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The Unexpected Way to Improve Everything About Your Sleep Quality

The Unexpected Way to Improve Everything About Your Sleep Quality

By now, most of us know the basics about getting good sleep — go to bed at the same time every night, set the alarm for the same time every morning, avoid screens in the hour leading up to bedtime, and, of course, implement a relaxing pre-bedtime routine.

This is all sound advice, but it won’t do anything for you if you’ve overlooked one of the most powerful factors involved in determining sleep quality: snoring.

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If you’re a snorer, then you’re jeopardizing every aspect of your sleep quality, regardless of if you make it a point to go to bed at 10 o’clock on the dot every night, or not. To counteract that, here’s how you can improve everything about your sleep and eliminate snoring from your life altogether.

The Consequences of Snoring

Snoring is very common. In fact, up to 45 percent of adults snore when they sleep sometimes.[1] Snoring occurs when air can’t move freely through the mouth and nose of a sleeping person, causing the surrounding tissues to vibrate and make that chainsaw-tearing-through-a-log sound. It can be caused by everything from nasal and sinus issues to age, sleeping position, medications, mouth anatomy (e.g. bulky throat tissue or a long soft palate), weak muscles in the throat and tongue, or obstructive sleep apnea (a more serious condition that can cause a person to fully stop breathing at times throughout the night).[2]

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Just because snoring is common doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Snoring on a regular basis can not only decrease your sleep quality, but it can also harm your health. For starters, snoring impacts sleep stages in a negative way.[3] The various stages of sleep include the well-known REM (rapid eye movement) stage, as well as NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stages.

During high-quality sleep, the sleeping body cycles through these stages, each of which provides physiological benefits. Unfortunately, snorers don’t get most of these benefits because their snoring disrupts the natural sleep cycle and prevents their bodies from reaching the most restorative stages of sleep.

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Given all this, it’s no wonder snorers often suffer from daytime sleepiness! But that’s not the only consequence of snoring. The sleep deprivation and low-quality sleep[4] resulting from snoring can cause chronic fatigue, frequent headaches, weight gain, irritability, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, and an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, arrhythmias, mental health issues, such as depression, and even shorter lifespans.[5] And if your snoring prevents your partner from getting quality sleep, it can also place a strain on your relationship.

So if you’re suffering from any of these conditions, or you simply want to improve your sleep quality, it’s possible snoring might be the root cause of all your sleeping woes.

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Simple Ways to Stop Snoring

If you’ve determined that snoring is destroying your sleep quality, then you’re not without hope. The following strategies can help you reduce your snoring and significantly improve your sleep:

  • Stop smoking and drinking. Smoking inflames the tissues in your upper airway, which significantly ups the chance that you’ll snore.[6] Alcohol, meanwhile, relaxes your throat muscles, which can also increase your snoring risk. While it’s best to quit smoking entirely, you don’t need to go cold turkey on alcohol—just try to avoid drinking within three hours of your bedtime.
  • Work out. Regular exercise doesn’t just tone your arms and legs—it can also strengthen the muscles in the throat, which can reduce your chances of snoring.[7] Working out can also facilitate weight loss, which has been linked to a reduction in snoring.
  • Get tested. If you suffer from chronic nasal or sinus issues, then you may have allergies you aren’t aware of.[8] Getting tested will allow you to identify irritants in your life and remove them so you’re less likely to experience congestion, which can cause snoring. It might also be helpful to clear your nasal passages before bed using a decongestant, nasal strips, or a Neti pot.
  • Use a humidifier. Some people find their congestion and/or allergies are aggravated by dry air, so using a humidifier in your bedroom at night might provide relief from these conditions—and, by extension, relief from snoring.
  • Prioritize hydration. When we’re dehydrated, everyday secretions from our nose and soft palate become more viscous, which can up the chances of snoring. In contrast, staying hydrated allows fluids to move more easily through the body. This also allows air to flow more easily through the mouth and nose (instead of getting caught in sticky secretions), which can limit snoring.
  • Keep it clean. Dust and dust mites can provoke allergies that, in turn, provoking snoring. Make a point of dusting the surfaces in your bedroom once a week, and clean (or replace) your pillows on a regular basis in order to limit your exposure to potential allergens.
  • Help your partner. If your partner is suffering from poor sleep quality as a result of your snoring, then it will be good for their health (and your relationship) if you do what you can to ease their plight. Consider experimenting with different sleeping positions to see if any of them help, purchasing ear plugs for your partner, or investing in a mattress for couples, which can help increase your partner’s physical comfort and thereby potentially make it easier for them to stay asleep through your snores.[9]
  • Consider oral devices. If the other strategies on this list aren’t providing relief, it might be time to up the ante with an oral device. There’s a tremendous variety of mouthpieces on the market, so expect to experiment with several brands until you find the one that works best for you.

If you’ve tried all the strategies on this list and nothing has helped your snoring, then it’s probably time to consult a physician. Snoring can seriously impact your sleep quality and, by extension, your quality of life—so it’s worth investing the time and energy to figure out how you can quit snoring for good.

Reference

[1]WebMD: 7 Easy Fixes for Snoring
[2]Mayo Clinic: Snoring Causes
[3]Quit Yer Snoring: Stages of Sleep and How they Affect Your Snoring
[4]National Sleep Foundation: Snoring and Sleep
[5]Everyday Health: 11 Health Risks of Snoring
[6]Psychology Today: Snoring May Be a Warning of Serious Health Risk
[7]HelpGuide: How to Stop Snoring
[8]The Sleep School: Top Ten Tips to Stop Snoring
[9]National Sleep Foundation: Partners & Sleep

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Entrepreneur

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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