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Now that we have established why sleep is vital to our body’s recovery, let’s address how to improve the quality of sleep.
Here is a list of evidence-based factors that can be changed to improve sleep.
1. Limit Night-Time Blue Light Exposure.
The circadian rhythm is our internal clock that lets our body know when it’s time to wake up and go to sleep based on sunrise and sunset. Exposure to light is important to maintain daytime wakefulness, but too much light at night can trick our body into thinking it’s still daytime. Blue light, which is emitted by cell phones/computers/TV’s negatively affects circadian rhythm and sleep quality when used excessively at night. Restrict electronic device usage in the bedroom, and/or use blue light blocking glasses to minimize its effect on sleep.
2. Consistent Bed-Time/Wake Time.
Our circadian rhythm gets disrupted with irregular bedtimes and wake times. Make sure to set consistent bedtimes/wake times (if possible, even on the weekends!)
3. Bedroom Environment (noise/light/temperature)
Perfecting your bedroom environment is essential for quality sleep. If you sleep near a busy street, use white noise to dampen traffic noise that can cause wakefulness. Utilize blinds in order to decrease outside light if street/house lights enter through bedroom windows. Also, make sure the temperature is not too warm. 70° F has been shown in research to be a comfortable temperature for many.
Exercise helps improve sleep quality, if not done too late at night. Late-night exercise can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which can negatively impact quality ZZZ’s.
5. Limit Fluids Before Bed.
Restrict the number of fluids consumed 1-2 hours before going to bed. Fluids before bed can interrupt sleep by increasing nighttime bathroom trips.