Sleep is one of the most basic and essential needs of people. If we do not get enough sleep, terrible things start to happen in our minds and bodies. Many people assume that it can be difficult to have an adequate, uninterrupted sleep every night.
Patrick Fuller, an associate Professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School, prepared a guide to a good night’s sleep. According to his recommendation, here are seven things to do for a great night’s sleep.
1. Wake up at the same time each morning
The problem that many people experience while trying to fall asleep is to be able to establish a sleeping pattern. For example, if you woke up at 11:00 am on Sunday morning, and try to sleep in the same evening to wake up at 7:00am on Monday, you will lose the desire to sleep and find it difficult to get up the next day. According to Fuller, as people wake up later during the day, the desire to sleep at night decreases, thus triggering the assumption that they are insomniac. Therefore, waking up at the same time each morning can be a good start to a productive sleep pattern.
2. Do not drink coffee and tea after lunch
At the end of a long business day, it might be tempting to drink espresso after lunch to give you energy. Despite the temptation you should avoid the espresso machine at all costs. Caffeine stays in the body for a long time, and the effects lasts about 6 hours, which means that it takes around 6 hours for it to be broken down in your system. Therefore, we recommend you to pay attention to the amount of fizzy drinks, coffee and/or tea you consume during the day. Fuller prefers to start the day with a green tea, as opposed to coffee, which is high in caffeine.
3. Exercise at least 20-30 minutes during the day
There is a large body of academic research and evidence confirming the benefits of exercising, which helps prevent stress, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, while at the same time supporting a good quality sleep. Studies show that exercises made in the morning and after lunch can improve the quality of body and night sleep. Avoid exhaustive exercises just before going to bed, as it can increase body temperature and boost adrenaline and cortisol levels, which can be a recipe for disaster before a good night’s sleep. Fuller says that he always strives for a physical activity every day, even something simple as a short walk or a quick 20 to 30 minutes of jogging.
4. Avoid drinking alcohol in the evening
Many people assume that alcohol is a potential solution to help you fall asleep. Common wisdom suggests that alcohol relieves your muscles and soothes your nerves, thus helping you to fall asleep without noticing. Be careful, these strange effects will not last through the night. Fuller says that “people drink to sleep and they say it works, however, the problem arises when you wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of alcohol fades away, staring at the ceiling, or waiting to fall asleep again”. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, drinking alcohol just before bedtime reduces the amount of time you spend in the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a deep and restful phase of sleep. Fuller says that “it is so wrong to use alcohol as a drug to help you fall sleep. Drink when you need to drink, possibly close to dinner time, and drink within reason and moderation, for example, limit to just one glass of wine”.
5. Adjust your sleep pattern
Fuller wakes up every morning at 5:30 am and aims to sleep around 21:30. You may think that sleeping at 21:30 is difficult, because there are tonnes of things to do, such as washing the dishes, tidying up the mess, watching the news or episodes. Fuller has a ritual (or a habit) of dimming the light an hour before going to bed, which is to help adjust the body’s biological clock. Low light level increases the production of the natural melatonin hormone in your body, enabling you to have an uninterrupted sleep.
6. Avoid using any form of gadget with a screen an hour before bedtime
We mentioned about the impact of dimming lights in the production of melatonin, thus helping you to fall asleep. The bright blue light from smartphones and iPad screens turns this effect in the exact opposite direction, causing your brain to be mistaken by daylight. Thus, reducing the melatonin level that helps you to fall asleep, causing you to have sleeping difficulties. Over time, your sleep pattern that is affected by the smart phone light, can damage your memory and increase the risk of depression, obesity, and even some cancers.
7. Sleep at the same time each night
When we look at the recommendations so far, we can say that the secret of a good night’s sleep is a routine adjustment. Every morning as soon as you hear the alarm, if you want to wake up cheerful and lively, it is really important for you to sleep at the same time each night. You can also mess up your routine if you sleep more or less than the number of hours you’re used to sleeping.
It is therefore crucial for you to be able to apply the above seven recommendations in practice for a good night’s sleep. Here is a word of warning: do not overly obsess yourself with sleep patterns, as it might just become an obstacle and prevent you from establishing such a routine. Despite Fuller is fully committed to the routine, he admits that time to time he sacrifices his regime, which is a natural flow of life.
In addition, Fuller says that he feels relaxed, recuperated and rested on the days he practices this routine, whereas it’s the opposite on the days the routine is disrupted.
And you should do the same. Sleep well!