It’s well known that getting regular, restorative sleep is one most important foundations for good overall health.
However, the modern world can sometimes make it difficult to switch off and ensure that we’re sleeping as well as we can.
With the distractions of technology and changing schedules, ensuring that you’re getting the best sleep possible can be something of a challenge.
We spoke to Peter Walters, PhD, Professor of Applied Health Science at Wheaton College in Illinois, to hear some of his recommendations when it comes to the best habits for supporting good sleep.
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1) Stick To A Consistent Sleep Schedule
“The number one recommendation is to establish a consistent sleep schedule,” Walters explains.
“When individuals go to bed at varying times during the week or on the weekend, it’s like traveling to a different time zone. The body hates this!
“Shift workers consistently report high levels of troubled sleep. While they may make more money doing this, your body pays a heavy price.”
2) Develop A Bedtime Routine
“Similar to the number one recommendation – is developing a routine before sleep,” says Walters. “Mothers know the value of establishing a bedtime ritual.
“This habit prepares the mind and body to begin winding down for a night of rest.”
3) Exercise During The Day
“Get regular exercise,” advises Walters. “Older individuals often have a challenging time going to sleep and staying asleep.
“Several studies demonstrate that regular exercise helps alleviate both of these conditions.”
4) Create A Quality Sleeping Environment
“The last recommendation is to create a quality sleeping environment,” Walters says.
“By this, I’m referring to a host of factors such as a quality mattress and sheets, white noise, shades, controlled temperature, etc.
“While this is often given the most attention, I think the science suggests that this is the least important (in light of the top three points above).”
Anything Else To Consider?
As Walters points out, designing a helpful bedtime routine can be a powerful tool in helping to prepare your body and mind for sleep.
According to personal trainer and coach Max Lowery, some of the keys to an effective bedtime routine include planning your day the night before, and gradually reducing your exposure to artificial light during the evening.
“My bedtime routine is really powerful for helping me switch off gradually,” explains Lowery. “I dim the lights once it starts to get dark, I turn my phone and the TV off, I get rid of any electronic stimulation.
“I then usually clean my apartment and get myself ready for the next day. It means that I’m not lying there in bed thinking about all the stuff I have to do for the next day. I then do some stretching or meditation, and I’ll go to sleep.”
Wrapping Things Up – Final Thoughts
If you’re just starting to look at ways to improve your sleep, then sticking to a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can be a great place to start.
Having a consistent bedtime routine can also help to prepare your body and mind for a restful night, and regular exercise during the day can make it easier for you to fall – and stay – asleep.
Finally, ensuring that your room is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature, can help to create an optimal sleeping environment.