Sleep is a vital aspect of our overall health and well-being. The average person spends one-third of their life sleeping and still many of us struggle with lack of sleep and poor sleeping hygiene. Unhealthy sleeping patterns can lead to a range of negative consequences such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. On the other hand, practicing good sleep hygiene can have numerous benefits such as improved physical and mental health, increased productivity, and a higher quality of life in general.
The most important part of optimizing your sleeping habits and getting the most out of lying unconscious in your bed is establishing a consistent sleep schedule, which makes sure you get the amount of sleep that feels best for you. It’s generally recommended to aim for about 7-9 of sleep per night for (young) adults, though the optimal amount of sleep can vary depending on a variety of factors such as age, gender, genetics, and individual needs. The longest recorded sleep in a single day was 18 hours by a woman in 1927, which is not recommendable, but shows that some people are able to sleep longer than others. It is also important to consider your sleep-wake cycle, also known as your chronotype. While some are naturally “morning people” and feel more alert and energized in the early hours of the day, others are “night owls” and more productive when it already becomes dark outside.
There are several ways to determine your chronotype. For once you can try to keep a sleep diary and keep track of when you fall asleep, feel tired, or take a nap. This can give you a general sense of your natural sleeping patterns. It is also helpful to observe your energy levels and your most productive times so that you can use them to your own advantage. Of course, you can also take some chronotype quizzes on the internet, though they are not very reliable, they can still help you to get a vague sense of your own sleep-wake cycle. As always, if you want to be sure just consult your healthcare provider.
Considering that most people cannot choose their sleeping cycle freely though, because they must go to school, university or work, the natural sleep-wake cycle is not always our best friend. But don’t worry there are more things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Another important point for example is creating a sleep-friendly environment. Studies have shown that it is easier to fall asleep when your room is cool, so between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius, and dark. Try to eliminate little lights from electronical devices and have a proper blind in front of your window. It’s also worth it to invest in a mattress and a pillow that suit your needs, don’t be scared to put some effort into testing a few until you find one you are comfortable with. Also, weighted blankets can make you feel safer and sleep better, especially if you have some mental health issues, they have been proven to help improve your sleeping quality.
Not only your environment while sleeping is important, but it is also essential to spend your time directly before going to bed wisely. Stay away from technical devices as much as possible, because the blue light screens can interfere with your natural sleep-wake cycle. In addition to that avoid caffeine and alcohol at least a few hours before going to bed. While caffeine is self-explanatory, many people underestimate how much alcohol can decrease your sleep quality, since it makes you fall asleep much quicker. Alcohol might make you tired and initially help you fall asleep faster, but it can disrupt your sleep later in the night, prohibit you from going into the REM phase, and in the long run, is very damaging for you.
Before trying to fall asleep you should relax and destress. Engaging in relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and meditation can help you to calm down a bit. If this is not quite your cup of tea maybe reading a book, listening to audiobooks or podcasts, taking a warm bath or even crossword riddles are your thing. It doesn’t really matter what you do if it helps you to ground yourself, slow down and soothe your soul.
If all the above doesn’t work for you and you are still constantly feeling tired, please consult your doctor, because there could be an underlying cause like medical conditions, a poor diet, sleep disorders, a lack of physical activity, or something completely different.
In conclusion, good sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Establishing healthy sleep habits and maintaining good sleeping hygiene can help you get the rest you need to feel your best. Some simple tips for improving your sleep include setting a consistent bedtime routine, creating a relaxing sleep environment, and avoiding screens and caffeine before bed. Additionally, try to prioritize stress management and physical activity during the day, as these can also have a positive impact on your sleep. By taking these steps, you can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep and wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
“Sleep and Mental Health” by the Mental Health Foundation UK; “Studien zeigen, wie ungesund zu wenig Schlaf wirklich ist” by Solvejg Hoffmann in GEOplus; “Weder Lerche noch Eule? Es gibt zwei weitere Schlaftypen!” by Julla Haase in WELT; “Chronotypes” by Danielle Pacheco; “What Is Sleep Hygiene?” by Sara Lindberg; “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” by Eric Suni