How to improve your sleep quality without pills or doctors: 3 steps to effectively fight insomnia

By SSPDaily editionMar 6, 2024 09:54 AMHealth
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How to improve your sleep quality without pills
How to improve your sleep quality without pills. Source: pexels.com

If you feel like you're periodically drawn to sleep during the day, don't puzzle over the reasons why. It's very simple: you simply don't get enough sleep at night. Obviously, this is due to a sleep disorder. If it reassures you, you are not alone in this problem.

Shape writes, "According to the latest data, approximately 30% of the world's population suffers from some form of insomnia, 23% call their sleep of poor quality, and about a third say that over the past year the situation has only worsened in this regard." SSPDaily told more about it.

What is the cause of the insomnia "epidemic"?

According to Michael Breus, PhD, clinical psychologist, sleep medicine expert and founder of The Sleep Doctor, in a world of uncertainty, fears and stress, sleep is not a priority for most people. "Many people don't even think about sleep until late at night. By this time, they don't have time to get out of their active state, and when they go to bed, their brains continue to sleep."

"As much as we would like," he says, "to make falling asleep and staying asleep as easy as flipping a switch, our bodies don't work that way. Sleep disorders, illness, stress, lifestyle, medications: all these are the reasons that work against us and a normal night's rest."

However, he believes that this problem can be solved. According to Breus, you only need to take 3 steps to get a good night's sleep again.

3 steps to effectively improve sleep quality

"If you ask 100 people what 'better sleep' means to them, you're likely to get 100 different answers," Dr. Breus says.

"Ambiguous goals often create ambiguous paths to success," he says. "I think you need to define your goals precisely when it comes to sleep, and that's best done by outlining what it is you want to accomplish or how you want to feel."

Maybe you need more energy during the workday to stay awake in meetings. Or maybe you dream of sleeping more soundly so that you don't have to make a choice of sleeping or working. Or if you often wake up at night to go to the bathroom, reducing the number of trips you make may be your number one priority.

Step 1: Be consistent

Dr. Breus says that a consistent lifestyle will let your body know what to expect, including when to go to bed. A regular schedule is especially important when it comes to wake-up times.

"When you wake up, your brain resets the 'melatonin timer,' so when your wake-up time changes, so does your melatonin production," Dr. Breus says. "Melatonin is the key that starts the sleep engine, and a deficiency makes falling asleep difficult," he adds.

Therefore, to improve sleep, it is important to create a consistent daily routine. To avoid breaking it, turn on your alarm 1 hour before bedtime to remind yourself that it's time to get ready for bed.

Step 2: Schedule time for stress-relieving activities

Dr. Breus estimates that about 75% of his patients diagnosed with insomnia experience anxiety, which ultimately leads to sleep deprivation. "Biologically, anxiety increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cognitive activity, which are three things you definitely don't want to increase either before bed or while trying to fall asleep," he says.

Ideally, your heart rate should be no higher than 60 to enter a state of sleep, and if you feel agitated and your nervous system is in fight-or-flight mode, it won't be easy.

Excessive planning, trying to "get everything done," and increased stress for any reason can increase your arousal threshold, and with it the likelihood that you will wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep.

Here are 2 simple daily actions to help create the conditions for better sleep:

  • Exercise at the same time every day to finish your workout no later than 2 ½ hours before bedtime.
  • Disconnect. Things like meditation, breathing exercises, exercise equipment, reading, talking to a pet or a loved one all have a positive effect on sleep quality. Try a few ways and see what relaxes you the most.

Step 3: Eat right

"An excess of fatty and spicy foods, as well as calories in general, interfere with sleep at night. On the other hand, foods and beverages containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, melatonin, and tryptophan make for better sleep," says a review published in the journal Nutrients.

In addition, for a few weeks, doctors recommend using a sleep app or tracker and keeping a food diary so that you can compare the data and see what you ate and drank before going to bed. In this way, you will identify common trends and determine what prevents and helps you fall asleep.

Foods rich in melatonin:

  • pistachios
  • almonds
  • cow's milk
  • tart cherries
  • mushrooms
  • eggs

Dr. Breus says that spicy and fatty foods, as well as coffee and alcohol, which have a bad effect on sleep, should not be eaten the night before bedtime. He advises limiting caffeine consumption to once a day, about 90 minutes after waking up, and alcohol consumption to 2 glasses of wine, no later than 3 hours before bedtime.

When should I see a doctor?

Don't ignore sleep problems. And if you experience sleep disturbances more than two nights a week for three to four weeks, consult a doctor before the disorder becomes chronic.

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