If you are experiencing sleeping problems such as trouble with falling asleep or feeling unrefreshed upon waking up, then you probably have a sleep disorder. This is actually a common problem as evident by the fact that around one-quarter of Americans experience sleep problems while up to 10% report insomnia according to the CDC. Considering that sleep is extremely important for your overall health and functioning, addressing any sleep problem you might be having should be the first thing on your priority list. To help you out, we’ve found some scientifically-proven tips to help you establish a healthy sleeping routine.
1. Turn off the Lights
Sleep onset is largely controlled by our circadian rhythm and our circadian rhythm is partially controlled by exposure to light and darkness. According to one study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, exposing yourself to room light before bedtime can severely disrupt the production of the hormone melatonin that is responsible for our feeling of sleepiness. The results of this study were significant as melatonin suppression after exposure to room light was measured to be more than 50% in 99% of the subjects. Furthermore, melatonin production was suppressed for as much as 90 minutes after exposure to room light indicating that it made it harder for people to initiate sleep.
2. Establish a Daily Routine
Although it is a good idea to go to bed at the same time every night to establish a healthy sleep hygiene, you could also improve* your sleep by establishing a daily routine. A recent study that was published in Chronobiology International found that even though good sleepers and insomniacs had the same levels of daily activities, those suffering from insomnia were less regular in their activities. This study was among many that demonstrated the importance of daily routine in circadian rhythm functioning. So, if you want to bring your circadian rhythm back into balance, scheduling your activities at the same time each day may do the trick.
3. Lavender before Bedtime
No matter what your sleep problem may be, lavender may be the cure* according to one study. The study at hand examined the effectiveness of aromatherapy with lavender essential oil on sleep quality in men and women. According to the study’s findings, lavender oil improved* overall sleep quality in the subjects by increasing* the time spent in slow-wave sleep, increasing* stage II sleep, and decreasing* REM sleep. These results were attributed to lavender’s mild sedative effect. Including lavender oil aromatherapy into your bedtime routine is quite likely to help you fall asleep and improve* the quality of your sleep as well which will make you feel refreshed in the morning.
4. Listen to some Relaxing Tunes
While you’re enjoying the scent of relaxing lavender, you could also listen to some music along the way. Because a lot of the times our sleeping problems are a result of excessive thinking and anxiety, trying different relaxation methods may be a suitable option to improve* sleep. The relaxing effect of classical music was examined in a study on students who reported sleep problems. When compared to audiobook listening, classical music was much better in improving* sleep quality according to this study. The same results were measured in other studies such as the one on people living with schizophrenia who reported less emotional stress and better sleep quality from listening to relaxing music prior to bedtime.
5. Take Some Time to Exercise
Exercising for 15 to 30 minutes a day can be another way to promote healthy sleep. Epidemiological studies show the beneficial effect exercising has on sleep quality and overall health although the mechanisms behind this aren’t fully understood. Exercise was also found to be beneficial in increasing* slow-wave sleep which researchers concluded had to do with the effect exercise has on core body temperature. Exercising causes an elevation in core body temperature that can last for 1 to 2 hours and this elevation is believed to trigger a slow-wave sleep response according to one study that was published in the journal Sleep. Conversely, lower levels of physical activity was found to have an unfavorable effect on sleep quality according to a different study published in Psychology & Behavior.
Insomnia, disrupted sleep, and even excessive sleep are problems that could significantly impact your overall health and functioning. Once these problems occur, it can be hard to establish a healthy sleeping routine. Luckily, there are ways you could improve* your sleep schedule and sleep quality such as reducing* your exposure to stimulants such as light, relaxing your mind and body with music and aromatherapy or even increasing* your levels of physical activity. Balancing your circadian rhythm by introducing more routine into your life is another way to go. If all else fails, it would be a good idea to consult a doctor if your sleep problems persist.