Tips for quality sleep

Tips for quality sleep

Developing certain habits, like keeping a consistent schedule and limiting blue light exposure before bed, can promote quality sleep. Improving sleep quality is crucial for overall well-being, and the tips below offer a guide to achieving better sleep.

  1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same times daily to regulate your internal clock. Ensure you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night to reduce daytime sleepiness.
  2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Develop a consistent pre-sleep routine that helps you unwind. Activities like taking a warm bath or shower, gentle stretching, meditation, listening to soothing music, or reading (non-digital) can signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Avoid stimulating activities before bed.
  3. Turn off electronic devices: Keep electronics out of the bedroom and turn them off at least an hour before bed. Blue light from phones and other devices can suppress melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. We naturally produce melatonin, and it helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms. Importantly, melatonin plays a vital role in the sleep-wake cycle.
  4. Exercise regularly: Engage in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, preferably outdoors for natural light exposure. Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime as it can elevate energy levels and body temperature.
  5. Limit caffeine intake: Since caffeine’s effects can last for hours, it’s best to limit consumption to the morning hours. Individual tolerance varies, so adjust your intake accordingly to avoid sleep disturbances.
  6. Optimize your sleep environment: In a tropical country like Uganda a temperature around 18-20 C will be comfortable for sleep. Have a good mattress and pillows. Use earplugs to block out noise and blackout curtains or eye masks to keep the room dark.
  7. Use your bed only for sleep: Reserve the bed for sleep to strengthen the association between bed and sleep, helping you fall asleep more easily. Do other activities like reading or working elsewhere.
  8. Go to bed only when tired: Avoid lying in bed if you’re not sleepy. Engage in a relaxing activity until you feel tired, then go to bed. If you can’t sleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something calming until you feel sleepy. The aim is to avoid your brain making an association between “tossing and turning” and your bed.
  9. Limit napping: Avoid naps, if possible, as they can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you must nap, keep it short (around 20 min or less) and avoid late afternoon naps.
  10. Manage stress before bed: Write down worries or to-do lists to clear your mind. Consider using a weighted blanket for anxiety and practicing meditation to relax before bed. There are several apps that offer soothing sounds or sleep medidations.
  11. Avoid large meals before bed: Eating heavy meals, especially those that can cause acid reflux, close to bedtime can disrupt sleep. Also, avoid alcohol and nicotine before bed as they can negatively impact sleep quality.
  12. Manage light exposure: Get natural light exposure during the day to regulate your circadian rhythm. In the evening, reduce light exposure by using warm-light bulbs, dimming lights, and setting electronic devices to night mode. Shift workers should take extra steps to manage light exposure to support sleep.

Your behavior, both during the day and around bedtime, can affect the quality of your sleep. If you have a hard time falling or staying asleep, you can try several of the strategies above to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for hours at a time. Sleep hygiene is the key to sweet dreams. If you continue to have issues with your sleep patterns or insomnia, be sure to follow up with your doctor. They can determine whether an underlying condition is causing your sleep problems and can provide the treatment you may need.

Sweet dreams!

  1. General resource on sleep
  2. 20 Tips for How to Sleep Better
  3. How to Sleep Better. (2022). Psychology Today
  4. Fix Your Sleep Hygiene. (2011). Psychology Today
  5. What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep, and Why Does It Matter?

Dr. Acham Hedwig is a distinguished Senior Lecturer in the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition. Holding a Ph.D. in Nutrition, she focuses on innovative strategies to enhance public health through improved nutrition. Dr. Hedwig's research delves into the nutritional value of food products and dietary interventions, assessing their impact on health outcomes and educating the masses about good nutrition. Beyond her academic duties, Dr. Hedwig collaborates actively with industry partners and health organizations, translating her research into practical applications. This commitment to bridging academia and industry has significantly enhanced the real-world impact of her work, particularly in improving nutritional standards and promoting healthier eating habits.

Zenah Nantumbwe

BA Industrial and Organisational Psychology (Mak); MSc Clinical Psychology (Mak)
Wellness Psychological Services

Yvonne Zabu

BA Psychology (Nelson Mandela University); HonSocSci Psychology (UCT); MSc Clinical Psychology (Mak)
Wellness Psychological Services

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