Sleep is an integral aspect of every living organism. Insufficient sleep, poor sleeping patterns, or interruptions at night harms your body’s functions. Poor sleeping habits lead to health problems such as diabetes, bipolar disorder, obesity, depression, and cardiac illness such as stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure.
It is essential to cultivate good sleeping habits, also referred to as sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene means good habits that help to initiate and maintain sleep. Adequate sleep helps your body to heal faster, improve cognitive abilities, and regulate body metabolism.
This post is for you if you notice the following signs at night. If you are constantly tossing and turning on the bed or gazing at the ceiling at night, and then you have sleep deprivation. Most times, you will find yourself overeating at night and worrying about sleep.
During the day, you tend to get more accidents or errors with frequent yawning. Even after a night’s sleep, you still feel unrested, fatigued and you are easily irritable. In the read below, you will understand tips to help you get better and quality sleep at night. You will also get to understand what you can do to optimize your bedroom for better sleep.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
The subject of how much sleep is enough is always a bother to many people. Whereas there is no exact numeral value to hours you should sleep, there is an acceptable range. The limit varies depending on age, sex, lifestyle and routine.
The following is a guideline of recommended hours of sleep based on age:
- Newborns: Babies below three months old require 14-17 hours of sleep, including daylight napping.
- Infants: Kids from 4 to 11 months should spend about 12-15 hours daily while sleeping.
- Toddlers: Children between one to two years need 11-14 hours daily
- Preschoolers: At age 3-5 years, need 10-13 hours of sleep
- School-aged: From age 6-13 need to aim at 9-11 hours of sleep
- Teens: Children from 14-17 years require 8-10 hours of sleep
- Adults: From age 18-64 require 7-9 hours of nighttime sleep
- Seniors: The elderly aged 65 and above need 7-8 hours of sleep
People can vary from the given range to either side. However, straying far from the set range leads to health complications. For instance, too much sleep can cause headaches, depression or diabetes. On the other hand, insufficient sleep will affect your moods, performance and concentration span.
Consequences of Poor Sleep Hygiene
The prevalence of poor sleep may cause some adverse effects on your mental and physical status. Depriving your body quality of sleep will over time affect the quality of your life. The following are some of the outcomes of poor sleep hygiene.
- Low Immune System
The immune system helps to fight germs and prevent infections in your body. When pathogen enters your body, the immune system releases cytokines informing the invasion platelets. The white blood cells identify, attack and remove the foreign elements.
The body increases the production of cytokines while you are asleep. It implies that your body has a better response to illness-causing pathogens when you get sufficient sleep. This concept is also essential before and after receiving a vaccination jab.
Adequate sleep before immunization allows the body to produce enough cytokines, which help in the immune response. In addition, getting sufficient sleep allows the body to improve antibody response against vaccinations.
- Weight Gain
The body contains two vital hormones that control appetite, leptin and ghrelin. When you have sleep deprivation, the body produces too much ghrelin. The chemical sends signals to the brain promoting feelings of hunger and feeding. Consequently, it inhibits the production of leptin which gives you the sensation of a full stomach.
People who sleep for a few hours, typically less than 7 hours, interfere with the balance of appetite hormones. Little secretions of leptin and increased levels of ghrelin result in overeating. Overeating leads to weight gain and obesity.
- Increases Risks for Diabetes
With diabetes, the body fails to produce sufficient insulin and glucose levels in the blood. There is type 1 diabetes when the body cannot produce insulin and type 2 diabetes when body cells fail to respond to insulin appropriately.
Lack of good night sleep leads to insulin resistance, where muscles, liver and fat fail to respond to insulin. Consequently, the pancreas produces more insulin which informs the liver to store excessive blood sugars into fat. The scenario leads to diabetes and types two diabetes.
- Heart Problems
During sleep, the brain activates the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), which controls the production of melatonin hormone. This hormone signals the body to relax, slow down the metabolism, and reduce blood pressure. When you fail to sleep, the body produces less melatonin, and hence the blood pressure is high.
You also increase the chances of obesity which causes the blood vessels to become narrower. As a result, the heart strain so much in pumping blood to the other organs. Consistent pressure on the arteries leads to rupture of the blood vessels leading to life-threatening heart diseases such as stroke, heart failure and coronary artery disease.
Steps to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
You may experience factors that interfere with the quality of your sleep. Knowing what to do and following the correct procedures will increase your chances of achieving better sleep. There are various tips that you could practice that could help you get some good sleep. They include:
- Optimizing Your Bedroom
The bedroom is an essential room when it comes to sleep. The quality of your bedroom can significantly affect your sleep. As such, you need to ensure that it is comfortable and creates an environment that allows you to sleep quickly and peacefully.
The surface to lay your body on is essential, so begin by purchasing a comfortable mattress and pillow. If you are not looking to buy a new mattress or pillow, ensure that you clean your bedding to get rid of dirt and bacteria that may affect the quality of your sleep.
Set heavy or relatively dark curtains to block off the light from your bedroom. With the decrease in light, the brain produces melatonin which enhances sleep. You can also use eye masks to reduce glare which may interrupt your sleep.
Set a quiet and peaceful ambiance in your bedroom. You can do this by burning sweet-smelling scents that create a space for a calm mind. Ensure that you do not have any sounds that may bother you since silence will keep you asleep much longer: use earplugs or a sleep sound machine.
- Build a Nighttime Routine
A routine is a set of habits that an individual follows consistently. These habits influence the brain and shape your mind and become an inherent part of your behavior.
Setting a bedtime routine will train your mind to go to bed at the required time and improve your sleep as time goes by. Begin by setting a standard time for going to bed, a wake-up time, and a pre-bed routine.
Regardless of your daytime activities, ensure you sleep and wake up on the scheduled time, even on your off days or weekends. During the pr-bed routine, shout down your electronic gadgets to reduce your mental stimulation.
Take some minutes to engage in an activity such as meditation that relaxes your body and mind before sleep. Include dental hygiene practice and change into comfortable sleeping clothes. Avoid turning, tossing, and movements while in bed and convince and focus your mind on sleep.
You must avoid taking naps. However, if you need to take a nap during the day to reenergize, ensure that they do not go for long periods. Taking regular naps will interfere with your sleep schedules at night.
With time, you will realize that religiously following your night routine improves your sleep hygiene, and you fall asleep more easily.
- Develop Healthy Daily Habits
Your schedule and functions during the day impact your sleep and may contribute to your levels of sleep hygiene. In the morning, ensure that your body gets some sunlight. Sunlight allows your body to respond to its environment in a better way. Thus, your body can react ideally to sleep cycles.
Engage in physical activities. Exercising helps reduce stress levels and anxiety, which may be why you cannot enjoy sleep at night. Further, physical exercise requires the use of energy. With the depletion of energy, your body becomes tired and gets ready for rest at night.
Take note of what you eat and drink. Balance the amount of water you take. Taking too little will result in you waking up to hydrate. Taking too much may also cause you to frequent the bathroom at night. Waking up severally at night will disrupt your sleep. Properly hydrate and avoid taking water a few minutes to bedtime.
An individual’s food intake plays a crucial role in regulating the circadian rhythm. Ensure that you make the right food before you go to sleep. Heavy and spicy meals may cause discomfort or constipation, causing you a sleepless night. Avoid eating just before bedtime. If you need to snack at night, indulge in very light and healthy snacks such as fruits.
If you love a strong cup of coffee, pursuing sleep hygiene will require cutting down on your caffeine intake. Caffeinated drinks suppress the release of sleep-inducing hormones causing you to stay awake for long hours.
If your goal is to attain sleep hygiene, you will be careful not to take alcohol and drug substances. Consumption of alcohol slows down the brain inducing relaxation and sleep. However, excessive or constant alcohol intake causes an imbalance in the sleep cycle, causing disruptions and affecting sleep quality.
Avoid smoking as the cigarettes contain nicotine. This substance keeps the body from feeling tired and contributes to sleeping problems.
- Seek Treatment
From time to time, individuals may experience disrupted sleep patterns. Such scenarios are typical, and you can deal with them by adopting new behaviors. However, if you experience sleeplessness more often, it might be more severe than you think.
At times poor sleep hygiene may be a result of an underlying issue. You may want to visit a healthcare provider from a sleep specialist if you observe the following.
- If you are experiencing difficulties staying asleep.
- If you cannot get yourself to sleep
- If you feel a strong urge to sleep during the day.
- If you continually wake up earlier or much later than you want.
- If you still feel exhausted after sleep
A medical practitioner can diagnose an underlying problem and give the proper medication. Further, they can offer therapy and sleeping pills that will aid in improving your sleep patterns. The earlier you seek medical advice, the better the chances of improvement. Taking longer will deprive you of the joy of enjoying quality sleep. It may also take longer to reverse the effects caused to the brain.
The issue of how many night hours an individual should sleep continues to have varying responses. However, it is without a doubt that the hours you spend sleeping and the quality of your sleep affect your productivity.
If you have insufficient sleep, try practicing a combination of the tips above. Consistency in these practices will give you a desirable outcome.