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10 Scientifically Proven Tips to Improve Your Sleep Quality

Want to learn how to improve your sleep quality? Here we have 10 scientifically proven tips that all contribute to improving your sleep quality. 

Want to cut to the chase? Here is a summary of the 10 tips!

  1. Create a dark, cool, and quiet sleeping environment
  2. Have a consistent sleep time (and around 7-9 hours each day)
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Avoid late afternoon/evening naps and long naps
  5. Avoid light exposure (electronics, etc.) near bedtime
  6. Limit caffeine consumption in the afternoon/evening
  7. Limit alcohol assumption
  8. Avoid large mixed meals and unhealthy foods near bedtime
  9. Practice mindfulness techniques
  10. Weight loss

Optimising your bedtime environment

Optimising the bedroom environment is a key factor in improving sleep quality. Experts advise creating a dark, cool, and quiet space to enhance your sleep experience. Cooler temperatures in the bedroom are associated with more deep sleep, which is crucial for feeling rested and rejuvenated.

To reduce noise disruptions, consider using white noise machines or ear plugs. While there is no universally recommended sleep surface, position, or pillow, the most important aspect is personal comfort.

Choose a sleeping arrangement that feels most comfortable to you, as this significantly contributes to the quality of your rest.

Consistent sleep schedule

A consistent sleep schedule helps maintain the body’s internal clocks, reducing daytime sleepiness and allows people to fall asleep and wake up more easily.

Aligning with internal circadian rhythms has also been found to help optimise our mental health, endocrine system and reproductive system.

There are even links to increased risk of cardiovascular events with inconsistent sleep schedules.

Exercise

Exercise can provide many physical and mental benefits, including sleep quality. It is best to be active everyday, however the Australian Department of Health recommends 2.5-5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity, such as a walk, golf, mowing the lawn, or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity, such as jogging, soccer, cycling etc.

As long as getting exercise will not come at the expense of sleep duration, the National Sleep Foundation encourages any amount of exercise.

Exercise has been found it increase deep sleep as well as duration, however the exact mechanism of how it improves sleep is unclear.

Naps

Having naps too late in the afternoon can result in difficulty sleeping; naps can have potential benefits for the body, so if you consider napping, try do it in the early afternoon at a length of around 20-30 minutes.

Light exposure

Light exposure diminishes the secretion of melatonin (which improves your ability to sleep). Reducing both ambient light exposure and light from electronic devices promotes earlier sleep onset and improves sleep quality.

The general recommendation expects the greatest benefits from avoiding screen time over 90 minutes before bedtime. However, most recommendations such as from the National sleep foundation recommends 30 minutes as it is more feasible, and still produces benefits that many people do not take advantage of (we understand it’s very hard in this day and age!)

Caffeine consumption

Caffeine is typically used to increase alertness and decrease fatigue, however it can have negative sleep consequences. It can delay sleep onset, decrease sleep efficiency, and perceived sleep quality.

Not regarding genetic variation, caffeine has a half life of around 6-7 hours and as a result we recommend you to not take caffeine beyond mid day to increase the quality of sleep desired.

Limiting alcohol consumption

Alcohol disrupts sleep architecture, often resulting in awakening during the second half of the night, and generally decreasing REM sleep, sleep quality and duration.

Even though alcohol is a sedative and can ‘help’ people sleep, alcoholics suffer from profound insomnia, daytime sleepiness and abnormal sleep architecture, which is not any indication of improving sleep quality!

Eating before sleeping

It is advisable to avoid eating within 2 hours within desired bedtime; doing so is associated with shorter sleep duration and weight gain. It also promotes Gastroesophageal reflux disease, which disrupts sleep typically.

Practice mindfulness

Insomnia is often caused by the substantial and unwanted activation of the autonomic nervous system, whether it is due to anxiety or other genetic or environmental causes, many people struggle to sleep with difficulty of quieting the mind.

In this situation, focusing on breathing and mindfulness technique promotes parasympathetic activity which helps sleep initiation. These techniques are also good at decreasing worry, anxiety and stress, and have been proven effective in treating insomnia.

Weight loss

Can improve sleep by improving sleep breathing, improving sleep architecture and decreasing daytime sleepiness.

References

All work is cited and referred to from Baranwal et al. 2023 (https://www-sciencedirect-com.wwwproxy1.library.unsw.edu.au/science/article/pii/S0033062023000117?via%3Dihub)

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