How to Optimize Sleep for Overall Health and Performance

August 18, 2023
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How to Optimize Sleep for Overall Health and Performance

Adults should get anywhere between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you're finding it difficult to hit those numbers, or if your sleep quality's bad, then it can be a struggle to handle everyday life. Not to mention, you may not have enough energy to maintain your interpersonal relationships, which can cause them to suffer.

It's time to turn things around, and that's entirely possible if you follow a detailed night routine checklist. You'll be setting yourself up for success in all areas of your life, so it's worth putting some time and effort into.

Read on for some sleeping tips you should follow to get the best sleep possible.

Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule

This seems like a very obvious tip, but it's easier said than done. Your life can be chaotic and unpredictable, especially if you've got a family at home or you have a workaholic personality.

However, you shouldn't forget the importance of sleep. Not only should you get between seven and nine hours of shuteye a night, but you should also go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

If you can fall into a regular routine, this will help regulate your body's internal clock. As a result, it'll be easier to fall asleep and wake up.

Create a Relaxing Environment

Your bedroom should be a peaceful sanctuary. If it's currently the complete opposite, then it's time for a makeover.

Make sure your bed is firm yet comfortable. Invest in a new mattress or a mattress topper if your bed isn't in fantastic condition.

You should have cosy bedding too. Having different duvet sets for the various seasons can be a tremendous help.

The temperature should be on the cooler side, and reduce noise as much as possible. If you aren't able to soundproof your room, then use earplugs and/or a white noise machine.

Add blackout curtains to block out light as the sun comes up. It's also beneficial for blocking out artificial light that may come from other properties. A good alternative is a soft blindfold.

Avoid Heavy Meals

We understand that eating large meals can be fun if you're a foodie. However, large or spicy meals can cause discomfort and indigestion. These things can keep you up, and even when you drift off to sleep, it'll be harder to sleep peacefully, as your body's working hard to digest your dinner.

The best thing to do is to have a moderate meal that's flavorful but not heavy on spices. Try to have at least a few hours between your meal and bedtime so your body has a chance to break down your food before you shut your eyes.

You can even give intermittent fasting a try, as it'll improve your sleep quality and work performance as well. When your stomach's not stuffed with agitating foods, you'll find it effortless to fall asleep.

Hydrate Wisely

Along those lines, you should watch your water intake too. Hydrating is always an excellent idea, as it can help many of your body's processes.

However, if you drink too much water before sleeping, you're almost guaranteed to wake up multiple times to relieve yourself. All it takes is one or two trips to the bathroom to ruin your sleep quality.

So do yourself a favour and reduce your fluid intake in the evening. This will minimize the chances of you waking up in the middle of the night for bathroom trips.

Limit Your Screen Time

Devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers all emit blue light. While it's not all bad, it's been proven that it disrupts your circadian clock.

More specifically, it suppresses melatonin production, which is the hormone produced when you're in darkness. This is a way for our bodies to detect nighttime, which then sends signals to your body to sleep.

To ensure you get adequate melatonin to fall asleep easily once your head hits the pillow, avoid screens at least an hour before bed. You can also take melatonin supplements to help your body's natural production.

Dim the Lights

It's not only blue light that affects your body's melatonin production; any light will suppress melatonin production.

Of course, you can't stumble around in the darkness for hours before you go to sleep. However, you can reduce the brightness of your lighting to signal to your body that it's time to wind down and prep for bed.

If your current lights aren't dimmable, consider switching them out for ones that are. Otherwise, gradually turn off lights in the room a few hours before bedtime.

Disconnect From Work

Your work may be your passion, but it can be a huge roadblock to a good night's sleep. No matter what you're focused on, it's bound to make your mind race.

It's understandable that you're dedicated to your work, but you'll end up shooting yourself in the foot if you don't get adequate rest. When you're a zombie at the office, you won't be as productive as you wish you could be.

You should avoid work-related tasks or discussions in the hours leading up to bedtime. Work-related stress can make it difficult to relax.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Being a highly strung person isn't fantastic for your health, especially when you want to sleep well. It might take some patience and time to get used to relaxation techniques, but they'll have lasting benefits on your overall quality of life.

To start off simple, you can practice deep breathing exercises. You can also perform gentle stretches while doing these.

The next step is to learn and engage in mindfulness meditation. This can help relax both your body and mind.

What's great is that you can also use these relaxation techniques whenever you're feeling stressed or anxious during the day.

Practice Sleep-Friendly Activities

Don't find relaxation techniques to be a good fit? Or perhaps you want more activities that can relax you? Then try things like light yoga, journaling, listening to a calming podcast, reading a book, or listening to soothing music.

On the other hand, avoid doing anything that'll excite you. Listening to hard rock music, watching scary movies, and doing intense exercise will make it challenging and more time-consuming to calm down and drift off.

It's important that you wind down gradually. With an effective pre-sleep routine, your body will get the signal that it's time to relax, and then eventually sleep.

Limit Stimulants

On that note, you should limit your stimulant intake, especially several hours before bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are both things that can keep you up at night, so try limiting your intake or avoiding them altogether.

If you're used to having a cup of tea or coffee before bed, then consider switching to herbal teas. Outstanding ones to sip on include chamomile, valerian root, and lavender. They all have natural calming properties that can promote relaxation and sleep.

If you participate in the use of illicit drugs, then it may be time to reconsider your usage. Not only can it get you into legal trouble, but it may ruin your relationships too. They'll also negatively impact your health and sleep quality.

Many people mistakenly think that alcohol helps them fall asleep. It's true that it makes you drowsy, but it also disrupts your sleep cycles. You'll have fragmented sleep later in the night, so even though you've slept eight hours, it'll feel like you've only slept for three.

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Keep a Sleep-Inducing Bedtime Ritual

Making a sleep schedule and sticking to it will get your body used to things. Think about what you do before tucking yourself in, and stick to the same order every night. For example, you can have a checklist of:

  • Washing your face
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Changing into comfortable sleepwear

Again, this is something that can signal to your body that it's time to wind down.

Avoid Clock Watching

Even if you follow all of the above tips, it'll be harder to fall asleep on some nights than others. It's tempting to check your phone or wall clock to see what time it is, but that'll only create anxiety and make it harder to fall asleep.

To reduce temptation, turn clocks away from your view. Charge your phone somewhere where it's difficult to reach, but not impossible to turn off your alarm in the morning.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

Can't sleep well, no matter what? Then it may be time to consult with a healthcare professional or sleep specialist.

These experts can analyze your situation and give you personalized guidance and solutions. In addition, they might find health issues that need to be dealt with to help you sleep better.

Try This Night Routine Checklist for Better Health

This in-depth night routine checklist outlines several effective ways to float off to dreamland, so try them out.

The most important thing to remember is to calm yourself and avoid messing up your body's internal clock. Having a cool, quiet, and dark bedroom helps too, as well as comfortable bedding.

After implementing these tips, you'll quickly optimize sleep. And as a result, you'll boost your overall health.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare professional. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise, medication regimen, or any other health-related behaviors. Your personal health situation should always be overseen by a healthcare provider who can provide you with tailored health advice.

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