Most of us are familiar with the age-old adage that nothing beats a restful night’s sleep. Despite making room for adequate sleep in your daily routine, falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night can be a challenging feat to accomplish. It may come as a surprise, but your daytime activities can significantly affect the quality of your sleep. Keep reading to find out which common habits during the day could be undermining your ability to get a good night’s rest.
“The Impact of Daytime and Blue Light on Sleep”
Maintaining a regular exposure to daylight is crucial for the proper functioning of the circadian rhythm, which serves as the body’s internal clock that regulates the sleep and wake cycle.
According to Mairav Cohen-Zion, the chief science officer of dayzz, sunlight serves as a critical signal to our brains that it’s time to be alert and awake, whereas a decrease in light indicates that it’s time for our body to prepare for sleep. So, how much sunlight do you need?
Cohen-Zion advises that individuals should strive to get a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight during the morning hours, and refrain from exposure to blue light in the two hours before going to bed. This practice can strengthen the sleep-wake cycle, leading to a more appropriate feeling of alertness or drowsiness at the appropriate time and setting.
It is worth noting that exposure to blue light during the daytime is not problematic and may even aid in falling asleep at night.
Research conducted in 2008 suggests that receiving a higher amount of blue light during daylight hours can enhance daytime alertness and lead to greater drowsiness in the evening.
As per sleep psychologist Samina Ahmed Jauregui, excessive exposure to blue light during the daytime has no effect on the sleep cycle. However, an overabundance of blue light in the evening can hinder the production of melatonin, thereby delaying its onset.
Melatonin is a hormone responsible for signaling the body that it’s time to sleep. Therefore, using electronic devices, such as phones, during the evening can deceive the body into assuming it’s not yet time for bed.
“According to Jauregui, melatonin plays a crucial role in facilitating the onset of sleep. The suppression of melatonin production caused by exposure to blue light can result in staying awake for an extended period.
Long naps in the daytime
Although one might assume that taking a nap during the day can assist in compensating for missed sleep, it can actually be counterproductive.
Victoria Wildhorn, a sleep health expert at Mattress Clarity, advises limiting daytime naps to a short duration. She explains that if the nap is prolonged enough to allow for a deep sleep, it may be challenging to wake up from the nap and lead to difficulty in falling asleep later that night.
What’s the ideal amount of time to nap?
According to Jauregui, brief naps that are limited to 15 to 20 minutes can enhance productivity and rejuvenate you. However, extended naps or naps taken later in the day (after 3 p.m.) can diminish the urge to sleep and result in difficulty falling or staying asleep at night.
Last year, a survey conducted by Best Mattress Brand collected responses from 500 individuals who made their beds in the morning and 500 individuals who did not.
As per the survey results, individuals who made their beds in the morning displayed higher productivity levels, consumed healthier foods, and reported a sense of achievement at the end of the day. Furthermore, bed-makers enjoyed an additional 20 minutes of sleep on average, experienced lesser trouble falling asleep, and felt more refreshed upon waking up in the morning.
According to Rosie Osmun, a certified sleep science coach from Sleep Junkie, making your bed in the morning may not be a direct contributor to better sleep. However, it does play a crucial role in the grand scheme of things.
Making your bed in the morning could potentially signal to your brain that you’ve accomplished a task, setting a productive tone for the day ahead. While it may not directly impact the quality of your sleep, it could be part of a larger routine that promotes a healthy sleep schedule.
According to Osmun, a positive and productive start to your day can have a significant impact on your sleep quality. Making your bed in the morning can put you in a productive mindset that can positively affect your entire day, including your evening routine when you prepare for bed.
According to her, making the bed in the morning leads to a more pleasant experience when getting into bed at night. So, try making your bed daily.
It’s recommended to avoid spending time in bed during the day as it may mislead your body into considering it a place for staying awake, and interfere with your sleep-wake cycle. It’s essential to maintain a consistent circadian rhythm.
Disrupting sleep schedules may occur from deviating from weekly routines to indulge on weekends, tempting as it may be to let loose.
Sleeping in and staying up later on weekends can disrupt your circadian rhythm, warns against throwing it off.
Poor sleep quality may result from an inconsistent sleep schedule and irregular bedtime, as suggested by a 2009 study (Trusted Source).
For better sleep quality, aim to maintain a similar sleep schedule on weekdays and weekends by waking up and going to bed around the same time.
Timing is crucial when it comes to exercising and its effects on sleep quality; it can influence your circadian rhythm. Nonetheless, exercise has been proven to enhance sleep.
According to a 2019 study, working out in the morning at 7 a.m. or in the afternoon from 1-4 p.m. may lead to earlier feelings of sleepiness in the evening, while exercising in the evening between 7-10 p.m. may delay the body’s internal clock.
t is advisable to avoid evening workouts and try to exercise before 7 p.m. to ensure that you get your daily movement in without disrupting your sleep schedule.
Engaging in mentally or emotionally stimulating activities like reading, problem-solving, or intense conversations can hinder sleep, despite their perception as end-of-day tasks.
According to Jauregui, an overactive mind can keep you awake despite physical exhaustion. Mental stimulation can lead to restless sleep and even cause more vivid or disturbing dreams, highlighting the mind’s power over the body.
Soothing vs stimulating scents
Enhance your sleep quality with the aid of an aromatherapy diffuser placed near your bed. Scent has a significant impact on sleep, and utilizing a diffuser can promote a restful night’s sleep by encouraging relaxation.
According to aromatherapist and life coach Julie Leonard, essential oils can assist in achieving better sleep, but caution must be exercised to avoid certain oils.
Medication side effects
It has been found that medication usage can disrupt sleep patterns, potentially causing insomnia.
A study conducted in 2020 revealed that a growing number of Americans are taking pharmaceutical drugs to manage their medical conditions, despite the risk of developing insomnia as a side effect. Moreover, the study found that taking multiple medications can raise the probability of experiencing insomnia.
In the study, 239 medications consumed by the participants were found to have insomnia as a side effect. However, it was acknowledged that this figure did not account for all U.S. market medications with insomnia side effects.
Consult with your doctor if you suspect that your medication is hindering your sleep quality. Your doctor can recommend potential substitutes or alternatives.
While some individuals may smoke to unwind, it may not be the ideal choice before sleeping
According to Jauregui, smoking before bed or during the night can induce nicotine cravings while you sleep, resulting in sleep disturbances. Such cravings are likely to arouse you from sleep or worsen sleep quality.
Insomnia has a significant correlation with smoking during the night, as per a study conducted in 2021.
Ensuring adequate hydration during the day can aid in getting a good night’s sleep.
In a study conducted in 2018, U.S. and Chinese adults who slept for shorter durations had higher dehydration rates.
Drinking water frequently during the day can help maintain sufficient fluid levels until morning. Consider drinking 8 ounces of water an hour prior to sleeping, allowing enough time to use the restroom first.
The impact of certain vitamins on sleep can either be positive or negative.
In 2018, a study discovered that vitamin B6 supplements led to increased sleep scores and reduced morning fatigue, as opposed to B complex supplementation.
A study conducted in 2007 found that individuals who took multivitamins or several single vitamins experienced poorer sleep than those who didn’t take vitamin supplements. Vitamin users displayed more nighttime awakenings, longer time awake during the night, higher sleep medication usage, and greater likelihood of experiencing insomnia than non-users.
Consult with a physician to determine if you require additional vitamins in your diet or if you’re overconsuming others.
Hot bath or shower
Although a warm bath before bedtime may appear to help you unwind, it might make it more challenging to fall asleep.
The increase in body temperature resulting from taking a hot bath or shower can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
In order to facilitate sleep, the ideal temperature for bathing or showering before bed is tepid, according to Osmun. When it’s too warm, your body temperature rises, making it more difficult to fall asleep. This is due to the fact that to sleep, your body temperature needs to decrease
By taking a lukewarm shower or bath before bed, your body temperature will have a chance to decrease before you hit the sack. This rise and fall in temperature replicates the normal temperature drop that happens before sleep, stimulating your body and mind to relax and fall asleep more easily.
A frigid shower can be too stimulating for the body, despite the need for a drop in body temperature before sleep.
According to Osmun, it’s best to take cold showers in the morning and warm showers in the evening.
Coffee after dinner
It can be difficult to resist having an afternoon coffee, even though caffeine is known to cause alertness and difficulty sleeping.
Wildhorn suggests refraining from consuming caffeine in the afternoon and evening to enhance your sleep quality.
Consider replacing your afternoon coffee with herbal tea or warm, spiced milk.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol may negatively impact the quality of your sleep despite the initial drowsiness it can cause.
According to Wildhorn, while alcohol can initially help you fall asleep, excessive consumption can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle and interfere with REM sleep, which is essential for cognitive function and emotional well-being.
Alcohol may have a sedative effect on the body, but it can also interfere with the quality of your sleep. It can cause you to wake up during the night or have unsettling dreams, which may result in feeling groggy and unrefreshed in the morning.
Drinking can induce sleepiness, but it doesn’t provide the restful sleep you require.
According to Jauregui, drinking alcohol can cause people to cycle between deep and light sleep throughout the night, leading to feeling unrefreshed upon waking up. This disrupted sleep pattern can leave you feeling more tired than rested.
Hot sleeping space
According to Jauregui, as we progress through the sleep cycle, our body temperature naturally increases. A sleep environment that is too warm can be uncomfortable, leading to interruptions in the sleep cycle and a restless night’s sleep.
Lowering the temperature in your bedroom before going to bed can improve your sleep quality. A cool environment can help your body maintain the natural drop in body temperature that occurs when you sleep. You can achieve this by opening a window or turning on a fan for a short while in the evening.
You can easily modify your daily routine to improve your sleep with these simple tips.
In case the above adjustments fail to improve your sleep, it is recommended to consult a physician for further guidance and possible treatments to establish a regular and healthy sleep routine.