Getting a good night of sleep is essential to restore your body and mind for a brand new day. If you’re not sleeping well or not enough, it can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Many factors can contribute to your quality of sleep from your daily habits to your sleep environment. If you’re not sleeping as well as you’d like, try using some of our tips to improve your quality of sleep.

man sleeping peacefully on his side in bed

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is important for your cardiovascular health and also your quality of sleep; especially if you work a sedentary job. It’s also one of the top science-backed strategies for improving your quality of sleep. Studies show that exercising regularly will improve every aspect of sleep and also help reduce symptoms of insomnia. One study showed that adults who exercise regularly took half the amount of time to fall asleep than if they didn’t exercise. As a result, it helped them get 41 more minutes of sleep per night!

Although exercising regularly can help your sleep tremendously, if you do it too late in the day it can have the opposite effect on your quality of sleep. This is due to the body’s natural response to exercise. It creates a stimulatory effect that increases hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine which increase alertness. This, however, varies per individual. Some patients don’t experience any sleep problems after exercising closer to bedtime.

Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day

Nearly 90% of the US population consumes caffeine. Caffeine offers numerous benefits like increased energy, alertness, and sports performance. However, drinking it too late in the day can impact your quality of sleep. Caffeine works by stimulating the nervous system. If you stimulate your nervous system too late in the day, your body won’t naturally relax at night.

Caffeine can stay in the bloodstream for six to eight hours after consumption. This is why it’s usually not recommended to consume large amounts of caffeine, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine. If you do get a craving for coffee or a caffeinated beverage towards the end of the day, consider a decaffeinated version instead.

Quit Smoking

You probably already know how smoking can cause cancer and increase your risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke, but did you know it can also impact your sleep? Cigarettes don’t contain just tobacco, they also contain a number of chemicals in addition to nicotine. Nicotine is responsible for raising your heart rate and alertness when you smoke. If you smoke a cigarette before bedtime, you won’t feel relaxed enough to fall asleep as quickly as you would without smoking.

Smoking can also increase your risk of having sleep apnea which can also greatly impact your quality of sleep. If you can’t quit smoking altogether, consider, at least, not smoking for a few hours before bedtime.

Don’t Drink Alcohol

A glass of red wine per night might offer some health benefits to your heart, but drinking more than a glass can impact your quality of sleep. Alcohol can cause disrupted sleep patterns, snoring, and increase your risk of sleep apnea. It also changes your body’s melatonin production which is important for your circadian rhythm. The change will cause disrupted sleep patterns and cause you to wake repeatedly throughout the night and spend the incorrect amount of time in the different sleep cycles.

Alcohol consumption at night can also decrease elevations of Human Growth Hormones (HGH) which also has an effect on your circadian rhythm. If you want a good night of sleep, skip the glass of wine and opt for an herbal tea instead.

Avoid Napping

Taking a nap is a good way to help you recharge if you’re sleep deprived or if you want to relax. However, napping for too long or at the wrong time of day can impact your future night of sleep. You should only take a nap if you’re experiencing unexpected sleepiness or fatigue, or you know you’re going to experience sleep loss in the future from a long shift at work or another reason. You might also want to nap if you’re recovering from an illness or injury.

If you do happen to take a nap, we recommend taking them in the early afternoon, no later than 3:00 PM, otherwise, it can interfere with your sleep at night. You should also keep naps short and aim to only sleep for 10 to 20 minutes to reduce grogginess afterward. To ensure you get the best night’s sleep possible, you should avoid napping unless absolutely necessary. Go to bed earlier if you’re that tired.

Rule Out a Sleep Disorder

If you’re waking up after a long night of sleep and you’re still not feeling rested or energized, you might have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea can impact your quality of sleep tremendously. Throughout the night, your airway becomes obstructed and it alerts your brain to wake you up to start breathing again. Although you might not remember these brief moments of waking up, it can happen hundreds of times per night and make a restful night of sleep nearly impossible.

To rule out a sleep disorder, we highly recommend that you take our Sleep Apnea Risk Quiz to determine if you need further evaluation. If our quiz tells you that you do, please schedule a new patient appointment with our sleep dentists in Omaha, NE. We will help you get diagnosed with your sleep disorder and help you find the right treatment option to improve your quality of sleep. Please call (402) 493-4175 today to get started.