Vigorous exercise is a great way to improve your sleep quality. Think of it as using up your energy during the day so you can feel more tired at night.
Timing is important when it comes to exercise. If you exercise too close to bedtime, then it may have the opposite effect on your sleep and actually make it harder to fall asleep. Exercise in the morning, afternoon, or earlier in the evening to maximize effectiveness.
There are a variety of commonly used substances that can interfere with sleep quality. Try to minimize your consumption of these drugs to improve your sleep.
Caffeine, commonly found in tea, coffee, and soft drinks, is a stimulant that can keep you awake even up to 12 hours after consuming it.
Nicotine, commonly found in cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes, is a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep.
Alcohol might make you sleepy, but it leads to significantly lower quality sleep.
Meals & Fluids
Avoid eating big meals close to bedtime. It can cause stomach upset and heartburn, especially if the food is spicy.
Avoid drinking too many fluids before bedtime. It can cause you to wake up at night and interrupt your sleep to go to the bathroom.
On the other hand, if you have a hard time getting up in the morning, it might be due to dehydration. It can be helpful to set a glass of water next to you at night to drink first thing in the morning.
Sleep Tracking + Experiments
If you’re serious about your sleep, it could be beneficial to invest in a sleep tracking
For example, some fitness bands have sleep tracking features. These devices measure your sleep and try to provide a sleep quality score as well.
Receiving a score alone may not be that helpful, but it can provide useful insight if you run experiments on yourself to see what improves your sleep.
For example, lower the temperature on your thermostat one week and increase it another week and evaluate how your sleep score changes, if at all.
20 Minute Rule
If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, don’t feel like you have to stay there. Reset yourself by leaving, doing something relaxing, and coming back. Make sure that your lights remain dim to keep signaling to your body that it is still bedtime.
Snoring – Sleep Apnea
Snoring can be disruptive to your sleep and that of your partner. While snoring is common, it can actually be life threatening. The biggest risk of snoring is that it could be a sign of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder wherein breathing is interrupted during sleep.
Studies suggest that if you snore, there’s a >50% chance that you might also have sleep
apnea. Sleep apnea can have severe complications, from sleepiness to heart problems to diabetes. Untreated sleep apnea is life threatening!
If you snore loudly and are tired during the day, experience episodes of waking up gasping for breath, or wake up with a dry mouth or a headache, it is important to talk to a doctor about getting screened for sleep apnea.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland at night. It is produced in higher quantities when it is dark, so it is a way of signaling to your circadian rhythm that it’s nighttime.
While it’s not as powerful of a signal as morning light, taking a small amount of melatonin at night can help you get on a regular sleep schedule.
The ideal dosage for daily melatonin is under debate, but a smaller than normal amount may actually have better effects on your sleep schedule.
While most pharmacies typically sell 3-10 milligrams (mg) of melatonin, the ideal dose might be as low as 300 micrograms (mcg), which is equivalent to 0.3 milligrams (mg).