If you constantly feel tired throughout the day, it’s tempting to simply blame it on a busy schedule, guzzle another cup of coffee, and push through the problem without another thought.
The thing is, sometimes a lack of good sleep can stem from other issues besides late nights and early mornings. If you feel perpetually exhausted, you may want to look into the quality of your sleep as much as the quantity and see if there are any deeper concerns to address.
How Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Health
While it’s easy to write off poor slumber due to a lack of time spent in bed, there is actually a slew of other sleep conditions that could be affecting your attempts to reach a genuinely peaceful comatose.
- Restless leg syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, is at its worst at night time and can be a major cause of low-quality sleep.
- Parasomnia is a catch-all term that includes classic sleep-disruptors like sleepwalking, nocturnal leg cramps, and night terrors.
- Insomnia is the classic struggle to fall asleep and can cripple your ability to rest — in either the short or the long term — regardless of how much time you spend in bed.
- Sleep apnea is the poster child of poor sleeping and can affect sleep via a variety of symptoms such as grinding your teeth, acid reflux, drooling, dry mouth, and even weight gain.
Many of these issues can have profound effects not just on your sleep, but on your daily routine, as well. Along with the simple fact that they can make you tired, poor sleep can negatively affect your immune, respiratory, digestive, nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems. It can also have a profound influence on your overall mental health.
Ways to Increase the Quality of Your Sleep
If you think you’re suffering from poor quality sleep, you should start by talking to your doctor. Along with seeking medical advice, here are a few quick tips and suggestions to help you restore some deep REM cycle healing power to your rest each night.
Treat the Cause
Once again, you’re going to want to start by talking with a doctor or other medical professional — like a dentist — before you address an actual health concern. With that said, even serious sleep disruptors like sleep apnea have many treatments available. All it takes is putting in a little effort to unmask your issues and wrangle up some solutions.
Get on a Sleep Schedule
The human body thrives on schedules, especially when it comes to things that are lower on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you struggle with getting good sleep, start by setting up a sleep schedule.
It doesn’t have to be rigid, either. Give yourself an hour long window each night and each morning during which you try to go to sleep and wake up, respectively.
Create a Sleeping Space
It’s important to create a space where you feel comfortable and relaxed. If you regularly doze off on a couch in the middle of a living room where you are constantly taking care of kids or playing games with your dog, it’s going to negatively affect your sleep.
Obviously, the bedroom is the traditional space for your nocturnal slumber. However, even then, it’s too often used for working, eating in bed, or binging Netflix.
Ideally, your bedroom should be a space that is exclusively for sleeping, with your bed, in particular, being only used for sleep.
Set the Mood
Along with a good sleeping space, you’re going to want to create a dependably sleepy atmosphere whenever possible. Here are a few suggestions for ways to set the mood for your sleeping space:
- Utilize a good sleep routine: Routines provide structure, dependability, and comfort, whether they’re in the morning, during work, or at any time of the day or night. Try setting up a routine before bed, such as taking a shower, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
- Find the right temperature: This will help to enhance your sleep quality.
- Hang light-blocking curtains: Controlling the amount of light in your sleeping space can help you avoid natural disturbances from daylight.
Exercise Wisely and Eat Well
It may sound cliche, but taking the time to exercise properly and eat well can make a huge difference in your sleep quality.
Exercising, for instance, should be done regularly, even if you’re simply taking the dog for a walk on a daily basis. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime, though, or you’ll wake yourself up as you’re trying to wind down.
Your food can also have a huge effect on the quality of your rest. Eating too close to bed can be detrimental to a good night’s sleep, for instance. Try to wait at least 2-3 hours after a meal before you turn out the lights.
Taking Control of Your Sleep
Whether you’re struggling with a brief bout of insomnia, chronic sleep apnea, or anything in between, it’s important to take the time to address your sleep quality as much as your sleep quantity. In fact, if you’re in a position where you simply cannot spend enough time sleeping (being a new mother, for instance), focusing on the quality of your rest can be a game-changer.
Once you bring your sleep to a new standard of excellence, all you’ll need to do is set up a good morning routine to start each day off on the right foot and, before you know it, you’ll have a whole new lease on life.
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