• Oct 2023(updated on Jan 2024)

How to sleep better: Tips for falling asleep and getting a good night’s rest

How to sleep better: Tips for falling asleep and getting a good night’s rest
  • Good sleep patterns are essential for your physical and mental health and impact your energy, mood, focus, metabolic health, and more. 
  • Lack of quality sleep can also impact your glucose levels, cause you to make unhealthy food choices, and poor sleep is frequently correlated with weight gain. (9)  
  • You can achieve better sleep with various lifestyle habits such as cutting back on caffeine and screen time, avoiding alcohol before bed, and eating a well-balanced diet.
It's no secret that a good night's sleep is vital for your overall health and wellbeing. The impact of sleep extends beyond simply feeling refreshed; our shuteye influences our energy levels, physical health, mood, and daily activities. Although there is no one-size-fits-all advice, there are things you can do to help improve your sleep. And, since everyone has different biological factors and lifestyles, it’s best to try a few different strategies

Although it’s a common misconception that getting more hours of sleep per night means you’re getting better sleep, that’s not always the case. The quality of sleep is paramount, and your habits throughout the day and in the evenings can have a major impact on the quality of sleep you’ll get. You may have heard of the term “sleep hygiene.” This term was coined in the early 1970s and is used to refer to a sleep routine or sleep habits that are conducive to promoting good quality sleep and daytime alertness (1).

This guide is intended to empower you to try several different sleep hygiene methods to improve your sleep naturally as you build healthier routines and habits that work for you. 

Why getting a good night’s sleep is important

Sleep can make a huge difference to your overall health and wellbeing, making it one of the most important things to optimise in any health journey.

Think about a time when you were sleep deprived – it's likely you didn’t feel like exercising, didn’t make the healthiest food choices, and had trouble concentrating and staying focused.

Effects of lack of sleep

When you don’t get enough quality sleep, it can disrupt your body’s ability to regulate glucose and increase your chance of glucose spikes and dips (2). 

Dysregulated glucose can lead to fluctuations in mood and energy (3), cravings for starchy foods, and an increased risk of overeating (4). These foods then further disrupt your glucose. And so, the cycle continues. Poor sleep can also result in a reduced ability to fend off illness (5).

While these are the short-term effects of sleep deprivation, a lack of sleep can also have a long-term impact on your health and wellbeing. Long-term consequences of sleep disruption in otherwise healthy individuals include hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer (10, 11). Poor sleep has also been tied to an increased risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease (12).

8 ways to improve your sleep

Here are our tips to set yourself up for a successful night of sleep.

1. Wind down your caffeine intake

Your meal or snack choices can have a significant impact on your sleep. You might be aware that you should avoid stimulants such as coffee, some teas, and dark chocolate before bed as the caffeine can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Everyone metabolises caffeine differently. One person may be fine with their third coffee later in the day, while another may not be OK with even one coffee in the morning. To ensure a peaceful night’s rest, try cutting out caffeine at least six hours before bed and switching to decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas in the afternoon and evening. 

2. Learn how different meal choices affect you

Your meal choices throughout the day, and particularly around dinner time, can lead to dysregulated glucose beyond typical glucose spikes. This can make it harder to fall asleep and also disturb sleep quality (5, 6). Prioritise protein, fats, and fibrous vegetables as you reduce the amount of carbs on your plate. This helps to maintain steady glucose levels. 

Personalised coaching, such as that provided through Lingo, can help guide you towards making better meal choices, help motivate you, and help keep you on track with this crucial element of your sleep health.

3. Create a relaxing sleep environment

Make your bedroom a calm, comfortable space that promotes restful sleep. Consider things like comfortable bedding, blackout curtains or an eye mask, or a white noise machine to help create your perfect sleep environment. These seemingly small touches can make a big difference. 

Avoid unnecessary clutter, as this can create a chaotic environment, which is not conducive to relaxation. Try to avoid working in your bedroom, as your brain starts associating the space with productivity and stress rather than relaxation and rest.

4. Limit screens before bed

The blue light emitted by screens can suppress production of the sleep hormone melatonin and interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. So, it’s best to avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bed, or switch to audio-only content like podcasts (but make sure the topic is relaxing!). If you’re used to replying to emails or studying in the evening, this might require setting a hard deadline. 

If your schedule doesn't allow for that much time between screen and sleep, consider installing a blue light filter for your screen and/or investing in blue light-blocking glasses.

An additional issue with screens is that the content you’re viewing can be very stimulating, thereby increasing brain activity even if you feel relaxed and comforted at the time. Try to avoid watching TV and movies, playing video games, and scrolling through social media right before bed. Instead, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read or listen to music or a podcast.

5. Avoid alcohol later in your day

It’s a common misconception that alcohol helps you sleep. However, while alcohol might help you fall asleep quicker, imbibing leads to a more restless and disrupted sleep, creating a greater likelihood of waking up during the night. Alcohol before bed can drive a reduction in REM sleep, the phase of sleep that is crucial for dreaming, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation.

Look to replace your evening cocktail or glass of wine with one of the following: 

  • Herbal teas: chamomile, valerian root, and lemon balm are all known for their natural calming properties.
  • Golden milk (turmeric latte): blend milk with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and a touch of honey for a comforting drink with anti-inflammatory properties.


6. Practice relaxation techniques

While prioritising sleep is important all the time, it’s essential when you’re feeling overwhelmed. When you’re overly stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, also known as the “fight or flight” hormone.

Too much cortisol can not only affect your glucose, but also disrupt your sleep patterns. High cortisol levels have been linked to insomnia, waking up during the night, and less sleep time overall (8). Although it may be hard to get the quality sleep you need when you’re stressed, take time to relax and wind down before bed. You’ll feel better the next day.

Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help to ease your mind and reduce your stress levels before bed. A simple breath technique involves inhaling slowly for a count of four and exhaling smoothly for a count of four.

7. Write down your thoughts

If you feel anxious or worried about the next day, take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts or worries on a notepad next to your bed. You may even find it useful to write down your top three priorities for the next day. This can help you clear your mind and unwind. 

It can also be comforting to make note of three things you are grateful for. This practice can help shift your stress and help you feel ready for sleep.

8. Follow a bedtime routine (sleep hygiene)

A consistent bedtime routine can signal to your body that it's time to wind down and get ready for sleep. This can include things like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or some light stretching. It’s also a good idea to wake up around the same time every day and get exposure to natural sunlight within the first couple hours of waking up to set your circadian rhythm. 

Use these tips as inspiration to create a regular routine that can significantly improve your sleep quality. Even making one or two adjustments can have a positive impact on both your sleep and your glucose. 

A final note from Lingo

Quality sleep is paramount for overall health and wellbeing. The relationship between sleep and glucose is powerful, and when disrupted, has a wide array of health consequences. It’s beneficial to work towards better sleep to support your mood, energy, immune health, and more (10).

Achieving better sleep requires a personalised approach, and Lingo is here to support you at every step.

January 24, 2024

References

  1. Gigli GL, Valente M. Should the definition of “sleep hygiene” be antedated of a century? A historical note based on an old book by Paolo Mantegazza, rediscovered. To place in a new historical context the development of the concept of sleep hygiene. Neurol Sci. 2013 May;34(5): 755-60. doi. 10.10072-012-1140-8. PMID: 22752854

  2. Tsereteli N, Vallat R, Fernández-Tajes J, Delahanty LM, Ordovas JM, Drew DA, Valdes AM, Segata N, Chan AT, Wolf J, Berry SE, Walker MP, Spector TD, Franks PW. Impact of insufficient sleep on dysregulated blood glucose control under standardised meal conditions. Multicenter Study Diabetologia. 2022 Feb;65(2):356-365. doi: 10.1007/s00125-021-05608-y. Epub 2021 Nov 30. PMID: 34845532 PMCID: PMC8741723

  3. Breymeyer KL, Lampe JW, McGregor BA, & Neuhouser ML (2016). Subjective mood and energy levels of healthy weight and overweight/obese healthy adults on high- and low-glycemic load experimental diets. Appetite, 107, 253–259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.08.008 (Breymeyer et al, 2016)

  4. Chang KT, Lampe JW, Schwarz Y, Breymeyer KL, Noar KA, Song X, & Neuhouser ML (2012). Low glycemic load experimental diet More satiating than high glycemic load diet. Nutrition and Cancer, 64(5), 666-673. https://doi.org/10.1080/01635581.2012.676143 (Chang et al, 2012)

  5. Horton J (2023, June 29). Does a bad night’s sleep affect your health? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sleep-and-health/  (Horton, 2023b)

  6. Yoda K, Inaba M, Hamamoto K, Yoda M, Tsuda A, Mori K, Imanishi Y, Emoto M, & Yamada S (2015). Association between Poor Glycemic Control, Impaired Sleep Quality, and Increased Arterial Thickening in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. PLOS ONE, 10(4), e0122521. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0122521   (Yoda et al, 2015)

  7. Punjabi NM, Shahar E, Redline S, Gottlieb DJ, Givelber RJ, & Resnick HE (2004). Sleep-Disordered breathing, glucose intolerance, and Insulin Resistance: The Sleep Heart Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 160(6), 521–530. https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwh261 (Punjabi et al., 2004) 

  8. Hirotsu C, Tufik S, Andersen ML. Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Sci. 2015 Nov;8(3):143-52.

  9. Chaput JP, McHill AW, Cox RC, Broussard JL, Dutil C, da Costa BGG, Sampasa-Kanyinga H, Wright KP Jr. The role of insufficient sleep and circadian misalignment in obesity. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2023 Feb;19(2):82-97. doi: 10.1038/s41574-022-00747-7. Epub 2022 Oct 24. PMID: 36280789; PMCID: PMC9590398. 
  10. Medic G, Wille M, Hemels ME. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017 May 19;9:151-161. 
  11. Knutson KL. Sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk: a review of the epidemiologic evidence. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct;24(5):731-43. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2010.07.001. PMID: 21112022; PMCID: PMC3011978. 
  12. Spira AP, Chen-Edinboro LP, Wu MN, Yaffe K. Impact of sleep on the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2014 Nov;27(6):478-83. 

Metabolic change is possible

Sign up and receive scientifically proven tips, strategies, and insights to supercharge your metabolism.
Email me personalised regular news, content and exclusive offers. I will receive an email from Lingo to confirm my email address. I consent to the use of my personal data for marketing purposes. Please refer to the Lingo Privacy Notice regarding your rights and for additional details.