3 habits to improve the quality of your sleep

3 habits to improve the quality of your sleep

One of the most common tips is that sleeping eight hours every night is ideal.

But in fact, striving to get more sleep than you need can make you feel dizzy upon waking, according to Shelby Harris, RD, a licensed clinical psychologist and director of sleep health at Sleepopolis.

“There is a range of seven to nine hours, sometimes as little as six hours,” Harris says. “Everyone is a little different, so it really varies based on the person.”

“Those eight don’t have to be magic,” Harris says. “If someone sleeps well in seven hours, forcing yourself to try to get in eight, can only make it worse.”

It’s also a common assumption that you should feel good when you wake up every morning, but that’s not realistic for everyone.

There is often pressure to get the best night’s sleep every night, she adds, but that’s often not the case — and it’s totally normal. “I’m a sleep doctor, and I don’t sleep well every night.”

Harris says that aiming for a good five nights a week is a more reasonable goal than seven nights if you suffer from insomnia.

She adds that more nights of quality sleep each week is the goal, but you shouldn’t obsess over that. The key to achieving good rest is consistency.

Here are more tips for getting better sleep from the experts.

3 habits to improve the quality of your sleep

1. Stick to a sleep routine

Sleeping will be a more natural process if you aim to rest at around the same time each night, says Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, a sleep neurologist. Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Sleep Foundation and Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Davis.

“This actually teaches your body that it’s time to sleep. You’ll find that if you maintain a very specific routine in the evening, it will be like the old saying, ‘Sleep before your head hits the pillow,'” she says.

Though, it’s important to realize that schedules change and you won’t always be able to rest at the same exact time, every night.

As a general rule, Harris suggests never exceeding a 90-minute window—which means that to maintain your sleep schedule, you shouldn’t sleep an hour and a half before or after your usual bedtime.

Sticking to a relaxation routine can limit It’s the time you “toss and turn” in bed, says Oyegbile-Chidi, and the best way to get your body into sleep mode is to get ready at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

Here are some practices to keep in mind while getting ready for bed:

  • Dim the lights in your room
  • Have a warm cup of herbal tea
  • Meditate for a few minutes
  • Turn off all screens, including TVs and phones
  • Read comfortable and non-disturbing books
  • Listen to the soothing podcast

“It doesn’t have to be one magical thing, whatever you find helps calm your mind, calm your body and relax,” Harris says.

Harris encourages you to try cutting back on energy an hour before bed if you can, but don’t stress yourself out too much if you can’t put in a lot of time.

“If you’re someone who’s never had an hour, start with ten,” she says. “Just try to lower the energy and do some demarcation between day and night, then work for 15 minutes. Make it small, achievable steps.”

2. Take some time to worry

Let’s face it: your commitments often keep you up at night. The remedy for this might be to make time in your schedule to download a list of your concerns and come up with solutions, says Harris.

“You allow yourself to worry about these things, but only once a day instead of all day,” she says.

Harris notes that while assessing the things you need to pay attention to, you can determine what is immediate and what can actually wait until tomorrow.

And by writing a to-do list, you can ease the burden by reassuring yourself that your responsibilities will be met, she says.

“When you’re in bed, if you’re still feeling anxious, you can say, ‘I really cared about this,'” Harris says. I already wrote it. And I need to let him go.”

Harris also suggests blogging and meditating during the day. This practice can allow you to let go of fears more easily if they pop up in your mind later at night when you’re trying to rest.

3. If you are a parent, put your baby to sleep first

Taking a full hour to relax before bed is hardest for parents, but prioritizing what needs to be done before bed is crucial.

To get better sleep for yourself, the best place to start might be to establish your child’s sleep schedule first.

Harris says many parents struggle to get to sleep when their children don’t have a set bedtime.

Setting a sleep schedule for your children will vary depending on their age, and it won’t be ideal every night. But, “When they’re on a predictable schedule, it helps you understand how your evening will go,” Harris says.

Once your child is away, you can ask yourself these questions before you spend your bedtime on something like homework:

  1. What should be done?
  2. What should I do?
  3. What can wait until tomorrow?
  4. What do I not care much about but other people expect me to do or want me to do?

“The more sleep you get at night and the priority is on rest, the more efficient your day will be at doing the things you need to do,” Harris says.

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