A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function. It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children. In contrast, good sleep (sleep better at night ) can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier. Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep.
If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule.
Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don’t need more than eight hours in bed to achieve this goal.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed.
2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink.
Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.
Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
3. Create a restful environment.
Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.
4. Limit daytime naps.
Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.
If you work nights, however, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt.
5. Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Avoid being active too close to bedtime, however.
Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.