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How Can I Practice Better Sleep Habits? Written By: Dr. Ankita Shah, feb 2021

healthy sleeping habits, circadian rhythm

Do you often go through the day feeling sleepy, sluggish, fatigued and lethargic, even after 7-8hrs of sleep? If you have persistent symptoms of daytime drowsiness it could be linked to your TMJD pain, sleep and health habits.

Fine-tune your body's clock

The 8 hour sleep guideline may not always work for everybody, and you may need to adjust it a little to get it right for you.

Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle. When it’s dark at night, your eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s time to feel tired. Your brain, in turn, sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which makes your body tired and sleepy within 2-3 hrs. That’s why exposure to light from mobile devices during the night may alter circadian rhythms and sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin secretion drops in the morning and cortisol secretion increases which makes you more alert and energetic.

Fine-tune your body's clock

Once you find your body's perfect internal sleep-clock, stay consistent with it. The less you vary from the norm, the more alert you will be during the day and the better you will function.

Practice better sleep habits

If you find yourself having difficulty getting to bed on time every night, there are a few things you can do to help you get to bed quicker:

1. Ditch your electronics: This may be the simplest yet hardest habit to break. The artificial light emitting from your cellphone, tablet, laptop, television set, e-reader, portable game console, etc, tricks your brain into believing it needs to stay awake because it associates light with daytime. This deception can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which in turn leads to poorer sleep at night and feeling rundown during the day.

2. Keep your room dark and quiet: Ditching those electronics may not be enough to create the ideal sleeping quarters. If possible, turn off all lights. If this is not possible, leave one dim light on or use a nightlight.

3. Temperature of the Room: The temperature of the room should be cool around 20C for a healthy sleep.

4. Foods to avoid before bed : Many people have a hard time resisting caffeinated beverages before bedtime. Caffeine and sugar are stimulants to increase alertness at that crucial time when your body wants to wind down but is often followed by a crashing feeling that can last much longer after. Fatty foods and processed carbs have also been associated with daytime sleepiness. These foods may fill you up but they're not loaded with the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to produce ample amounts of energy. Spicy foods close to bedtime. Spicy foods are notorious for causing heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. Heartburn can be made worse while lying down.

A Healthier Lifestyle Leads to Healthier Sleep

Diet and exercise can go a long way towards getting better rest at night and being more alert during the day. Balancing healthy eating choices with routine exercise can dramatically affect the way you perform throughout the day.

Eat more healthy foods. Eating more foods that naturally boost your daily energy levels can go a long way in helping you feel more alert everyday. Eat more natural, unprocessed carbs. Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, amino acids, proteins and high in vitamins. A short list of high energy foods would be: leafy greens, whole grains, tree nuts, lean meats, eggs, fruits (especially apples, bananas, and blueberries), and bell peppers just to name a few.

Exercise more. Routine exercise can go a long way in curing your daytime fatigue. Exercise builds endurance and energy. Exercise also releases endorphins which will leave you simply "feeling good" about yourself.

Poor sleep could also be a sign of a disorder

If you practice the above guidelines of a healthier lifestyle and better sleeping habits but still find yourself suffering from daytime drowsiness, it may be a sign of a more severe medical condition such as: orofacial pain, TMJD, sleep disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), anemia, thyroid problems, narcolepsy, depression, restless leg syndrome, undiagnosed heart disease, or deficiencies in key nutrients. If you think that you may be suffering from one of these medical conditions you should contact your physician or local sleep clinic immediately.

Getting a good night’s sleep makes it easier to take on the day with confidence.

Please feel free to ask us any questions. You can always contact us for questions or to schedule a consultation.

Keywords : sleep training, sleep hygiene, circadian rhythm, body clock, TMJ, Foods to avoid before bedtime