Woman laying on the bed sleeping with a smile on her face.

How to Improve Your Sleep: 7 Tips For More High-Quality Rest

Sleep plays a large role in the overall health of the human body. The recommended number of hours of sleep a night varies with different factors such as pregnancy, sleep deprivation, and sleep quality, but is mainly associated with age. Sleep needs vary with each age range:

  • Newborn to 3 months old: 14-17 hours;
  • 4 to 11 months old: 12-15 hours;
  • 1 to 2 years old: 11-14 hours;
  • 3 to 5 years old: 10-13 hours;
  • 6 to 13 years old: 9-11 hours;
  • 14 to 17 years old: 8-10 hours;
  • 18 to 25 years old: 7-9 hours;
  • 26 to 64 years old: 7-9 hours;
  • 65+: 7-8 hours.

A good night's rest promotes physical and mental health and is necessary in order to function properly throughout the day. Despite it being an important factor in health quality, studies show that 1 in 3 adults don't get enough sleep. Whether it be a busy work schedule, a sleep disorder, or stress, it can be difficult to get the sleep that is needed. Here are 7 tips on to help improve sleep for more high-quality rest.


1. Create Healthy Sleep Habits

High-quality rest can't begin without first establishing healthy sleep habits. Healthy sleep habits, or "sleep hygiene," refers to the variety of healthy habits that improve the ability to fall and stay asleep. These can consist of:

  • Going to sleep at the same time each night;
  • Waking up at the same time every morning;
  • Keeping naps throughout the day short;
  • Creating a bedtime routine (take a warm bath, read, brush teeth, etc.);
  • Using the bedroom for sleep only, don't eat or watch TV in bed;
  • Limiting the exposure to bright lights in the evening;
  • Reducing fluid intake before bed;
  • Exercising daily;
  • Sleeping on a comfortable bed.

2. Watch What You Consume

Diet affects sleep in different ways. Foods and beverages that are high in sugars or carbs have physical effects on the body. This can include fluctuations in blood sugar levels, resulting in feelings of fatigue, and creating problems in daily routines and sleep patterns. A sleep diet should look like a diet that is used to try and control weight. These sleep-promoting meals consist of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy. Portion control is also an important aspect of following a healthy sleep diet.

Although there is no scientific proof, connections have been made with different eating habits affecting dreams. People often believe that different foods can impact dreams and sleep; cheese may cause vivid dreams, chocolate is linked to violent nightmares, garlic may make dreams crazier, turkey could make people sleepier, and apple juice can cause lucid and memorable dreams.

If hunger before bed is an issue and waiting until morning isn't an option, try eating a light snack, such as yogurt or low-sugar cereal, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. This type of diet helps minimize shifts in the body's energy levels.


3. Power Down

Using electronics such as smartphones, TVs, and laptops before bed can cause alertness that people aren't aware of. This is caused by the blue light that is emitted from the electronic screens. Blue LED light negatively affects sleep because it decreases the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, more than any other type of light.

Limiting the use of electronics should improve sleep. However in some cases - like for work or school - using electronics before bed is necessary. For these cases, eyeglasses that have lenses with Crizal coating have been created to help block the blue tint that is emitted from devices, making it easier to fall asleep once the work is done. Blue-tint-blocking glasses aren't required for safety reasons, since there is no harm done from the blue light itself. However, they are widely recommended for those who are frequently using electronics to prevent the loss of melatonin.

If you already wear glasses, try switching to a pair at night that has these blue-light-blocking properties. This will allow you to see clearly without having to worry about blue light affecting your sleep.


4. Design a Calming Bedroom

Your bedroom is where you sleep, and as such, it should be a calming environment that helps relax you. If it's too stimulating, cluttered, or makes you feel anxious, try to clean up or re-decorate so it makes you feel more relaxed. Soothing decorating ideas for a bedroom include:

  • Choosing the right color scheme; usually light blues, greens, and greys;
  • CUse aromatherapy to release calming scents like lavender into the air;
  • CWarm, soft lighting creates a cozy atmosphere;
  • CUse soft textures, like knit blankets on a blanket ladder, to decorate the room;
  • CLive houseplants provide a pop of color, and plants like aloe vera and spider plants work as natural air purifiers.

Small changes like hiding wires or changing light bulbs can also help to prevent the anxious feeling that often accompanies a room full of clutter.


5. Avoid or Limit Naps

There are benefits to napping, but it is important to understand the difference between napping and a full night's rest. Naps can be helpful and increase daily productivity, enhance performance, and improve the overall mood, but this is only true if the nap lasts between 10-20 minutes. This is because napping for 10-20 minutes allows you to enter the first stage of the sleep cycle. Entering a deeper sleep causes the brain to become less responsive to external stimuli, making it difficult to wake up, and often leaving you more fatigued than when you first entered the nap. Additionally, taking too long of a nap can make it harder for people to fall asleep at night, ruining their nighttime routine.


6. Find Time to Relax

With a busy schedule, it can be difficult to find time during the day to focus on relaxing. Dedicating even five minutes or less to relaxing can be beneficial to sleeping habits. Relaxing activities to improve sleep may include:

  • Connecting with your breathing;
  • Having a cup of tea;
  • Meditating;
  • Finding alone time to be with your thoughts;
  • Seeking out natural sunlight;
  • Stretching;
  • Reading;
  • Yoga.

7. Prioritize Sleep

Improving sleep habits won't matter if sleep isn't a priority in your life. Practicing one night of good sleep habits won't make a difference in the long run. This change in habits will require repetition and dedication. Implementing these tips for better sleep will make you excited to go to bed, knowing that you should feel well-rested when you wake up.