Losing a night’s sleep might just be a minor nuisance to some, making you feel uneasy and irritable the next day. Some, however, may suffer from insomnia and be unable to get a good night’s sleep. This is more problematic than the odd night of tossing and turning—new studies find that insomnia is linked to a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke.
In modern societies, sleeplessness is a common occurrence, and insomnia is more prevalent than you would think. This could be due to any number of reasons, and a truly good night’s sleep is elusive to a lot of people. But experts are adamant that there are things you can do to help boost your odds of getting quality shut-eye and keep you healthy.
Regular bed and wake times: Going to sleep each night at the same time and waking up at the same time each morning, even on weekends, helps the body maintain a proper sleep cycle. Keeping a proper sleep schedule will be less likely impair your ability to fall asleep and will make you feel a lot better throughout the day.
Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon: While your morning cup of coffee is more than ok, it is advisable to avoid any sort of caffeinated drink or food in the late afternoon. It may be difficult to pick these items out, as a lot of snacks and drinks have caffeine in them. It is important to be aware of the foods and drinks you’re ingesting and instead choose water, seltzer, unsweetened decaffeinated herbal tea, or any other caffeine-free beverage in the mid afternoons and evenings.
Avoid screens: We are bombarded with brightly lit screens everywhere we go. We even take them to bed with us as we read our favorite book in tablet format. The sleep doctors recommend avoiding all electronic screen on e-readers, mobile devices, and television sets at least 30 minutes before bed, as it will impair the body’s natural sleep cycle.
Exercise and diet: Making an effort to exercise and maintaining a healthy diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat and added sugar may improve your sleep, the doctors say. A diet like this will also benefit overall heath and quality of life. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Performing these exercises is best during the early mornings or right after work, the sleep doctors go on to say.
Lastly, the doctors touch on the subject of napping and recommend to avoid them. But if a nap can’t be avoided, try to limit it to 20 or 30 minutes earlier in the day.
Getting a restful night’s sleep should be everyone’s priority, but it often gets put on the back burner. It’s a shame, as the act of sleeping has many restorative properties that keep humans healthier and living longer.