According to the National Sleep Foundation, the quality and quantity of sleep can make the difference between athletes winning or losing (read our article on the Importance of Sleep on Training Goals here). REM sleep in particular provides energy to the body and brain, eliminating fatigue and helping people focus better during a workout. As such, knowing how to improve sleep quality is every bit as important as the right diet and exercise is. Here are some tips you can use to ensure a deeper, more restful night’s sleep.
#1. Maintain a Consistent Schedule
If you want to know how to improve sleep quality, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is at the top of the list. Go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, even when you are on vacation. This will help to set your internal clock so that falling asleep each night will be easier. However, if you do not fall asleep within 15 minutes, you should get out of bed and do something relaxing such as reading a book. Tossing and turning in bed can actually cause more stress and may make it even more difficult for you to eventually nod off.
#2. Develop a Bedtime Routine
You should also create a bedtime routine each evening to signal your body that it is time to wind down. Doing things such as taking a warm bath or moisturizing your face will help relax you mentally so that you are ready to fall asleep when you do lay down. Avoid stimulating activities such as watching television, and perform your routine with the lights down to help you transition from being awake to going to sleep.
#3. Create a Comfortable Environment
The Mayo Clinic recommends sleeping in a room that is cool, dark, and quiet. The ideal temperature is thought to be somewhere between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that if you want to know how to improve sleep quality, you may need to turn your thermostat down at night. Use room-darkening shades to block out light, along with earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out sounds. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and not too worn-industry experts recommend replacing your mattress every ten years or so.
#4. Get more Outdoor Light
The answer to how to improve sleep quality surprisingly involves getting more sunlight each day. According to Dan Pardi of the Behavioral Sciences Department of Stanford University, people in Western cultures are not getting enough outdoor light exposure during the day, something that can cause circadian rhythms to become out of sync. Circadian rhythms have been associated with the production of growth hormone, which is essential for the repair and restoration of several bodily processes.
Knowing how to improve sleep quality is important, as sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of everything from obesity to diabetes. Implement these simple tips, and you should find yourself resting more comfortably at night and having more mental and physical energy during the day.