Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise.
Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your brain function, hormones, and physical performance.
It can also increase the risk of disease and cause weight gain in adults and children.
In contrast, getting good sleep can help you eat less, exercise, and be healthier.
In recent decades, the sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people sleep regularly.
If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, one of the most important things you can do is a good night’s sleep.
Here are 4 factual tips to help you sleep better at night.
1. During the day, increase exposure to bright light
Your body has a natural clock called as the circadian rhythm.
It affects your brain, body, and hormones, helping you stay awake and signaling your body when it’s time to sleep.
During the day, natural sunlight or bright light helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as the duration and quality of nighttime sleep.
In people with insomnia, daytime exposure to bright light improved the quality and duration of sleep. It also reduced the time to fall asleep by 83%.
A similar study in older adults found that exposure to bright light for 2 hours during the day increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80%.
While most of the research is on people with severe sleep problems, daily exposure to light will likely help even if you have average sleep.
Try to get in the sun daily or, if that is not practical, invest in a device or artificial light bulbs that provide bright light.
2. Reduce exposure to blue light at night.
Daytime light exposure is beneficial, but exposure to nighttime light has the opposite effect.
This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and sleep properly.
Blue light – which electronic devices like computers and smartphones emit in large quantities – is the worst.
There are several popular methods to reduce exposure to blue light at night. These include:
- Wear glasses that block blue light.
- Download an app like f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer.
- On your smartphone, install an app that blocks blue light. These are available for iPhone and Android models.
- Stop watching TV and turn off all bright lights 2 hours before bed.
3. At the end of the day, don’t consume caffeine
Caffeine has many benefits and is consumed by 90% of the American population.
A single dose can improve athletic performance, energy and focus.
However, when consumed late in the day, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and can prevent your body from naturally relaxing at night.
In one study, consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bedtime dramatically deteriorated the quality of sleep.
Caffeine can stay high in your blood for 6 to 8 hours. Therefore, drink large amounts of coffee after 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you are caffeine sensitive or have trouble in sleeping.
If you fancy a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, opt for decaffeinated coffee.
4. During the day, reduce irregular or long naps.
While short naps are beneficial, long or irregular naps during the day can interfere with your sleep.
Sleeping during the day can disrupt your internal clock, which means you might have trouble sleeping at night.
In fact, in one study, participants ended up getting more sleep during the day after taking daytime naps.
Another study noted that while a nap of 30 minutes or less can improve brain function during the day, longer naps can adversely affect sleep health and quality.
However, some studies show that those who are used to taking regular naps during the day do not have poor sleep quality or disturbed sleep at night.
If you regularly take naps during the day and sleep well, don’t worry. The nap effects depend on the individual.