Optimize sleep quality. For everyone, sleep is one of the most important aspects of health. It affects every aspect of your day from mood to appetite.
Most experts say that adults need anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep each night, with each person having various needs. Despite being fairly well-known information, many people do not get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep and as a result, are sleep deprived.
Additionally, not all sleep is created equal. It is very common for someone to get the recommended amount of sleep although that sleep is poor quality. Despite getting “enough” sleep, obstructive external factors can prevent time spent in REM and deep sleep.
Research shows that REM and deep sleep are the most important stages of recovery. So, quality or quantity of sleep?
Both. Quality and quantity of sleep are both very important, although focusing on improving the quality of your sleep could allow you to require less sleep while still feeling completely rested.
For weightlifters and athletes who are serious about achieving their goals, taking sleep and recovery seriously is vital.
Sleep quality is one of the most important pieces of recovery. Without proper recovery, it is nearly impossible to reach your full potential.
Side Effects Of Poor Sleep Quality
10 Practices To Optimize Sleep Quality
Include as many of these practices into your lifestyle to help significantly improve your quality of sleep.
10. Be Active During The Day
The effects of exercise on sleep is an extensively researched topic. It is proven to help optimize sleep quality.
Sleep Benefits From Exercising During Day
Studies and polls conducted have shown conclusive evidence of sleep-related benefits directly caused by daily exercise.
A 2013 poll included participants ages 23-60; to see how sleep is affected by exercise.
83% of people who exercised with light, moderate, or intense intensity reported fairly good quality of sleep. This number significantly outweighed the 56% of people who did not exercise.
A different study used participants aged 18-75, all relatively healthy and fit. This study aimed to figure out whether or not when you exercise is significant.
The study concluded that exercising from around 7 am (before work) and 1 pm to 4 pm (after work) lead to participants feeling the most well-rested the following day.
In the study, data gathered also showed evidence that exercising shortly before bedtime (7 pm to 10 pm) delayed the Circadian Rhythm; and lead to participants being less well-rested the following day.
To avoid feeling sluggish, try exercising in the morning or afternoon instead of shortly before bed.
That being said, the important thing is to exercise regularly. Regular exercise will significantly improve your quality of sleep in addition to the countless other health benefits.
Side Effects of Poor Breathing During Sleep
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep
Sleep and breathing have a very direct relationship.
Not getting enough sleep is linked to causing breathing disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is when the airway repeatedly collapses during sleep.
Sleep Apnea may affect up to 30% of adults and is thought to be underdiagnosed at this time. This condition can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult and may be worth getting treated.
Untreated OSA can lead to heightened blood pressure and stroke. The primary risk factor for developing Sleep Apnea is obesity. Learn more about OSA here.
A reputable study shows that using Internal Nasal Openers at night can significantly improve nighttime breathing and quality of sleep. Nasal Openers help with snoring and more minor cases of sleep apnea.
One trial using Mute Nasal Openers showed the following: 78% of participants reported better nighttime breathing; 75% of participants reported less snoring, and 38% of participants reported improved quality of sleep.
Focusing on breathing and performing breathing techniques can increase the production of melatonin.
Potential Benefits of Internal Nasal Openers
8. Bedding Quality
Side Effects of Low Quality Bedding
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep (Recommended)
When optimizing sleep, comfortable bedding plays a large role in the quality of sleep you get.
While everyone is different and will have varying preferences, ideal bedding for most is cool and soft.
Since temperature plays a role in sleep quality and sleep onset, choosing bedding that will keep you cool is important. Typically sheets and pillow case materials that stay the coolest are silk, linen, and microfiber.
For individuals serious about improving their quality of sleep, you will want to look into purchasing a quality mattress.
Memory Foam mattresses can have a tremendous benefit on the quality of sleep. A typical memory foam mattress has a lifetime of 10 years.
Side Effects of Poor Nutrition (Sleep Related)
Nutrients That Help With Sleep
To function properly, your body needs a sufficient amount of nutrients. Sleep is no exception to this rule.
A healthy diet is important to fully optimize sleep quality.
To get the best quality of sleep possible, having a well-balanced diet with a good assortment of fruits and vegetables is necessary.
Along with maintaining a nutrient-rich diet, avoid high-carb meals, especially before bed.
Studies show that high-carb meals can decrease the amount of time spent in deep sleep and increase the amount of nighttime awakenings.
Food and sleep have a mutual relationship. Poor sleep can affect diet, the same way diet affects sleep.
Sleep deprivation increases appetite and tends to make you crave less healthy foods. The relationship between food and sleep can create a dangerous cycle.
If you are specifically looking to build muscle, check out this article to learn which nutrients are most important.
Almost all nutrients are available as supplements. Supplements can be a great way to ensure you are getting enough nutrients.
Supplements That Help Optimize Sleep Quality
It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
When taking supplements, consider using them to fill in the missing components of your diet.
Supplements should be used to assist an already healthy diet, not to replace it.
Melatonin is a commonly used supplement specifically used to help fall asleep.
In addition to being a supplement, melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by the body and used as a tool to tell it when to be tired.
Taking melatonin as a supplement puts the hormone into your body and helps activate sleep.
Traditional melatonin supplements are effective at putting you to sleep. At the same time, they do not promote high-quality, uninterrupted sleep.
For this reason, Melatonin-XR was developed as a supplement.
XR stands for extended-release which disperses small amounts of melatonin throughout the night.
Melatonin-XR is proven to be more effective for high-quality sleep than traditional melatonin.
Some sleep/recovery supplements include both Melatonin and Melatonin-XR, in addition to other sleep-inducing nutrients.
An example of a sleep/recovery supplement is Gorilla Dreams by Gorilla Mind. To learn about Gorilla Dreams and an in-depth look into its ingredients, check out this article.
6. Stress Levels
Side Effects of High Stress (Sleep Related)
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep
High amounts of stress are proven to affect your quality of sleep.
Inadequate sleep and stress have a direct relationship with one another. In addition to stress negatively affecting sleep, lack of sleep leads to increased stress levels. The mutually destructive relationship they share can be dangerous and makes improvement difficult.
High-stress levels cause a more active nervous system. When the nervous system is alert, it does not allow the body to enter deep or REM sleep (the most beneficial stages of sleep).
Making an effort to lower your stress levels will optimize quality of sleep. Being intentional with mindfulness throughout the day is a good place to start.
Another practice to try is disconnecting at night.
It is important to disconnect from the “stress-causers” in your life as you approach bedtime. Whether it be work, school, or social media; designate a time at the end of your day to remove yourself from the stress and wind down.
5. Caffeine Consumption
Side Effects of Late Day Caffeine Consumption
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep
According to the CDC, over 80% of Americans consume some variety of caffeine every day. This statistic makes caffeine the most used drug in the country.
Caffeine, to most health professionals, is considered safe for humans despite being a physically addictive drug. Quitting or cutting back on caffeine can be difficult due to the potential withdrawal symptoms.
The simplest way to avoid caffeine-inflicted sleep troubles is by cutting it out altogether. Although, in most cases that is not possible.
The maximum effects of caffeine typically occur 30-60 minutes after consumption. After 4-6 hours, half of the caffeine will have been processed by your body (half-life).
This means that a cup of coffee that you drink 6 hours before bed could make falling asleep much more difficult. To a lesser degree, it also means a cup of coffee in the afternoon could affect your sleep negatively.
Avoid the negative effects on sleep, by not drinking coffee past noon, and definitely not drinking coffee in the evening hours.
4. Bedroom Lighting
Side Effects of Light Exposure During Sleep
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep
Maybe the most important external factor, bedroom lighting has a significant effect on both the quality of sleep and sleep onset.
Human brains are naturally programmed to produce melatonin when it is dark out. This adaptation has allowed humans to sleep effortlessly at night.
Although, with the abundance of new technology, excess light in the bedroom may worsen your sleep.
For optimal sleep conditions, a bedroom should be completely dark.
One study compares a completely dark room with a moderately lit (barely able to see) room.
This study found that the people in the moderately lit room were able to produce enough melatonin to fall asleep. Although, their nervous systems were much more active than the dark room participants’.
Sleep is the one time our nervous systems get to relax. It only takes moderate levels of light in the bedroom to activate the nervous system and not allow the body to fully relax. In turn, moderately lit bedrooms lead to a lowered quality of sleep.
People who suffer from greater amounts of light exposure during sleep (Nightshift Workers, City Dwellers) are at greater risk of lighting-caused sleep troubles.
To block any outside light from the moon, the sun, street lights, etc. getting quality blinds/shades is very important. Consider purchasing blackout shades to help improve your sleep environment.
Small LED lights on electronics give off enough light to disrupt sleep. For the best quality of sleep, remove any of these light-emitting electronics from your bedroom.
3. Noise Levels
Side Effects of Noise During Sleep
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep
If you have ever used an alarm clock, it won’t be hard to believe that noise affects sleep.
Even a small amount of external noise is enough to activate the nervous system, which does not allow the body the full shutdown.
Consistent low decibel noise such as a fan or air conditioner is far less likely to disrupt sleep. In fact, some people feel they need the sound of a fan to fall asleep.
If possible, avoid leaving the TV turned on when sleeping. Studies show that sleeping with a TV on significantly worsens the quality of sleep and can lead to adverse health effects.
For those who need a TV to help them fall asleep at night, setting a power off timer is an effective way of eliminating the disruptive noise a TV generates throughout the night.
People who live in noisy areas such as cities or busy streets have no choice but to be exposed to lots of disruptive noises. Although there is no way to remove these external factors, there are very effective ways to deal with them.
Sleep buds are earbuds specifically designed for noise cancellation while sleeping. With a vast price range, there are sleep buds available for every budget.
For people who suffer from unavoidable noises during sleep, sleep buds may be an excellent investment that could significantly improve the quality of sleep.
2. Bedroom Temperature
Side Effects of Too Hot or Cold Bedroom
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep
The temperature of the room you sleep in affects how fast you can fall asleep, as well as the quality of sleep you will get.
Generally speaking, a bedroom should be cool. According to most doctors, a bedroom temperature of 60-67° F is considered optimal for the best sleep.
A bedroom can be too cold, although the side effects of a bedroom that is too warm tend to be more pronounced.
Naturally, human bodies are adapted to experience a dip in temperature. Due to this adaptation, a cool room can send a signal to the brain that it is time for bed.
On the topic of temperature, the internal body temperature drops by about 2 degrees during sleep. Some believe that you can help activate this temperature drop by taking a warm shower or bath 1-2 hours before bed (jumpstarts cooling process).
Consider turning on air conditioning or fans well before bedtime to ensure a cool bedroom temperature.
Integrating this practice into your daily routine can help “hack” your circadian rhythm and make falling asleep less difficult.
1. Blue Light Exposure
Side Effects of Evening Blue Light Exposure
Ways To Optimize Quality of Sleep
Nighttime blue light exposure is what I would consider the number one factor that causes people difficulty sleeping.
Light exposure, in general, has an effect on your sleep although not all light is created equal.
Different colors of light emit different wavelengths.
Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation measured by wavelengths. These wavelengths are represented by nanometers (nm).
Nanometers are an incredibly tiny measurement of length. For perspective, 1 nanometer is equal to 1 x 10 ⁻¹⁰ millimeters.
Shorter wavelengths release a greater amount of energy than longer wavelengths.
The graph above shows the range (in nm) of different types of electromagnetic radiation. On the spectrum, visible light that people can see is located in between ultraviolet and infrared.
Above is the same graph zoomed in on visible light.
Since blue light produces shorter wavelengths, it emits more energy which affects the human eyes much differently than longer wavelength light (red light).
When the sun goes down, the Circadian Rhythm sends a signal to the body that it is time for bed.
Although, with the discovery of electricity and modern technology, people are frequently exposed to large amounts of light close to bedtime.
Studies show that nighttime blue light exposure significantly affects the quality of sleep and sleep onset. When blue light contacts the retina (eye), melatonin production is slowed significantly and even can be completely halted.
Exposing yourself to blue light before bed may be the primary reason you are not getting a good night’s sleep. The first step in eliminating chronic nightly blue light exposure is identifying what puts off blue light.
Examples of Blue Light Emitters:
Avoiding blue light sources close to bedtime is the best way to eliminate any blue light-generated sleep difficulties.
Although, for most people that is not a desirable option. Most would benefit from more practical ways of mitigating blue light exposure, without having to give up their screen time.
One option is putting electronics in night mode. Night mode lowers the brightness of your screens and limits the amount of blue light your device puts off. Most modern electronics have this feature and can be set to automatically activate at specific times.
Wearing blue light protective glasses before bed is another to lessen the effects. Blue light glasses are proven to be able to block up to 99% of harmful blue light from contacting your eyes.
The combination of night mode electronics and blue light protective glasses is a very effective method of lessening blue light-caused sleep issues, while still enjoying screentime.
With prices for these glasses dipping as low as five dollars, most people should consider getting a pair of blue light-blocking glasses.
Other Ways To Limit Blue Light Exposure & Optimize Sleep Quality
If you prefer reading a good book at night, there are some ways you can reduce exposure too.
Many lightbulbs give off blue light. Avoid LED or fluorescent light bulbs at night and instead opt for red light-emitting light bulbs in the bedroom.
Studies show that red light has a much lesser effect on sleep when compared to blue light if any effect at all.
So, getting red light bulbs could be a great way to illuminate your bedroom without exposing your eyes to blue light.
With modern lifestyles, completely eliminating blue light before bed is nearly impossible.
That being said, taking steps to reduce the amount of nighttime blue light exposure will significantly improve your quality of sleep.
Best Blue Light Glasses Amazon?
Feiyold Blue Light Blocking Glasses are the best quality per dollar option available on Amazon.
These glasses are incredibly effective; capable of blocking up to 99% of harmful wavelengths from contacting your eyes.
Feiyold glasses are reasonably priced and available in 8 separate color variations.
You will not find a better combination of price, effectiveness, and style available.
Amazon Product Rating: 4.5
Most Budget Friendly Blue Light Glasses Amazon?
For under 8 dollars, Zicoto makes an effective pair of blue light protective glasses.
These glasses are designed to block 90% of Blue Light from hitting your eyes.
Despite being slightly less effective than more expensive options, these glasses can still significantly improve your quality of sleep for a small price.
Amazon Product Rating: 4.4
Best Sleep Mask On Amazon?
The Ukissim Silk Sleep Mask is the best option available on Amazon.
This mask is perfect for those looking to block external light from reaching their eyes, while also not spending much money.
Wearing a sleep mask at night can help optimize sleep quality.
Amazon Product Rating: 4.6
Best Sleep Light And Noise Cancelling Combo Mask Combo?
When it comes to Sleep Light/Noise Cancelling Hybrids, Perytong’s PTL01 is beaten by none.
This product is a sleep mask that wraps around your head and covers your ears (if you want).
Ultra-thin, Bluetooth speakers fit comfortably over the ears. The charge lasts for over 10 hours, capable of playing calming noises throughout the entire night.
A majority of owners agree that the Perytong PTL01 is very comfortable for sleeping. That includes sleeping on your side. This product can help optimize sleep quality for you.
The PTL01 is a great option for those looking to hit two birds with one stone for a very fair price.
Amazon Product Rating: 4.3
Does No Fap Improve Quality of Sleep?
Answer: Probably Not.
There are many people who swear by No Fap. They claim it has significantly benefitted them, including improved quality of sleep.
Although, these claims tend to be anecdotal and unsupported by data.
To learn more check out this article at healthline.com.
University of Michigan Health – https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/health-management/how-to-use-bedroom-lighting-to-improve-sleep-quality
Harvard Health Publishing – https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-blue-light-blocking-glasses-improve-your-sleep-202110262625
Sleep Foundation – https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/light-and-sleep
The Sleep Doctor – https://thesleepdoctor.com/sleep-environment/light-and-sleep/
National Library of Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5611352/
National Library of Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427038/
Runners World – https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a26590745/exercise-body-clock/
Rise Science – https://www.risescience.com/blog/do-blue-light-glasses-work
Medical News Today – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mute-snoring-review