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6 Tips for Better Sleep: Insights from Sleep Scientist Matt Walker

We all have those nights where sleep just doesn’t come easy. It’s perfectly normal to have a bad night of sleep every now and then. However, improving both the quantity and quality of our sleep can have profound effects on our overall well-being. In a TED series episode titled “Sleeping with Science,” sleep scientist Matt Walker shares six scientifically grounded tips to help you achieve better sleep. Let’s dive into these tips and understand how they can set the stage for a restful night’s sleep.

1. Regularity is King

One of the most crucial tips for better sleep is maintaining regularity. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can significantly improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep. This consistency anchors your sleep patterns, making it easier for your body to regulate its internal clock. Whether it’s a weekday, weekend, or even after a bad night of sleep, sticking to a regular schedule is essential. Your brain has a master 24-hour clock that thrives on regularity, including your sleep-wake schedule.

2. Keep It Cool

Temperature plays a vital role in sleep initiation and maintenance. Your brain and body need to drop their core temperature by about one degree Celsius (or around two to three degrees Fahrenheit) to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is why it’s easier to sleep in a cooler room than a warmer one. The recommended bedroom temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (about 18 degrees Celsius). While it may sound cold, a cooler environment is conducive to better sleep.

3. Embrace Darkness

In our modern society, we are often deprived of darkness, especially in the evening. Darkness is essential for triggering the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep timing. To promote better sleep, try to avoid screens (computers, tablets, phones) in the last hour before bed. Dim down half the lights in your house, and consider using an eye mask or blackout shades to create a dark sleeping environment. These practices help regulate melatonin and improve sleep quality.

4. Walk It Out

If you find yourself lying awake in bed for more than 25 minutes, either trying to fall asleep or after waking up, it’s best to get out of bed and do something different. Your brain is highly associative, and staying in bed awake can create a negative association between your bed and wakefulness. By getting out of bed and engaging in a different activity, you can break this association. Only return to bed when you feel sleepy, helping your brain relearn that the bed is a place for sound and consistent sleep.

5. Mind Your Alcohol and Caffeine Intake

Alcohol and caffeine can significantly impact your sleep quality. It’s advisable to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening, as it can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Similarly, try not to go to bed too tipsy, as alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycles. Being mindful of your intake of these substances can lead to better sleep.

6. Establish a Wind-Down Routine

Many of us expect to fall asleep immediately after turning off the lights, but sleep doesn’t work like a light switch. It’s more akin to landing a plane, requiring time for your brain to gradually descend into sleep. In the last 20 minutes to an hour before bed, disengage from screens and find a relaxing activity that works for you. Whether it’s reading, meditating, or listening to calming music, establishing a wind-down routine can help signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.

When to Seek Professional Help

While these tips can be incredibly helpful, they may not be sufficient if you suffer from a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. Just as a sports coach can’t improve your performance if you have a broken ankle, these tips won’t help if there’s an underlying sleep disorder. If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, it’s essential to consult with a doctor to address the issue properly.

Conclusion

Sleep is a vital life support system, and some may even consider it a superpower. By incorporating these six tips into your routine, you can improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep, leading to better overall health and well-being. Remember, regularity, a cool and dark environment, breaking negative associations, mindful substance intake, and a wind-down routine are key to achieving restful sleep. If you have any concerns about your sleep, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. Sweet dreams!

Stop Snoring

How to Stop Snoring: Best ways to End Noisy Nights

I. Introduction

        A. What is Snoring?

Snoring is a common sound that people make while they sleep when their throat and mouth are partly blocked from air flow. Continue reading “How to Stop Snoring: Best ways to End Noisy Nights”