To get the most out of us, we need not only enough sleep, but especially high-quality sleep. In this article we will show you some possibilities that can improve the quality of your sleep.
Sleep is very important to us. Sleep allows our body to recover. In addition, important metabolic processes take place during sleep, such as the breakdown of toxic proteins in the brain. Furthermore, our brain uses the deep sleep phase to convert short-term memories into long-term memories.
Sleep deprivation, or even poor quality sleep, is associated with some diseases. Studies show that poor sleep favors inflammation, worsens attention, affects fat loss, as well as insulin signals, testosterone production and cardiovascular health.
But sleep doesn’t just affect our health. Good sleep also helps us perform better – physically, mentally and during sexual intercourse. It also has a very strong influence on our mood. So let’s look at some strategies that we can use to improve our sleep.
What can interfere with our sleep?
Before we discuss how we can improve our sleep, let’s first look at what can interfere with our sleep. These sources of interference include: light, noise, temperature, alcohol and caffeine.
Light helps our inner clock to orient itself. This is done by the hormone melatonin. This hormone tells us, for example, when it is time for bed. Blue light produced by the sun, but also by screens such as Televisions, smartphones and computers, disrupt the production of melatonin.
And yes, even the small screen of our smartphone can have a negative impact on our sleep behavior and make it difficult for us to fall asleep. A small study found that while the smartphone does not directly affect the serum level of melatonin, it still leads to poorer sleep patterns. So if you absolutely need to use your smartphone before bed, you should install an app that can filter out the blue light of the screen (many newer smartphones have already installed this feature).
What about blue light that I can’t influence? This problem can be solved with special glasses that filter out blue light.
Even if blue light is the main trigger of sleep problems, you should still be careful to avoid other very bright light sources.
Also keep in mind that light can disturb your sleep when you’re already asleep. If you live in an area where light pollution plays a role (for example in a big city), then make sure that the invading light does not disturb your sleep with very dense curtains or a sleeping mask.
Avoid bright, and especially blue light 2 hours before going to sleep to make it easier to fall asleep. If necessary, use special glasses, filter apps or sleep masks.
As already explained, even light that does not keep you awake can still disturb your sleep. The same applies to noise. Even when you’re asleep, noise can increase your stress levels and worsen the quality of your sleep.
But not all sounds have the same effect on our sleep. Sudden and unexpected noises bother us more than constant noises. The noise of an air conditioner, for example, does not bother us so much, but the sudden start-up of this system can end our sleep.
The sounds that bother us the most are these, from which we hear a hint or a warning. At our own volume, we wake up from two talking people rather than with instrumental music. We may be able to sleep at constant traffic noise, but when a baby makes a much quieter disturbing noise, we wake up.
So if you’re asleep in a noisy environment (and don’t have children), earplugs that filter out high frequencies are recommended. For example, they can filter out the horns of vehicles while you only notice the constant grumbling of traffic.
In summary, we should try to minimize sources of light and noise before and during sleep.
An increased body temperature is associated with sleep disturbances. So if it’s too warm in the bedroom and your body temperature rises, it’s harder for us to fall asleep and it’s the quality of sleep.
In contrast, a colder body temperature leads to a shorter sleep latency (period between “light off” and the time of falling asleep). So if our bedroom is well cooled and ventilated (not so cold, of course, that we freeze), then it is easier for us to fall asleep and we reach the deep sleep phase faster.
Even if the heat doesn’t stop you from falling asleep, you should be aware that the temperature around us affects our sleep quality more than noise.
Alcohol is a sedative of the central nervous system – it provides relaxation by tying itself to the GABA receptors in the brain. Although you often feel that alcohol helps you fall asleep, the research shows otherwise.
Alcohol can help us fall asleep, but if we drink alcohol for several days in a row just before bedtime, this effect decreases. In addition, alcohol degrades the quality of our sleep. Ironically, alcohol abuse is associated with insomnia, even insomnia. However, it is not yet known exactly why this is the case.
Caffeine is considered safe by health authorities and certainly has its advantage – but the medal always has two sides.
Caffeine blocks various adenosine receptors in the brain. By blocking the A1 receptor, which is responsible for our drowsiness, caffeine can ensure that we do not get tired and increase our attention. Blocking the A2A receptor provides higher dopamine levels, which stimulates us and improves our minds.
The A1 receptor does not appear to be desensitized by frequent consumption of caffeine. But the A2A receptor is already, which means that coffee veterans need to drink more and more coffee to be stimulated.
Because the veterans no longer feel properly stimulated by the coffee, they also believe that caffeine no longer affects their sleep. In fact, many people can fall asleep without any problems, even though they have consumed a lot of caffeine. But while we sleep, caffeine makes us more alert and makes it difficult for us to enter the deep sleep phase. For this reason, we should avoid caffeine in the last 6 hours before bedtime.
What can improve our sleep?
Now we come to the factors that can improve our sleep. These factors include: physical exercise, sleep routine, melatonin, magnesium and lavender.
6. Physical exercise
Can we sleep better if we move more? Are we physically fitter when we sleep better? Or maybe both? Scientifically correct studies also do not agree on this issue. This may be due to the fact that they relate to different populations. In a 2013 study of 11 women, the researchers found that good sleep led to better workout results, but more workouts didn’t automatically lead to better sleep. By contrast, a 2014 study found that good sleep doesn’t automatically lead to better workout outcomes, but more exercise leads to better sleep.
Good sleep leads to more fitness. This statement probably only suits people for who are focused on the training results. A 1989 study found that sleep-deprived people show less stamina when exercising. And of course, this condition causes training sessions to be postponed or shortened.
More exercise leads to better sleep. This statement is supported by most studies on this subject. Although the exact mechanisms have not yet been researched, more exercise leads to better sleep quality – especially during stressful life phases. Both meditative exercise, such as .B yoga, as well as more intensive workouts have the potential to improve sleep quality. They also have a positive impact on our health and our basic mood.
What about training at night? Here, too, there are different ways of looking at things. Exercise leads to an increase in body temperature – which, as we have already learned, makes it difficult to fall asleep. Sport also increases the production of adrenaline. However, both factors are temporary and should only have a negative impact on your sleep if you jump directly from the weight bench into your bed.
More importantly, sport at night disturbs our circadian rhythm – that is, our perception of day and night. Nevertheless, physical activity seems to be good for our sleep quality – no matter what time of day.
We are all different. So if you find that exercise just before you go to sleep worsens your sleep quality, then you should move your training session to another phase of the day.
7. Constant sleep routine
Our body is a big clock that counts every second. Most of our body’s physiological processes follow a 24-hour rhythm based on temperature and light (for this reason, artificial light can negatively affect our sleep quality).
This 24-hour rhythm is our circadian rhythm. If we confuse this rhythm, it has a negative effect on our sleep quality. Going to sleep at the same time every day can improve our sleep and shorten sleep latency.
To strengthen the circadian rhythm, a fixed sleep routine can help. In doing so, we are signalling to our bodies that it is soon time for the bed. This routine can include brushing or showering, as well as reading or meditation.
Activities that stimulate our senses should be excluded in this routine, such as video games or physical work. Keep in mind that TVs and smartphones produce blue light that influenceour slackening process.
As soon as our body no longer perceives blue light (whether through the sun or through screens), it begins to produce melatonin. Melatonin signals to our body that it is time to sleep. If you still have trouble falling asleep despite the above tips, melatonin supplements are recommended.
Melatonin supplements can help avoid insomnia, speed up the sleep process and improve sleep quality. They can also help minimize the impact of jet lag. For this reason, they are very popular with frequent travelers. Furthermore, studies have found that melatonin supplements do not affect their own melatonin production.
However, you should be aware that melatonin supplements can’t help you adjust your sleep routine at will. Ultimately, perceived light affects our body’s melatonin levels more than a supplement can.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays an important role in our brain. Magnesium deficiency can therefore lead to abnormal neural arousals and sleep disturbances. Studies show that magnesium supplements in adults (adults are more likely to suffer from magnesium deficiency) can significantly improve sleep quality.
Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders usually have many reasons. However, the most common reasons are stress and the fact that in our modern world there is not enough time for sleep.
No pill in the world will allow us to get 8 hours of sleep in 6 hours. However, there are some substances that can help us reduce perceived stress. One of these substances is magnesium (as already mentioned). Another vegetable substance is lavender. Lavender has relaxing properties, helps with sleep disorders and improves sleep quality.
What do you think?
We hope that with these 10 tips we were able to give you a good guide to help you improve your sleep quality. Do you know any other strategies? Do you have a miracle cure? Write it in the comments!
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