Sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go beyond daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep affects every physical, mental and emotional activity including judgement, coordination and reaction times. The effects may include fatigue, lethargy, moodiness, irritability, depression, lack of motivation, difficulty in learning, concentration and decision making, memory loss, premature skin aging, weak immune system and various other health issues. To avoid all this, sleep for enough number of hours and emphasise on the quality of those sleeping hours. Spend enough time in different stages of sleep.

Here are few tips to improve your sleep quality and the number of hours you have spent asleep:

Follow a regular sleeping schedule: Maintain a regular sleep-and-wake up schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning including weekends.

Aim for a regular exercise schedule: Regular physical activity, be it walk, aerobics, gym, yoga etc., helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep and awaken less often during the night. Do a moderate workout for 30 to 45 minutes daily preferably in the morning.

Get sunshine daily: Get some sunshine as it is the best source of vitamin D. It improves your energy levels, reduces depression and fatigue symptoms. Sunlight improves your sleep quality also by regulating your circadian rhythm and helps you sleep faster and deeper. Get enough sunshine especially earlier in the day.

Eat sensibly throughout the day: Eat hearty foods – protein and healthy fats more often to help keep your blood sugar stable. Include proteins and healthy fats with every meal and never eat refined sugar by itself. Instead of eating a bunch of simple carbs, like a big bowl of noodles, try eating big-hearty dishes that are chockfull of proteins and healthy fats to give your body plenty of long-lasting energy. Avoid processed carbohydrates, soda and other sugary beverages. Eat one good size of vegetables with every major meal. Eat more healthy fats – avocados, nuts, eggs, fatty fish and coconut oil. Drink lots of water throughout the day. All these healthy eating habits will help you sleep sound at night.

Be vigilant of the foods and beverages you consume just before going to bed: Bad foods like processed carbs, refined sugar and synthetic oils create inflammation within your body and damage your gut lining. This will hinder your good sleep pattern, its duration and quality. Do not eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime. Avoid especially consuming alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar during this time. Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine contribute to sleeplessness. Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system which helps some people fall asleep, but the effects can be felt in a few hours and people wake up. Nicotine is a stimulant which speeds heart rate and thinking and thus hinders a good sleep. Avoid it before bedtime or the best is to give up these bad substances.

Practice a relaxation technique to prepare for sleep: There are many relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation that can make you feel calm and counter stressful thoughts. Stop using electronics an hour before bedtime. Try not to exercise rigorously within a few hours of bedtime.

Postpone your worries and learn how to handle stress before bedtime: Practicing cognitive behavioural therapy can help to postpone worries and change negative expectations. It will help build more confidence that will make you learn to handle stress and have a good night’s sleep. This technique can also help to postpone thinking of every personal problem during the day attributing on lack of sleep. It can ensure a more restful sleep.

Develop a better sleeping environment: Learning how to sleep better includes sleep hygiene and keeping the bedroom cool, dark, quiet and free from distractions like television, laptops and other gadgets. Use your bedroom only for sleeping and relaxing. Create a pre-bed ritual to get your body and mind ready for sleep.

When you are in deep sleep, your body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead. A sound sleep for enough hours boosts your mood, makes you feel more energetic and alert all day long from the moment you wake up until your regular bedtime.

These healthy lifestyle changes can combat sleep problems, such as difficulty in falling asleep, shorter sleep duration and restless slumber.