Sleep – complete guide to healthy sleep habits

Maintaining good sleep habits

We all want to know how to get a good slumber. Getting restful drowse is as important as eating a healthy diet and performing regular exercise. According to research, poor slumber can cause immediate detrimental effects on brain function, hormones, and exercise performance. If you want to maintain your health, you should try hard to get a satisfying

Maintaining a healthy slumber habit is important for a healthy lifestyle. Sleeping poorly can have negative effects on your health. Not getting enough rest can cause immediate detrimental effects on your brain function and hormones, it can also cause weight gain and increase the risk of disease in children and adults.

The Benefits

A good quality sleep, including how long it should take for you to fall asleep and how many times you should wake up during the night. People who get enough quality doze have more energy, cognitive function, healthier immune systems, and improved memory, alertness, attentiveness, and performance throughout the day. They are also in a better mood. They’re better able to acquire and perfect new skills, connect new information with current knowledge, and manage pain as the analgesic aspects of slumber increase pain thresholds.

People who sleep well have better muscle mass and improved muscle memory – most of the benefits of exercise are realized during quality sleep. Repetitive motor skills involving sequences of muscle movements, such as a golf swing, improve during sleep without additional practice. Sleep is also the key to healthy skin, as cells turn over more quickly when you trance and the human growth hormone improves skin appearance, making sleep the best way to look and feel refreshed. People sleeping eight hours per night have a higher level of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin, helping improve weight control.

Factors that affect sleep

Barriers to quality sleep include the sleeping environment, what we ingest food, beverages, medications, etc., and levels of activity and stress. Medical conditions also negatively affect sleep. Sleeping environment makes a big difference in our ability to get quality sleep.

  • Too much blue light exposure – blue light is detrimental because it signals our body to wake up, whether the source is a television, mobile devices, this should be avoided hours before bedtime.
  • Noise – noise makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, make sure that your bedroom is as quiet as it can get, or if it is unavoidable due to neighborhood noise, purchases earbuds to eliminate outside noises.
  • Temperature – achieving the right temperature balance so it is not too warm nor too cold, but sometimes it is easier said than done. Thermal incompatibility poses a problem for people who disagree with their partner about bedroom temperature. However, with today’s technology advances, you can now purchase a temperature control mattress, or blanket, where you can each regulate your preferred temperature on each side.
  • Mattress – the size and condition of your mattress have also a major effect on your slumber quality. A mattress that provides inadequate support can result in painful pressure points that disrupt nod off.
  • Pillows – pillows that don’t properly support the head and neck can cause pain during slumber, and cause disrupts slumber during the night. Make sure to get a pillow that is just right for your slumber style.
  • What eat and drinks throughout the day – Eating too close to bedtime can increase heart rate, making it more difficult to fall asleep. What you drink especially caffeine and alcohol, and when you drink it also can negatively affect sleep. Caffeine and alcohol both elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. Excessive alcohol consumption significantly disrupts REM sleep. Caffeine remains in your system up to eight hours after you consume it. While you may be able to fall asleep, the caffeine disrupts the quality of your slumber.
  • Activity – exercising too late in the day can raise your heart rate, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Keeping an inconsistent schedule also makes it harder for the body to fall asleep at night and awaken in the morning.
  • Stress – stress-induced insomnia is a common problem. Stress makes it difficult for people to relax and slow their thoughts and fall asleep. The brain’s reoccupation also prevents normal cycles.

Ways to Improve your sleep quality

Sleep - Ways to Improve your sleep quality

One of the important parts of improving your health and maintaining a healthy weight is to get a restful rest at night. When you follow certain healthy habits, your body is healthier and you feel better. Here are some ways to improve your slumber quality.

  • Increase exposure to bright light during the day – your body contains a natural clock, it is called your circadian rhythm, and it helps you stay awake and tells your body when to rest. Exposure to bright light or natural sunlight during the day helps your circadian rhythm healthy. A healthy circadian rhythm enhances energy during the day and the duration and quality of your rest at night.
  • Reduce exposure to blue light at night – exposure to blue light at night reduces hormones such as melatonin, which help you relax and get deep rest. Electronic devices such as computers and smartphones emit blue light and may interfere with your rest. One of the easiest ways to improve rest quality is to turn off computers, smartphones, TVs, etc. two hours before going to bed.
  • Avoid caffeine later in the day – caffeine stimulates your nervous system and can prevent your body from relaxing at night. It can worsen your rest quality significantly, especially if you consume a large quantity in the evening or late afternoon. To get good rest, avoid consuming caffeine at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Schedule your sleep – Go to bed the same time every night, and wake up the same time every morning, get into a proper routine, because irregular patterns can alter your body’s circadian rhythm and melatonin levels. Maintaining healthy habits means sticking to consistent waking and sleeping times, which will surely improve your rest quality.  

The link between sleep and health conditions

We all have some sense of the relations between rest and our ability to function throughout the day. After all, everyone has experienced the fatigue, bad mood, or lack of focus that so often follow a night of poor rest. What many people do not realize is that a lack of rest, especially on a regular basis, is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy.

Below are some of the studies that look at the relationship between rest habits and risk for developing certain medical conditions.

  • Obesity

Several studies have linked insufficient rest and weight gain. Studies have shown that people who habitually rest less than six hours per night are much more likely to have a higher than average body mass index (BMI) and that people who rest eight hours have the lowest BMI. Sleep is now being seen as a potential risk factor for obesity along with the 2 most commonly identified risk factors – lack of exercise and overeating. Research into the mechanisms involved in regulating metabolism and appetite is beginning to explain what the connection between rest and obesity might be.

  • Diabetes

Researchers have found that insufficient rest may lead to type 2 diabetes by influencing the way the body processes glucose, the high- energy carbohydrates that cells use for fuel. One short-term rest restriction study found that a group of healthy subjects who had their sleep cut back from 8 hours to 4 hours per night processed glucose more slowly than they did when they were permitted to sleep 12 hours.

  • Heart disease and hypertension

Even a minor period of inadequate rest can cause an elevation in blood pressure. Studies have found that a single night of adequate rest in people who have existing hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the following day. This effect may begin to explain the correlation between poor rest and cardiovascular disease and stroke. For example, one study found that sleeping too little or too much increased the risk of coronary heart disease in women.

  • Mood disorder

Given that a single restless night can cause people to be irritable and moody the following, it is conceivable that chronic insomnia may lead to long-term mood disorders. Chronic insomnia has been correlated with depression, anxiety, and mental distress. In one study, subjects who slept four and half hours per night reported feeling more stressed, sad, angry, and mentally exhausted. In another study, subjects who slept four hours per night showed declining levels of optimism and sociability as a function of days of inadequate rest. All of these self-reported symptoms improved dramatically when subjects returned to a normal schedule.

  • Weaker immune system

It is natural for people to go to bed when they are suck. Substances produced by the immune system, to help fight infection also cause fatigue. One theory proposes that the immune system evolved sleepiness inducing factors because inactivity and rest provided an advantage, those who slept more when faced an infection were better able to fight that infection than those who slept less. In fact, research in animals suggests that those animals who obtain more deep rest following an experimental challenge by the microbial infection have a better chance of survival.

Sleep patterns changes as we age

Over a typical lifespan, the amount of time we spend each day sleeping declines. For instance, newborns spend 16 to 20 hours of sleep each day. Between ages 1 to 4 years old, total daily sleep time decrease to about 11 to 12 hours. The gradual decline continues through childhood, such that an adolescent will need though not necessarily get about 9 hours of sleep to function at his or her best. Adults through middle age need at least 8 hours of sleep, and although the elderly may still require up to 8 hours, they may struggle to obtain those hours in one block.

In addition to changes in sleep duration, sleep patterns also change as we age. In the beginning, as all new parents discover, a newborn’s sleep is sporadic, the need to sleep and the need to eat cycle across the day and night, with little time for anything else. After three or four months, infants begin to develop a pattern in which sleep becomes consolidated into longer periods. Older infants and young children typically obtain their sleep during a solid nighttime session plus two or more daytime naps.

Generally speaking, through the toddler years, naps become fewer in number and shorter in duration, and sleep becomes more consolidated during the night. By the age of six or seven, many children have stopped taking naps entirely. Their sleep experienced much as it will be through adulthood.

Sleep – natural ways

  • Melatonin – Melatonin is the common natural sleep aid recommended for various sleep conditions, but the best evidence is for help with sleep problems caused by shift work or jet lag. Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle in the brain. It is produced from serotonin when exposure to light decreases at night. It is used in conditions where sleep is disordered due to low levels of melatonin at night such as aging, affective disorders such as depression, delayed sleep-phase disorder, or jet lag.
  • Light therapy – light therapy is used as part of treatment plans. If you have trouble falling asleep at night or have delayed sleep-phase syndrome, you may need more light in the morning. Light exposure plays a key role in telling the body when to go to sleep and when to wake up. A walk outdoors first thing in the morning or light therapy for 30 minutes may help.

On the other hand, if you find you are waking up too early in the morning or have the advanced sleep-phase syndrome, you may need more light late afternoon and could try taking a walk outdoors or light therapy for 2 to 3 hours in the evening. Home light therapy units are available and are recommended by your doctor or sleep specialist to use in conjunction with your therapy.

  • Meditation and relaxation techniques – a regular meditation practice may help to improve sleep by slowing breathing and reducing stress hormone levels. Meditation is a technique that involves consciously directing one’s attention to an object of focus in order to increase awareness, relax the body and calm the mind. Some types of meditation include guided meditation, yoga, or body scan. You may also try these meditation techniques below:
    • Visualization – involves actively imagining a relaxing scene, you can try it in bed for 20 minutes before falling asleep. Involved all your senses. If you are imagining yourself on a tropical island, think of the way the warm breeze feels against your skin. Imagine the sweet scent of the flowers, look at the water and listen to the waves.
    • Relaxation response – a mind/body response that occurs after following specific instructions patterned closely after transcendental meditation.
    • Mindfulness – a type of meditation that essentially involves focusing on your mind on the present.
  • Hypnosis – Hypnosis is a state in which a person is more focus, aware, and open to suggestion. Although how it works is not understood, hypnosis may bring about physiological changes in the body as such decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and alpha wave brain patterns, similar to meditation and other types of deep relaxation. Hypnosis may be helpful in enhancing the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques. But the studies done so far are not well-designed.
  • Aromatherapy – 2011 analysis found no studies that are rigorous enough to provide evidence for aromatherapy for assisting sleep. The scent of English lavender aromatherapy oil has long been used as a folk remedy to help people fall asleep. It is one of the most soothing essential oils. You can use the oil to either put some drops in your bathtub or use oil diffusers to diffuse in your room.

Other natural products:

  • Valerian root
  • Chamomile
  • Ayurveda
  • Lemon balm
  • Vitex agnus castus

Food and diet tips :

  • Magnesium-rich food such as almonds, cashews, blackstrap molasses, dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains
  • Limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine
  • Cut back on sugar
  • Amino acid
  • Intake more food rich in vitamin B6 which is found in wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and bananas

Sleep – final tip

Once you have arranged your new sleep hygiene, such as purchasing a new mattress, new pillows, new blankets, etc. you can try the home remedies and change your lifestyle. However, when it comes to natural sleep aids, itis best you consult your doctor. Chronic insomnia can be a symptom of another condition, such as depression, heart disease, sleep apnea, lung disease, hot flashes, or diabetes. Think of insomnia as wake-up-call and ensure that you get early treatment for potentially serious conditions.