The reality is that nowadays, most of us are living very busy lives — oftentimes, so busy that we find ourselves so distracted by doing things that we take very little time to unwind, relax, or even enjoy a good night’s rest.
Unfortunately, we all need sleep. If we don’t get a good night’s rest every night, then we’ll start to become sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can come with all sorts of nasty side effects that might get in the way of you living your best life.
That’s why we’ve taken the liberty to help you figure out some of the best ways for how to improve sleep quality. By following these tips as well as taking advantage of the Sleep Cycle app, you’ll be able to improve your relationship with sleep to ensure that you’re getting high-quality sleep every night.
Why Sleep Quality Is Important?
Before learning how to improve sleep quality, you might as well take the time to understand why quality sleep is important in the first place.
Sleep is the period that your body and brain use to repair themselves after the end of a stressful day. While you’re unconscious, your body’s natural healing mechanisms are working to restore, rebuff, and repair any wear and tear that took place throughout the day.
This means things like:
- Helping to produce the proper hormones and enzymes that your body needs to function throughout the day.
- Ensuring that nutrients you’ve consumed are properly assimilated, used, and excreted.
- Making sure that your muscle tissue has time to repair and grow if you’ve been working out or doing manual labour.
- Helping to ensure that your brain cells remain in top shape by supplying them with necessary nutrients.
- The brain stores many of the new pieces of information that it encounters throughout the day.
- The body moves to process any toxic waste that has been accumulated throughout the day.
- Your nerve cells communicate with each other, effectively reorganizing and preparing for the next day by enhancing brain function.
- Cellular energy is produced and utilized for the repair of damaged cells, as well as cellular metabolism.
If you don’t sleep, then your body doesn’t have time to do all of these incredibly important things. That spells a lot of different kinds of trouble, so it’s generally in your best interest to make sure that you get a good night’s rest.
How Does Sleep Cycle Determine Sleep Quality?
Sleep Cycle is an app designed to help track your sleeping patterns so that you can determine the quality of your nightly sleep. It also has a function that helps to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase which prevents you from being woken up during deep sleep. Which is often what leads people to experience grumpiness, grogginess, etc.
Rather than waking up feeling like you want to crawl back into bed, you’ll feel rested and energized. Then you’ll be able to check back on your sleep cycles to see how you slept. Over time, this allows you to prepare a sleep regimen that encourages healthy bedtime habits that encourage good, reliable sleeping patterns.
But how does Sleep Cycle determine sleep quality? First, it evaluates your movements throughout the night to identify where you’re at out of the five different sleep cycles. These are:
- Light sleep. This is the lightest stage of sleep, the one that you’ll ideally wake up from in the morning.
- Stage two sleep is when your body is starting to prepare itself to fall into deep sleep but it has not quite reached that stage. Your brain waves begin to slow themselves down and your temperature decreases.
- Deep sleep. During deep sleep, your brain puts out very slow delta waves that intertwine with faster brain waves.
- Stage four sleep is marked by the almost-exclusive production of delta waves. These slow waves help to stabilize the brain at a low frequency as you move towards the fifth stage, which is:
- REM sleep, the stage at which we dream. REM stands for rapid-eye movement, meaning your eyes can actually be tracked and seen to be moving underneath your eyelids.
Sleep Cycle is able to determine what sleep stage you’re in by tracking the different movements of your body. Each sleep cycle is associated with certain types of movement, so the algorithms can reliably detect what stage you’re in based on what sort of movements you’re using.
The app also uses sound analysis to help recognize the various sleep states that you may be in. Analysing the sounds as well as the movements of your sleeping body allows Sleep Cycle to figure out how long you remain in each cycle of sleep for.
After you’ve gotten the desired amount of sleep, the app will watch for indications that you’re approaching light sleep. Once you reach this stage, it will gently wake you up.
Ways to Improve Sleep
There are lots of different ways that you can improve sleep quality. Here are some of the best tips and tricks.
Finding the Best Sleep Supplement
Sleeping pills are a little extreme and should only be used by people with serious insomnia (i.e. diagnosed by a doctor). Sleeping pills are often notoriously addictive and can cause tons of unwanted side effects and, in serious cases, turn you into a zombie throughout the next day.
Different sleep supplements will produce different effects depending on what you’re hoping to achieve. Here are a few examples.
For many, melatonin is the best sleep supplement. Melatonin is actually a hormone produced by our body. It is made when our skin stops detecting light in the atmosphere (which means that blue light, such as that produced by cell phones and computers, can actually hinder melatonin from being produced).
There is some debate in the scientific community as to whether or not melatonin supplements are actually worthwhile beyond placebo. Either way, they’re cheap and easy to find, so you might as well try them out.
Magnesium is a great nutrient for sleep. Magnesium is important for helping to modulate the nervous system and preventing it from firing out of control. An over-excited nervous system can cause symptoms like anxiety and insomnia, both of which can interfere with your nightly rest.
Finding the best magnesium supplement for sleep isn’t hard. You want to find a brand that is highly bioavailable. Generally products that contain magnesium bisglycinate or magnesium citrate are high-quality.
Night Recovery Supplement
If you’re an athlete or a bodybuilder, then recovery is one of the most important parts of your training routine. Most of your recovery takes place while you’re sleeping, which means that you should do whatever you can to price your body for the growth that tends to occur at night.
This means that you might want to take a night recovery supplement to help speed along your muscle repairs. Some of these night recovery supplements you may already have kicking around.
- Zinc-magnesium. If you’re already thinking about a magnesium supplement then you might as well try out zinc-magnesium, a supplement which can help boost levels of human growth hormone and help promote deep sleep at night.
- BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, provide the building blocks of protein and thus the muscle tissue that you need to grow strong. Taking them before bed can help you feel great by the following morning.
- Mucuna pruriens is a herbal supplement that boosts dopamine, a compound which is related to mood and motivation — in addition to signalling the production of growth hormone.
Regulate Your Light Exposure
There’s two ways that you can boost your sleep quality by watching your light exposure:
- Increase light exposure during the day.
- Decrease (blue) light exposure during the night.
Being out in the sunlight during the day helps to keep your body’s circadian rhythm in check, which ensures that you’ll start producing the melatonin that you need once it’s evening time.
On the other hand, if you’re not staying away from blue lights in the evening time, your body will be tricked into thinking that the sun’s still out. This will hinder the production of melatonin and disrupt your sleep cycle and circadian rhythm.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol can certainly help you fall asleep faster (although, because of the many obvious health problems associated with alcohol, we’ll avoid mentioning it in the next section.) However, even though it puts you to sleep, it doesn’t do anything good for the quality of your sleep.
Alcohol could be the poster child for the title of this article: quality over quantity. Even though alcohol might knock you out cold for a number of hours, you’re going to be getting absolutely garbage-quality sleep.
Alcohol consumption before bed prevents the body from producing human growth hormone. It can also worsen sleep apnea and prevents melatonin from being produced.
How to Sleep Faster
If you’re interested in falling asleep faster, rather than falling asleep better, then you might want to check out some of these tips.
Avoid Late-Afternoon Caffeine
Caffeine tends to produce an effect for at least six hours. Even if you’re not feeling acutely stimulated from your 4 PM coffee, it’s still going to be working in your nervous system by the time you hit the bed at 10 PM.
If you find yourself tossing and turning when you’re first trying to fall asleep, double-check with yourself to see when you last had a cup of coffee. If it’s within six hours, then you should make sure that you avoid doing that in the future.
Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
One of the best ways to improve sleeping is to keep a regular sleep schedule, preferably in accordance with your circadian rhythm. If you can regularly fall asleep in sync with the rising and falling of the sun, then your body will naturally attune to the rhythm of nature.
If you live in a climate where this is difficult, it still helps to make sure that you follow a regular sleep schedule every night.This will prime your body to fall asleep at the same time each night which will eliminate the time you spend tossing and turning.
Practice Meditation or Mind-Clearing Exercises
One of the best ways to ensure that you fall into a good sleep quickly is to prepare some sort of practice or mind-clearing exercises/routines prior to bed. Following a routine or a simple practice of breath work, meditative focus, or gentle movement practice can help you unwind after a long and stressful day.
These activities can help you get your mind off any stress or anxiety that you experienced throughout the day. Rather than rolling around trying to find a solution to the day’s problems for tomorrow, meditation lets you simply allow the situation whilst simultaneously providing you with the mental fortitude to deal with it when it arises tomorrow.
Make a Comfortable Sleeping Environment
A comfortable sleeping environment can be important for both someone trying to get a good night’s sleep as well as someone hoping to fall asleep quickly. A comfortable environment allows you to fully relax in your space. It can be hard to fall asleep if you’re not even able to relax first.
- Make sure that you have a comfortable mattress with well-fitted pillows.
- Try to limit any noise that makes its way into your room while you sleep.
- Make sure that you keep the temperature at an ideal level;l generally this would be somewhat cooler than the other rooms in the house so that you don’t overheat while wearing a blanket.
- Try to avoid using your bed for anything else besides sleeping and having sex. Doing anything else in your bed dissociates the link between your bed and your sleep.
Anyone wondering how to improve sleep quality now knows some of the best secrets in the trade. Following these tips as well as using an app like Sleep Cycle will help you improve sleeping in a matter of days.
Take some time to find the best sleep supplement for you, and remember to avoid sleeping pills (medically-prescribed drugs) unless they’re absolutely necessary. Until then, just continue trying out different ways to improve sleep until you find something that works!
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