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You Probably Forgot To Do This If You Can’t Sleep At Night

You Probably Forgot To Do This If You Can’t Sleep At Night

Winter is coming, and for many of us, that means bundling up in cozy blankets and pilling fluffy pillows on our bed to tempt us to hit the snooze button more than usual. Though turning up the heat before you turn into bed can seem appealing with cooler weather, you may find you don’t have such a restful night of sleep.

Though it sounds like a cozy bedroom creation, keeping your bedroom warm can make you more likely to overheat while you sleep. This can lead to excessive tossing and turning and even those embarrassing sweaty mornings.

The relationship between body temperature and sleep

Our body temperature is always changing and self-adjusting throughout the day.

    As you can see from the graph above, you’re coolest around 6am – the time many of us wake up. Throughout the day, you continue to get warmer until you peak around 9pm – the time many of us are getting ready to head to bed. From there, your body temperature drops until you reach your coolest point once again at 6am.

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    Have you ever realized how lazy you feel when you’re hot? It’s due to a physiological response our body gives off!

      It’s fighting against the temperature in an effort to keep from overheating. It’s the same reason you’re more likely to want to take a nap on a hot summer afternoon than you would be to play a sport. One will help regulate your body temp, while the other can overheat you and cause severe dizziness.

      By now you’ve heard about how important absolute darkness is for truly restful sleep, but did you know your body temperature is just as impactful?[1]

      “Combination of sleep onset and maintenance insomnia has been associated with a 24-h elevation of core body temperature supporting the chronic hyper-arousal model of insomnia. The possibility that these last two types of insomnia may be related to impaired thermoregulation, particularly a reduced ability to dissipate body heat from distal skin areas, has not been consistently supported in laboratory studies. Further studies of thermoregulation are needed in the typical home environment in which the insomnia is most evident.”

      The best temperature for restful sleep

      The optimal body temperature for sleep should be between 60 and 67 degrees.[2] When the room is too warm and you’re also bundled under a heavy comforter and surrounded by heavy pillows, the body temperature increases leading to discomfort.

      In most cases any temperature above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 54 degrees will interfere with your sleep.

      Keep your body temperature low to sleep better

      We could all use a better night’s sleep, so here’s how to be the master of your temperature and wake up ready to face the day.

      1. Keep the room temperature low

      If you keep your room relatively cool, you are far less likely to become overheated, leading to that restless sleep no one wants. In order to ensure ideal temperatures, try keeping your curtains closed during the day so the sun light can’t heat the bedroom too much. And if possible, leave your bedroom door open so that air can circulate throughout the day.

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      2. Use Breathable Bedding

      Synthetics like polyester, which tend to be less breathable than their natural counterparts like cotton, linen, or even wool are a no-no. Natural fibers can also help wick away moisture like sweat. Memory foam pillows may be comfortable but they also get very hot, so try to stay away. If you’re convinced you can’t sleep without a fancy pillow, look into those that have cooling and breathable fibers to ensure a low temp while you rest. For mattresses, or mattress covers, look for those with cooling fibers, too.

      3. Lower your temperature before you go to sleep.

      Take a warm bath, or hot shower, before bed. As soon as you step out of the bath or shower, your body temperature drops rapidly to re-regulate with the temperature of the room. That quick change physiologically can cause sleepiness.

      4. Stay away from anything that gives you heat.

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      Try not to use, or even look at, your mobile devices before bed. Along with keeping you interested and awake, the light also makes it hard for your brain to register that it’s bedtime. Likewise, keep the room dark when you’re trying to fall asleep. A sleep mask does an excellent job of blocking out all light, helping you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. And to ensure you stay cool, try wearing a cool face cloth to bed, or keep a water spray bottle for misting. It’s also a great idea to keep a glass of cold water next to the bed.

      Get some sleep!

      Remember, keep your bedroom cool and stay away from non-breathable fabrics when shopping for bedding. Though the fall and winter can have you craving heavy blankets and this pajamas, it’s not conducive to sleep and can leave you feeling overheated and generally unwell. Keep some ice water by your bedside and take a few sips if you find yourself waking up throughout the night. Don’t be afraid to peel back the blankets; you can always keep some extras nearby in case you wake up chilly.

      Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Jolie Choi

      Gone through a few heartbreaks and lost hundreds of friends but I am still happy with my life.

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      Published on June 12, 2019

      How to Sleep for Improved Health and Productivity

      How to Sleep for Improved Health and Productivity

      Have you ever wondered why your brain feels foggy and your body feels weary after days of burning the “midnight oil”? Well I’ve got just two words for you — inadequate sleep.

      Believe it or not, a good night’s sleep is just as important (if not more) as healthy eating and regular exercise, if you’re looking to live a maximally healthy and productive life.

      In this article, we’ll be looking at why sleep is so important, how much of it you need and simple science-backed tips on how to sleep that will help you make the most of sleep every night.

      So, sit back and relax as I take you on this life-transforming journey to improved health and productivity.

      Why Is Sleep so Important?

      There are so many health benefits that stem from getting a good night’s sleep. Contrary to what you may think, your body doesn’t actually “sleep” when you sleep. Rather, it is uses this period to carry out some serious “housecleaning” processes that help the mind and body function at maximum efficiency.

      Specifically speaking, though, here are some amazing benefits of a good night’s sleep:[1]

      • Help manage the appetite, thereby aiding weight loss
      • Boost the immune system
      • Help to lay off stress
      • Reduce the risk of certain cancers such as colon and breast cancer.
      • Promote memory, focus and proper brain functioning
      • Maintain a healthy heart by regulating the cholesterol levels and blood pressure
      • Reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, myocardial infarction and stroke[2]

      How Much Sleep Do You Need?

      Okay, now that it’s crystal-clear that you need sufficient sleep to keep ticking, just how much sleep is sufficient?

      Well, as far as sleep experts and research studies are concerned, you need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night before you can reap maximum benefits from sleep.[3]

      You can learn more about how much you should sleep in this article: Quality or Quantity? Why Don’t You Sleep On It

      How to Get the Best out of Sleep Every Single Night

      Here’re 10 simple yet power ways to help you sleep well:

      1. Stay Away from Blue Light at Bedtime

      Exposure to bright light during the day can be a good thing… but at night? Not so much. Research has shown that excessive light exposure prior to bedtime can disrupt sleeping patterns and affect overall sleep quality.

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      How exactly does this happen?

      There are two mechanisms behind it. First off, there’s something called the circadian rhythm. This is the body’s biological clock that regulates sleeping and waking up. However, during excessively bright nighttime conditions, (or under exposure to blue light from smartphones and laptops), the brain gets tricked into thinking it’s still daytime, therefore it reduces the production of sleep hormones.

      And that brings us to our next point — melatonin. Melatonin is also known as the sleep hormone, as it helps the body to relax and fall into deep sleep. And as earlier stated, the production of this hormone is significantly reduced under exposure to blue light generated by smartphones, TV and other electronic gadgets.

      So, if you’re used to playing video games, answering emails or tweeting late into the night, you need to put an end to that.[4] In addition, set an earlier bedtime for your electronics. Preferably, try and put your gadgets to sleep two hours before you hit the bed.

      However, if you must use these gadgets closer to your bedtime, then wear glass shades that block blue light or download applications like f.lux that can block blue light from laptops or smart-phones.[5]

      2. Practice Sleeping and Waking up at Regular Times

      Okay, listen up, if you want to get the best out of sleep, then you need to keep things consistent. That means you go to bed at a set time every single day and wake up at the specific time each morning. Research has shown that consistency with sleeping and waking up times greatly improves sleep quality.[6]

      Why is that so, you may ask?

      Well, as earlier stated, your body has a biological clock and that clock is linked to sunrise and sunset. So, maintaining a consistent bedtime every single day (including weekends) enables your body to release the necessary hormones at the perfect time. This enables you to enjoy a sound sleep through the night and wake up fresh and full of life.

      And while on the topic, you may want to consider saying goodbye to movie night, game night and all other nights that will hinder you from sticking to your bedtime. And yes, sleeping-in on weekends is totally off the cards, too, as it can lead to poor sleep.[7]

      Now, here’s a challenge — for the next 8 weeks, practice sleeping and waking up at the same time. By the end of the challenge, you might not even need an alarm clock any longer.

      3. Stay Away from Alcohol

      Okay, listen up, if you want to enjoy a sweet, deeply-refreshing night rest, then you need to steer clear of booze… especially close to bedtime.

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      Why on earth would I say that? Well, technically, I’m not the one saying it… it’s all science.

      According to a study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, it was reported that alcohol consumption at night induced sleep apnea and intense snoring in the tested subjects.[8]

      Another study reported a disruption in sleeping patterns among participants who took alcohol before sleep.[9] Other studies have also found that nighttime alcohol consumption affect s the production of melatonin, which consequently affects the body’s circadian rhythm.[10]

      Whichever way you look at it, alcohol is bad news for sleep. So, as tempting as that glass of wine may seem at 8 PM, stay away from it. Your reward will be a deep, refreshing sleep.

      4. Skip the Evening Cup of Coffee

      Who doesn’t love a nice cup of coffee every now and then? Yes, caffeine (in coffee) has a lot of health benefits, ranging from improved focus and energy, to enhanced athletic performance. So, it comes as no surprise that over 90% of Americans take caffeine in one form or the other.[11]

      But just like most good things in life, moderation is key when taking coffee, especially one containing caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, which by definition, means it simulates your nervous system to keep you awake and alert. Or in other words, keeps you from sleeping.

      Interestingly, caffeine can remain active in your system for 6 to 8 hours, which means if you take it too close to bedtime, you can kiss your sleep goodbye. In fact, research has revealed that consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bedtime can significantly worsen sleep quality.[12]

      So, what do you do? Keep coffee consumption to mornings and early afternoons. But once it’s 2 PM, say goodbye to coffee for the day. Trust me, you’ll be glad your did.

      5. Get a Quality Mattress and Pillow

      Have you ever wondered why you feel so much more comfortable and sleep better in a hotel? Well, there’s no magic behind it, it’s mostly about the quality of the bed.[13]

      When you sleep on a comfortable bed, you feel less pain and enjoy better sleep quality. Studies have also shown that a new mattress and bedding can significantly reduce back pain, back stiffness and shoulder pain, thereby improving sleep quality.[14]

      So, if you haven’t changed your mattress in a while, upgrading your mattress and pillow to new ones may be a great way of improving sleep quality. However, the choice of the “best mattress”[15] is highly subjective, so make sure you do your research before making a buying decision.

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      Here’s Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress and 10 Best Pillows To Choose For A Good Night Sleep

      6. Don’t Nap Too Long During the Day

      Taking a quick nap during the day is great, but if it becomes too long, it’ll most likely affect your sleep at night. Here’s why:

      Sleeping for long periods during the day can trick your internal biological clock into thinking it’s night time. And this may lead to trouble sleeping at night, as the body releases “wakefulness” hormones instead of sleep hormones.[16]

      Research has shown that the best day-time naps are usually no more than 30 minutes.[17] Longer naps tend to have negative quality on sleep quality. That said, if you’re used to daytime napping and you still sleep effortlessly at night, then you have nothing to worry about.[18]

      7. Take a Shower

      Never underestimate the power of a shower. Various research studies have shown that people can improve their overall sleep quality by taking a shower before hitting the bed. Even a simple foot bath does the job… especially in elders.[19]

      Although the specific mechanism behind this isn’t entirely clear, water does tend to have a relaxing effect on the body and this makes sleep much more enjoyable. Just take a look at How Night Shower Can Help You Sleep Better.

      So, if you’re looking for a cheap way of improving your sleep quality, a warm shower before bed isn’t a bad way to go.

      8. Empty Your Mind

      Sleeping isn’t merely a physical activity, it involves the mind just as much as the body. So, if you want to enjoy your sleep each night, you must learn to empty your mind. And there are different ways of achieving this.

      Studies have shown that various relaxation techniques such as reading a book, meditating, listening to soft music and having a relaxing massage, can significantly improve sleep quality. So, you can try various techniques to identify what works best for you. [20]

      Also, if you’re the type that worries about the next day a lot, it can help to get a diary and write down every task you need to take care of the following day and how you will get it done. This will help to calm your mind and make it easier to fall asleep.

      9. Exercise Regularly

      If you’ve been skipping exercise, you’ve been doing yourself a great disservice. Apart from the numerous physical and mental health benefits, it has also been shown to improve sleep quality.

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      For instance, in one study published in JAMA, it was reported that regular exercise significantly reduced the amount of time it took older adults to fall asleep and increased the normal duration of sleep by 40 minutes.[21] Another study reported that exercise was even more effective for insomnia patients than sleep drugs.[22]

      As great as exercise is, though, timing is also important. Experts believe that exercising too close to bedtime, can negatively affect sleep. This is due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, resulting from the release of hormones like adrenaline. So, if you must exercise in the evening, make it at least, three hours to your bedtime.

      10. Take Sleep Supplements

      Remember melatonin? The hormone that tells your body when to hit the bed and relax? Yep, it is available as supplements and you can take it to improve your sleep.

      In fact, research has shown that melatonin is one of the easiest means of falling asleep quickly. This is why it is commonly used as a treatment for insomnia.[23]

      Melatonin is a prescription drug in some countries, while in other countries, it can be purchased, over the counter. Either way, it is advisable to check in with your doctor before taking melatonin, since it’s a drug that can alter brain chemistry.

      There’re also these 8 Essential Vitamins And Minerals to Help You Sleep Better, depending on your needs.

      The Bottom Line

      Sleep is awesome! It’s the body’s way of keeping you in tip-top condition at all times. So, if you want to live in resounding health and be maximally productive day-in-day-out, then you need to make sleep a core part of your daily routine.

      And while at it, remember to target 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, as research has shown that the maximum benefits of sleep can be obtained within this time frame.

      Okay, that’s it! Start small, start somewhere, pick some (or all) of these tips and incorporate them into your daily life. The result will be a resounding sleep that will open the door to improved health and productivity.

      Featured photo credit: Rafal Jedrzejek via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Diet Fitness King: 7 Reasons Why Getting More Sleep Is Good For Health
      [2] PLoS One.: Association of Sleep Duration with Chronic Diseases in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam Study
      [3] Science Daily: World’s largest sleep study shows too much shut-eye can be bad for your brain
      [4] J Sleep Res.: Effects of playing a computer game using a bright display on presleep physiological variables, sleep latency, slow wave sleep and REM sleep.
      [5] Neuro Endocrinol Lett.: The impact of light from computer monitors on melatonin levels in college students.
      [6] J Sleep Res.: Investigating the interaction between the homeostatic and circadian processes of sleep-wake regulation for the prediction of waking neurobehavioural performance.
      [7] J Sleep Res.: Circadian preference, sleep and daytime behaviour in adolescence.
      [8] Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatrye: Alcohol, snoring and sleep apnea.
      [9] Am J Med.: Alcohol increases sleep apnea and oxygen desaturation in asymptomatic men.
      [10] J Clin Endocrinol Metab.: Ethanol inhibits melatonin secretion in healthy volunteers in a dose-dependent randomized double blind cross-over study.
      [11] J Am Diet Assoc.: Food sources and intakes of caffeine in the diets of persons in the United States.
      [12] J Clin Sleep Med.: Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed.
      [13] Am J Phys Med Rehabil.: Sleep disturbance in patients with chronic low back pain.
      [14] J Manipulative Physiol Ther.: Effectiveness of a selected bedding system on quality of sleep, low back pain, shoulder pain, and spine stiffness.
      [15] Best Mattress Review: Best Mattress 2019
      [16] Behav Neurosci.: Effects of sleep inertia after daytime naps vary with executive load and time of day.
      [17] Curr Opin Pulm Med.: Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults.
      [18] Behav Med. : The prevalence of daytime napping and its relationship to nighttime sleep.
      [19] Int J Nurs Stud.: Effect of foot bathing on distal-proximal skin temperature gradient in elders.
      [20] Am J Crit Care.: Effect of a back massage and relaxation intervention on sleep in critically ill patients.
      [21] JAMA: Moderate-intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults. A randomized controlled trial.
      [22] J Clin Sleep Med.: Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia.
      [23] J Sleep Res.: Prolonged-release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning alertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects.

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