Tips to Improve Your Sleep
Updated: Jul 10
There is an excellent standup routine from Jerry Seinfeld on how every time you enter a room, you look for a chair. Life is a never-ending search for a chair to sit on. That is until you lay in bed. According to Jerry, a bed is a universally accepted sanctuary. It's why when someone calls you, and you say, "Man, I'm in bed," they sincerely apologize.
It's a funny bit, and like most of Seinfeld's observational humor, it rings true to most people. There are very few things in life better than a deep sleep in a comfortable bed. However, as with every good thing in life, it has its dangers. You see, a bed isn't just a sanctuary; it can also be quicksand. Be honest, have you ever found yourself spending half the day in bed.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to get good efficient sleep while avoiding day naps and other trappings.
Sleep on a Schedule
This is by far the most important method for good sleep, and maybe the most difficult. I'm sure you've heard that your body has an internal clock. It is called the circadian rhythm, and it's responsible for regulating the feeling of sleepiness and alertness you get throughout the day. The brain controls the circadian rhythm, and as no two minds are alike, everyone's rhythm is unique.
Do you know those annoying people who can function in the early morning? Well, their circadian rhythm makes them most alert at that time. Regardless of the brain's internal working, the circadian rhythm can be significantly affected by external factors, mainly when your sleep cycle is disjointed.
An extreme example would be jet lag from international traveling. As you pass through the time zones, your internal clock is vastly different from the time zone your in. That's why some people struggle with sleep for days after traveling.
The same thing happens to a lesser extent when your bedtime changes constantly. Keeping a set time to sleep will help balance your circadian rhythm.
Put Down Your Screen at Night
I know I'm making a lot of assumptions about your travel history, but do you ever wonder why they hand sleep masks and shut off the lights on an international flight? The obvious answer is to help you sleep, which would be correct.
Scientifically it goes back to the circadian rhythm. Artificial light confuses our brain into thinking it's still day time and throws off our rhythm. When it's dark, your brain produces hormones, such as melatonin to help sleep.
Sleeping with the television on may be a way of life for many of you, but it might be keeping you awake. Avoiding bad sleeping habits like this can help improve your sleep at night.
Avoid the Afternoon Naps
Blasphemy! I imagine readers yelling this when reading the header. Believe me. I had trouble writing it. It all comes back to the circadian rhythm; napping can throw your rhythm off balance.
Thankfully, I have two pieces of good news. One if you followed the first two steps, your midday grogginess will be a lot less severe. Second, the header is a bit misleading; having a short controlled nap can still be beneficial and keep your sleep cycle in check. By short, I mean around half an hour. A quick rest at the right time, around 1:30-2:30, can make you refreshed without ruining your sleep cycle.
Sleeping too late in the day, however, will cause you to fall asleep later that night.
What Can I Do Instead of Sleeping?
It seems counterintuitive to discuss how to avoid sleeping in an article on getting better sleep. But the key to getting good sleep is sleeping at the right time.
Of course, life won't always allow you to dictate your sleep cycle, so in that case, here are a few activities to not only wake you up but also help you sleep better when the time is right:
Exercising and being active.
Taking a cold shower.
Get up and walk around every few minutes.
These are just a couple of many activities to keep you awake!
I hope I'm not the first person to state the importance of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle. On top of its other numerous health benefits, it kickstarts and regulates bodily functions that can lead to better sleep.
Doing as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise instead of napping will increase your body temperature, making you feel more awake, and as your body cools, lead to better sleep later in the day.
Make a Healthy Snack
There are a wide variety of food options that are both healthy and give you an energy boost to power through afternoon slumps. Fruits have natural sugar for energy without processed glucose. And whole grains and protein are complex foods that your body converts to energy over time. Try combining all three into a shake for an energy boost.
Time to Get Some Sleep
When you combine all of the sleeping tips together, you'll be sure to start getting the best night's sleep you've ever had. The only other thing you need to improve your sleep is getting the right stuffing for your pillow.
Once you have that, you'll never have trouble sleeping again!