Before proposing diets, exercises, and reading who knows how many books, consider spending time learning how to sleep better in 2020.
My 2019 has been the year of appreciation of the dream. My situation is particular – I had my first daughter in January, and wondering how to sleep better has not been an option in my case. There is no way to escape the sleep deprivation that comes with being a dad.
The first two nights of absolute rest made me realize how exhausted I was; I was completely drained. If there is one thing that people warn you about before having a child is that you never go to sleep again. But it is impossible to imagine how intense it is until you are there.
Arianna Huffington, who has become an ardent advocate of sleep, put it very well in her TED Talk on the subject: the competition to show who is busier and therefore has fewer hours of sleep only leads to more tired people, completely ignorant to the disaster approaching them.
Rested people are people with energy, able to see the ‘big picture‘, productive and able to optimize their time. Tired people, and I say this with experience, are more irritable and become the worst version of themselves.
My goal for 2020 is not to return to the gym to regain my body or learn a new language – it is to develop the discipline to get a good night’s sleep. Job success, the body, even learning a new language can only happen if I am rested; I am sure of that. So here I will share with you the fruit of my research, on how to sleep better in 2020. With all my heart I wish you sweet dreams:
1. Avoid Exposure to Screens
Going to sleep with the mobile is becoming very common. We live glued to the screen almost 24 hours a day. Sending WhatsApp’s, reading email or entering social networks cause brain stimulation that prevents us from relaxing completely before falling asleep. The brain needs to disconnect to relax and be able to enter the different phases of sleep. In addition, the light emitted by the screens of electronic devices (tablets, laptops, smartphones) confuses the brain, making it believe that it is still daylight and reducing melatonin, the sleep hormone.
2. The Hourly Routine
It is important to maintain a relatively stable schedule at bedtime. Going to sleep at very varied times during the week can cause our body’s internal clock to go out of order. Maintaining a routine, our body will recognize what time you should fall asleep. This way you will not spend as much time in bed trying to fall asleep without success.
On the other hand, not having a good rest routine can end up causing muscle exhaustion, headaches, even triggering a bad mood and apathy.
3. Control What You Eat and What You Drink
It is not recommended to go to bed feeling hungry or with a very full stomach. In particular, it is important to avoid heavy and hearty meals a couple of hours before bed. In addition, nicotine and caffeine generate stimulating effects that take several hours to disappear, which can decrease the quality of sleep. Instead of sleeping pills, you can try a natural alternative for sleep problems. Finally, although alcohol consumption can sometimes make us feel drowsy, the quality of sleep obtained is of much lower quality. In addition to not generating restful sleep, we may well wake up at night and have symptoms of dehydration from alcohol.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine linked a diet high in fiber and low in sugars and saturated fats with deep, restful dreams. Apparently eating a bowl of cereal because I don’t have the energy to cook anymore doesn’t turn out to be such a bad idea after all.
4. Incorporate Physical Activity into Your Daily Routine
Physical activity regulates and oxygenates our body and can help us sleep better. However, it is advisable to avoid excess physical activity around bedtime as it can cause overstimulation and problems falling asleep. In addition, it can also be useful to spend time outdoors every day. In this way, we will absorb melanin and adjust our biological clock. It is important to relate the absence of light to the time to sleep to internalize a healthy rest routine.
5. Reduce Naps During the Day
Long naps during the day can affect night rest. If we decide to nap after eating, it is important to control the time and not sleep for more than 30 minutes or at the end of the afternoon. However, if you work or study at night, you may need a longer nap or even late in the day before starting work to recharge batteries and compensate for lack of sleep.
6. Create a Relaxed Atmosphere
Creating a cozy, intimate and calm climate in the room is essential to better sleep. This often means a well-heated, quiet, clean and tidy room. Also, exposure to outside light or even very strong white lighting can make it difficult to fall asleep. Considering the use of curtains to darken the room or soft, warm lighting to create a relaxed and calm atmosphere may be a good idea. Another factor that can harm is the noise from the outside – in this case using plugs can be very useful.
The reason your baby started taking those sensational naps is because it’s easier to fall asleep and go back to sleep after a little awakening if the room is completely dark. Why do you think you sleep so well in hotel rooms? When the room is black, the body releases more melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep, and helps both us and babies sleep soundly.
Finally, do relaxing activities before bed, like taking a bath, drinking a tea or using relaxation and breathing techniques, can promote better sleep.
7. Avoid Sleeping on a Bad Mattress
Sleeping on an old, worn or deformed mattress can cause us to roll over in bed. Although we do not notice a bad surface when sleeping, it causes our body to suffer pressure and pain. It tries to find a solution by adopting different postures without alleviating the discomfort. Consequently, when we get out of bed it is very likely that we can feel fatigue and pain in the back that can cause muscle problems especially in the spine and cervical area.
Finally, although we can all have a sleepless night from time to time, if this happens regularly and you do not get a good night’s sleep on a daily basis, it is important to consult this problem with a doctor. Identifying and treating underlying causes as well as internalizing healthy sleep habits will be helpful.