We can’t stress enough why having a good night’s sleep is important. It is the secret to a healthy life. In fact, it is as important as a good diet and regular exercise.
Your sleep enables several brain functions, including how the neurons will communicate with each other. In fact, you are able to carry out more tasks when you are well-rested, not to mention work more productively and focus on your health.
If you are suffering from a lack of sleep, you may want to go and check your diet and lifestyle habits. From heart disease, high blood pressure to developing low immunity, insufficient sleep can often lead to various health problems.
But did you know that the way you sleep at night also can affect the quality of your sleep? Let’s take a look at some of the most common sleeping positions and how they affect your sleep.
What Is The Best Way To Sleep At Night?
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1. Fetal position
This position is common among children and old people.
- It can help reduce lower back pain
- Many pregnant mums can also benefit from this sleeping position as long as the body is loose.
2. Sleeping on the back
If you are wondering what is the best way to sleep at night, then this position takes home the prize.
- Sleeping on the back can improve your body’s alignment and will help your spine, joints, and muscles stay healthy.
- It is a great posture for those who are suffering from sleep apnea, back pain, and even snoring.
- It can also provide relief in terms of easing knee and hip pain.
3. Sleeping on the stomach
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It is one of the most common sleeping positions. But it can be lead to neck and back pain and affect your sleep pattern. That does not, however mean that it doesn’t have any benefits.
- This sleeping position can tackle the problem of snoring to some extent. That’s because gravity effectively pulls down on your tongue and soft tissues, opening up the airway.
- If you are suffering from sleep apnea, you can also benefit by sleeping on your stomach. The same principle of gravity works here too.
4. Sleeping sideways
Left side: Sleeping on the left side is a very comfortable position. This posture can provide relief from issues of snoring and sleep apnea. It is also a good position for women in their second trimester as it promote the best blood flow to your baby and all your organs.
However, this position is not for everyone. When you are sleeping on your left, the lungs may weigh heavily on the heart, put a strain on the heart’s function. Sleeping on the left side can also give rise to shoulder, lower back and lower hip pain.
The best way to avoid these issues to change your position once during the night, if possible. Alternatively, you can cushion your position with a sleeping pillow.
Right side: Sleeping on the right side can ease your hip and shoulder pain.
When you are sleeping at night on your right side, you may be adding pressure to the nerves of the right arm or leg. This may lead to compression injuries or neuropathy.
With this knowledge in hand, you now know which position suits you best and makes you sleep comfortably. If these also do not work, here are some quick tips that can come to your rescue.
7 Tips To Sleep Well At Night
1. Follow a routine
It is very important to have a fixed routine. Try to be consistent with your sleeping pattern. Note that your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set pattern and it aligns itself with sunrise and sunset.
According to a study, irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and also the melatonin levels (they signal your brain to sleep).
If you are finding it difficult to sleep, try getting into a habit of waking up and sleeping at the same time. After few months, you will find that your body has adjusted to the new routine.
2. Skip your late-night coffee
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Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. In fact, according to one study, caffeine consumed up to six hours before bed can hamper your sleep quality.
So while caffeine can help you get energy, remember that it can stay elevated in your blood for six to eight hours. If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon, try to stick with decaffeinated coffee.
3. Increase light exposure during the day
Bright sunlight during the day can help keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This plays an important part in improving your energy and also nighttime sleep quality and duration.
In fact, a recent study has proved that bright light exposure can improve your sleep quality and also duration, especially for those suffering from insomnia. It also considerably reduced the time one takes to fall asleep by almost 83 per cent.
So here’s another reason to get more sunlight, especially if you’ve been cooped up at home!
4. Reduce blue light exposure at night
Electronic devices like smartphones, laptops, i-pads emit large amounts of blue light. When you are exposed to a large amount of light at night, your brain is tricked into thinking it’s still daytime.
This reduces hormones like melatonin that essentially help you relax and get a good night sleep. Hence, it is very important to reduce nighttime blue light exposure.
Here are some ways in which you can do it:
- Turn off any bright lights and digital devices at least two hours before going to sleep.
- Wear glasses that can to some extent block blue light.
5. Don’t take long daytime naps
While power naps are a great way to kickstart your brain, avoid taking long daytime naps. It can negatively affect your brain and confuse your internal clock.
In fact, a study has proved that if you nap for 30 minutes or less during the day, it can enhance your brain function, but longer naps can harm your health and also your sleep quality.
But if you have been getting good sleep at night in spite of taking long naps, then there’s no need to worry.
6. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise not only keeps you healthy, but also improves your sleep. According to a study in people with insomnia, exercise proved to be more beneficial than most drugs. The results were remarkable.
It was noticed that regular exercise reduced the time to fall asleep by almost 55 per cent, anxiety by 15 per cent while increasing the total sleep time by almost 18 per cent.
While regular exercise is recommended, you should try to avoid it right before you go to bed. This can increase alertness and hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine. Try to get a warm bath right before you sleep, to help you get a good night’s sleep.
7. Eat healthy meals
Try to have a balanced meal throughout the day. Keep your dinner light or as recommended by nutritionists. While you should avoid junk food, restrict its quantity if you indulge on occasion.
Avoid drinking lots of water or any other liquid before going to bed. You may end up waking up frequently to urinate, thus hindering your sleep.
But how many hours is considered a ‘good night’s sleep?’
While there is no magic number of sleep hours that works best for everybody, it really depends on your physical activities and age.
For instance, babies usually need as much as 16 to 18 hours of sleep per day. While school-going children usually need 9.5-10 hours of sleep at night. On the other hand, adults may need anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep to function.
As you grow older, this time window also reduces and you may opt for shorter naps throughout the day post 60.
The important thing to remember is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and a sleeping position that benefits your body and allows for uninterrupted sleep at night.
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