Getting a good night of sleep is important to your health. For adults, the National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Some may need a little less or a little more to maximize their rest.
For teens, the National Sleep Foundation recommends between 8-10 hours of sleep each night, while school-age children should be getting between 9-11 hours of sleep.
It isn’t always easy to get that much sleep each night. Between school and work responsibilities, many people struggle to reach the minimum levels of the sleep recommendations which are offered.
That is why these 7 commandments of a good night’s sleep are so important to follow. When you create a routine which includes these commandments, then you’ll be building a foundation that leads toward better, deeper, and longer sleep each night.
What Are the Seven Commandments?
Commandments are like rules, follow them to the best of your abilities and you will get to reap the associated rewards.
Commandment #1: Enjoy the Sunshine More
Everyone has their own timeclock that they maintain naturally. This is referred to as your Circadian rhythm.
Your Circadian rhythm tells your body when it is time to wake up and when you should be going to sleep. To create this communication, it influences hormone production levels that affect your body and brain.
When you provide yourself with natural sunlight exposure throughout the day, you will reinforce your Circadian rhythm. It will improve your daytime energy levels, while still encouraging a good night’s sleep when the sun goes down.
In a study involving bright light treatments for 11 nursing home patients, adding 2 hours of extra light per day improved sleep efficiency from 73% to 86%.
If you don’t have the chance to step outside into the sun, try installing natural daylight LED bulbs throughout your home.
Commandment #2: Caffeine Must Stop After Lunch
There are numerous benefits to the consumption of caffeine. It can boost memory consolidation, replenish muscle glycogen, detox the liver, and even stimulate hair growth.
It will also make you feel more alert and awake when you are feeling tired.
The problem with caffeine is that it can stay active in the body for an extended period of time. If you consume a caffeinated product up to 6 hours before your regular bedtime routine, then you increase the risk of experiencing a significantly worse sleep experience.
For some people, caffeine can stay active in their system for up to 12 hours after consumption.
As a rule of thumb, you should avoid consuming anything that is caffeinated after lunch. If you do need something to get you past that afternoon wall, avoid caffeine after 4pm.
There are some exceptions to consider. If you have a headache and an Aspirin product with caffeine is recommended, then follow the treatment plan.
Small amounts of caffeine, such as those found in chocolate, provide a minimal impact on sleep.
If you do crave some coffee or sweetened beverage, try decaffeinated coffee or sparkling water to get you through.
Commandment #3: Optimize Your Bedroom
There are several factors which can influence the quality of the sleep you receive at night. Everything from the temperature in the room to how you arrange your furniture could create positive or negative impacts on the quality of your sleep.
One way to improve your sleep at night is to reduce the levels of external noise that you are exposed to in your bedroom.
In a 2011 study looking at the sleep patterns of new parents, it was found that reductions of light and noise in the bedroom results in 50% better sleep.
To reduce noise, consider shutting all doors and windows. Hang thick curtains to reduce temperature and light changes in the room. Then reduce the number of artificial lights which are in the room.
Then set your temperature for your comfort level. Most people tend to sleep well around 70°F or 20°C.
Commandment #4: Don’t Drink Alcohol Near Bedtime
All it takes is a couple of alcohol-containing beverages to create a negative impact on the quality of sleep you receive.
Alcohol is known to increase the bothersome symptoms of several conditions, including snoring and sleep apnea. It can also disrupt your normal sleep patterns if you do not suffer from these conditions.
Consuming alcohol will also change how melatonin is produced by the body, which can have a disruptive effect on your Circadian rhythm.
That doesn’t mean you must avoid alcohol altogether. You must avoid it around bedtime. For every alcoholic drink you consume, give yourself 1 hour of lead time before bedtime. So, if you like to have a glass of wine with dinner, make sure it happens about 60 minutes before you begin your bedtime routine.
Commandment #5: Make Time to Relax
It is important to have a bedtime routine which encourages some type of relaxation.
When relaxation techniques are incorporated into a pre-sleep routine, then the quality of sleep tends to improve. It is such a powerful technique, in fact, that it is a common treatment option for those who struggle with chronic insomnia.
There are several ways you can encourage more relaxation at bedtime. Some people prefer to take a hot bath. Reading a book is a good option. Deep breathing exercises may be helpful.
You can even listen to relaxing music while visualizing yourself having a good night’s sleep.
What you should avoid during your relaxation period are electronic stimulants. Try to shut off the television at least 1 hour before going to bed. Avoid using your phone. Turn off your tablets and computers.
Even though you may feel relaxed by using these items, the blue light can stimulate feelings of alertness and diminish feelings of sleepiness.
If you must use an electronic, set it to a night shift mode or use warm tones on the display to minimize the impact of the blue light.
Commandment #6: Know Your Supplements
Taking a melatonin supplement can help your brain recognize that it is time to go to bed. It only takes 2mg of melatonin to help fall asleep faster, have improved sleep quality, and better energy levels the next day.
It may be available over-the-counter or by prescription, depending on your location. Check with your doctor before use to avoid potential health issues or medication interactions.
Other supplements may provide help with a good night’s sleep too. Ginkgo biloba, magnesium, glycine, and lavender may all help to create a deeper state of relaxation which can help you sleep.
If you do try adding a supplement, be sure to only use one at a time. Always tell your doctor what supplements you are using as well.
Commandment #7: Get Rid of the Pain
If you find that you sleep better away from home than in your bed, then a better mattress, pillow, or bed may be necessary.
Having a new mattress can reduce the amount of pain and stiffness experienced by up to 60% for some people. The typical bed needs to be upgraded or replaced every 8 years or less.
Comfort is subjective with a bed, so base your choices on what your personal preferences happen to be.
There are other ways to get rid of pain and stiffness at night. Try sleeping with a pillow between your knees. You might also try sleeping in an upright position, especially if allergies affect your sleep experience.
Now You Can Unlock the Full Potential of a Good Night’s Sleep
These 7 commandments of a good night’s sleep are intended to help you examine your personal routines and decisions. It isn’t intended to pass judgment.
We all have nights where sleep seems to be far from reach.
By including these commandments into your daily routine whenever possible, the goal is to improve the quality of the sleep you receive over time.
Now is the time to make a change. You can start having better sleep tonight. Choose one or more of these commandments and make it happen today.