If you've been having trouble getting adequate rest at night, you are literally tired of spending all day in a brain fog of exhaustion. Besides seeing your doctor for a sleep aid, what are some things you can do make restful sleep at night a reality? Here are four things you can do to help improve the length and quality of your sleep.
1. See a physical therapist or chiropractor.
Seeing a physical therapist or chiropractor can help with two aspects of sleep improvement: reducing pain and providing exercise programs that will help your body need rest. Chronic pain can keep you awake, but you may not even realize this. Maybe you have a hard time staying asleep because of pressure points in your hips or back. Maybe you constantly toss and turn because you are unable to get comfortable. These issues can be caused by deeper problems like misalignment in the hips and back, muscles that are too tight and unable to relax, or stress that manifests in joint and neck pain. Working through typical pain with a professional, such as a chiropractor from Burgman Chiropractic Clinic PC, can help your body to really relax into sleep.
A physical therapist can also help you devise a safe exercise program. This is especially helpful for those who have been injured in the past or who have special needs, like a medical condition that makes working out more challenging. Exercise is a key part of increasing sleep quality; one study showed that 150 minutes of moderate to more intense exercise each week led to a 65% increase in quality sleep.
2. Stop with daytime naps.
Many people with sleep issues mitigate the problem with an afternoon nap. However, lengthy naps make it more difficult to rest at night, and that creates a cycle of nap dependency. With a nap, you reduce your body's immediate need for rest, and that leads to less sleep at night. Less sleep at night means you'll be more likely to need a nap the following day. Break the cycle by reducing your nap length gradually. If you absolutely cannot go without a nap, try to limit your naps to "power naps" of 20 minutes or less.
3. Follow a healthful bed routine.
When people suffer with insomnia, they can develop unhealthful sleep habits that actually decrease their sleep quality even further. For example, when you can't sleep, it can be common to scroll through your phone looking for something to distract you from the late (or early) hour. Other habits include watching TV or reading in bed. While these may seem to help in the short term, they reduce sleep quality because the disrupt the production of hormones that make you tired.
Instead of relying on devices and distractions, use a meditation track to help you get back to sleep. One study showed that people who participated in mindfulness meditation were more likely to experience more fulfilling sleep, even above participants who attended a sleep-education class that recommended basic sleep-improvement skills, like reducing caffeine and screen time before bed. Practice deep breathing. Try to save your bed for sleep and meditation and leave TV watching and computer time for outside the bedroom.
4. Choose better foods.
Diet can be a big factor for restful sleep. Weight gain increases sleep conditions like sleep apnea, so choosing a healthful diet can promote weight loss. Choosing brain-boosting foods like fish, yogurt, and blueberries can also help with sleep. Caffeine intake is high among sleep sufferers, but it is also a huge factor in preventing you from getting the rest you need. Opt for water, and choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Avoiding sugars and other inflammatory foods can reduce pain and help your body heal.