitness trainer in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing or at the gym, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilderness camping, hiking or backpacking.