World Sleep Day: 4 Things to Stop and Start Doing Before Bed
March 16th is World Sleep Day—a day when we celebrate sleep and take time to recognize the important issues related to sleep.
You may not have realized this, but getting the right amount of shut-eye and joint health actually have a lot to do with each other. This may be hard to believe if a sore hip is keeping you up at night or if you wake up feeling stiff, but sleep plays a role in how you avoid, manage, and recover from joint pain.
The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is a time for restoration and rejuvenation. As you sleep, synovial fluid builds up around your joints, which is what gives you that feeling of stiffness when you wake up. When you stretch and start moving your joints, that fluid is released, acting as a kind of lubrication.
Without this kind of restorative sleep, people are more likely to experience widespread pain. According to one three-year study, non-restorative sleep is the single biggest predictor of experiencing ongoing pain. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what the reason for this is precisely, pointing to multiple factors. However, the evidence is clear that getting a good night’s sleep does wonders for avoiding joint pain.
4 Things to Stop Doing Before Bed
It is estimated that at least one-third of all Americans suffer from at least a mild form of insomnia. While there will always be nights where you just can’t fall asleep, there is plenty you can do to set yourself up for a restful slumber.
Stop the Stimulants
caffeine and sugary foods can make it much harder to fall asleep. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep even if it is consumed 6 hours before bedtime. Sugary foods raise blood-glucose levels that can cause an adrenaline rush, making it harder to sleep.
Scratch the Screen Time
Television, tablet, and smart phone screens have invaded our bedrooms. The blue light they produce can trick your brain into thinking that the sun is still out and disrupt your circadian rhythm. So, put away all screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
Alcohol does a really great job of helping us fall asleep, but the problem is that it does a terrible job of keeping us asleep. The reason for this is because alcohol blocks your brain from reaching the deepest levels of sleep—the most restorative type of sleep. Alcohol should be limited to 1 or 2 drinks with a meal.
No More Naps
Taking a 20-minute power nap every once in a while is just fine, and it can do wonders to help you destress and revitalize your mind. However, napping can damage your sleep cycle if you are prone to taking longer naps, and it can keep you from getting the sleep you need at night.
4 Things to Start Doing Before Bed
The real secret to getting deep, restorative sleep is in making a few small changes to optimize your sleeping space. Throw away all those gadgets and gizmos, here’s all you need to do:
Make a Sleep Schedule
The best way to ensure that you will always get the right amount of sleep is to train your body to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day—including weekends. Once you start keeping a schedule, you’ll notice that it takes no effort to fall asleep at night and you might not even need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning.
Eat a Small Snack
You don’t want to overdo it, but eating a small, healthy snack before bed can help you fall and stay asleep. A lot of times, what wakes us up in the middle of the night is hunger. Eating something like a hardboiled egg or a 1 oz. piece of cheese can give your body just enough fat and protein to keep you satisfied the whole night through.
Get Your Room as Dark as Possible
That means that anything that makes even the slightest bit of light needs to be turned off, covered up, or thrown out. If there’s a lot of outside light coming in through your window, buy blackout curtains. Sleeping in total darkness helps the body produce melatonin, which makes us drowsy and helps us stay asleep.
Do Some Deep Breathing
One of the absolute best ways to destress is to practice deep breathing as you lay in bed at night. All you have to do is inhale deeply through your nose and slowly exhale through your nose. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes and you will notice yourself becoming drowsier as you start slowly drifting off.
One of the most common questions about sleep is about how much you need. The answer is, honestly, that sleep needs vary from person to person; however, 7 to 9 hours is the general range you should aim for to get all of sleep’s restorative value.
So, on this World Sleep Day, think about all the ways that better sleep can benefit you and make a plan to start getting the best sleep of your life.