As we head into the New Year, most people are thinking about which New Year’s Resolutions they want to make. One of the top New Year’s Resolutions always has to do with improving one’s health. Considering sleep is one of the factors that can contribute to your overall health, it only makes sense to add getting better sleep to your list of New Year’s Resolutions. Getting better quality sleep will help you feel better mentally, give you more energy, make focusing and concentration easier, and improve your overall health and life! If you want to make your health a priority in the new year, consider these tips to get a better night of sleep.
1. Increase Daytime Bright Light Exposure
If your body doesn’t have time to wake up during the day, it’s only going to make it harder to fall asleep at night. Sunlight and bright lights have an effect on your body’s natural clock – the circadian rhythm. When you’re exposed to bright or natural light during the day, it energizes the body and helps with falling and staying asleep at night. Just two hours of bright light exposure during the day has proven to improve sleep efficiency by 80%. If you’re unable to sit by a window or spend two hours outside per day, consider investing in a bright light to use while you’re inside during the day. Then, once the sun goes down, begin dimming your lights.
2. Reduce Blue Light Exposure Before Bed
While you should increase bright light exposure during the day, you should also decrease blue light exposure by the end of the day. Blue light exposure at night can reduce your body’s production of melatonin which affects your ability to fall asleep. The body associates blue light with daytime so when it’s exposed at night, it doesn’t think it’s time for your body to go to sleep. Electronic devices like phones and computers emit the most blue light. We recommend using a blue light filter on your device (night mode) if you want to use them before bed. Otherwise, try to avoid electronic devices an hour or two before bedtime to increase your quality of sleep.
3. Watch Your Caffeine Consumption
It’s okay to drink caffeine every morning to help wake up. However, if you drink caffeine too late in the day or in too high of quantities, it can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is because caffeine stimulates the nervous system which can prevent you from relaxing. Caffeine can stay in the bloodstream for 6 to 8 hours. With that in mind, try to stop drinking caffeine before 3 to 4 pm, depending on your bedtime.
4. Reduce or Stop Taking Naps
If you take naps on a regular basis because you didn’t sleep well at night, your nap is what’s likely causing the poor sleep quality. To improve your quality of sleep at night, resist the urge to take a nap and instead go to bed earlier. Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night so you no longer feel the need to nap in the middle of the day. If you do take a nap, try to keep it to 30 minutes or less to prevent messing up your nightly quality of sleep.
5. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Your body’s natural cycle is set to a loop that usually follows the sunrise and sunset. By waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, it will help improve your quality of sleep over time. This means you go to bed and wake up at the same time during the weekend as you do during the week. Once you get into this routine, you might not even need an alarm clock anymore.
6. Optimize Your Bedroom For Sleep
Let’s start with your bedroom temperature. If it’s too hot or too cold, you won’t sleep well. Find a temperature that feels comfortable to you and keep it there. Most people prefer a temperature between 66 and 70 degrees.
In addition to finding the ideal temperature, it’s also helpful to optimize your lighting situation. If it’s too bright in your room, it might wake you up at night. It might be helpful to get blackout curtains to darken your room.
If you’re a light sleeper, it might also be helpful to find background noise to listen to while you sleep. You can opt for a white noise machine, nature sounds, or even turn on a fan for background noise.
Lastly, make sure your mattress, sheets, and pillow are allowing you to feel most comfortable. A new mattress or pillow can do wonders for your quality of sleep.
7. Exercise Daily
Just getting in a short daily walk can do wonders for your sleep. Whether you commit to daily exercise or just a few times a week, it can improve your sleep and stress levels dramatically. Studies show that regular exercise improves all factors that go into the quality of sleep. Just make sure you don’t exercise too late in the day or it might make it more difficult to fall asleep.
8. Get Sleep Apnea Treatment
The last way you can improve your quality of sleep next year is by getting sleep apnea treatment. If you go to bed early and get your recommended amount of sleep every night but still wake up feeling tired and unable to concentrate, you might have a sleep disorder that’s affecting your quality of sleep. If sleep apnea is the culprit, you will need an effective treatment option to not only improve your quality of sleep but reduce the health risks associated with the condition. Sleep apnea is when an obstructed airway causes the body to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night. Treatment is essential to keep the airway open and to allow for uninterrupted sleep.
At Bite Align, our Fort Atkinson sleep dentist, Dr. Stafford, can help you get diagnosed with sleep apnea if you don’t already have a diagnosis. Once you’re diagnosed, she will evaluate your airways and create a custom sleep apnea treatment plan that will allow you to sleep snore-free and help you get a good night of sleep. Make next year the year you improve your quality of sleep and overall health. Contact us at (920) 563-7323 to book an appointment and get started.