What You Do During the Day Impacts Your Sleep

May 19, 2020
Are you not sleeping well? Believe it or not, what you do during the day has a big impact on whether you can have a night of restful sleep or not.

Sleeping well is essential for the human body to function at its full capacity. When we can’t do it, we may desperately try to apply some rest strategies focused on the moment when we’re trying to sleep. However, what happens during the day also has a huge influence on the way we sleep... perhaps even a lot more than what we do at night.

What You Do During the Day Impacts Your Nightly Rest

Sleeping is a fundamental physiological process aimed at maintaining the proper functioning of our organism. It’s a biological necessity with the goal of:

  • Restoring cellular energy so that our cells oxygenate and regenerate.
  • Restore homeostasis of the central nervous system and other body tissues to preserve their health so they can fully function.

Therefore, sleeping well is essential to:

  • Regulate our emotions.
  • Ensure adequate learning and memory processes.
  • Maintain optimal body weight.
  • Regulate our internal temperature.
  • Optimize our production of hormones.
  • Maintain our cardiac health in top shape.
A man sleeping during the day.

What happens when we don’t sleep well?

Based on the above information, it’s easy to understand that when you don’t sleep well, your cells weaken and your body begins to fail. This loss of functionality could be due to:

  • Decline, confusion, apathy, and irritability – We just feel uncomfortable overall.
  • A deficit in our concentration, memory, and learning – We notice a decrease in our intellectual performance.
  • Tiredness and weakness – We have less energy during the day.
  • Increase in body fat – We gain weight.
  • Blurred vision and photosensitivity – Our vision worsens.
  • Gastrointestinal problems – There’s a higher risk of constipation, diarrhea, and gas accumulation.
  • Premature aging and reduced life expectancy – Various long-term health problems begin.

Not sleeping well increases the risk of depression, anxiety, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular accidents, cancer, and diabetes mellitus, among other diseases. In addition, the risk of accidents increases.

Things to do during the day to encourage sleeping well

Generally, when we can’t sleep, we tend to think, seek, and apply measures to deal with our sleeping troubles immediately before bed. However, many of us forget that what we do during the day has a lot to do with what happens at night. Next, we’re going to give you some advice on what to do during the day to enjoy an adequate night’s rest.

Set a sleep-wake schedule

When we can’t sleep, we enter into a vicious circle in which we may lie down early but get up late. Thus, one of the first steps to be able to sleep is to set a bedtime and waking time. Note that you’ll be very tired on the first day.

Waking up at your scheduled time is a must to ensure you’re able to sleep at night.

In this sense, note that the quality of your sleep is best between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. What this means is that to maximize your nightly rest, you should be awake outside of this time slot.

This is because our metabolic conditions (release of brain neurotransmitters, central temperature, melatonin levels, metabolic rhythm, and brain activity) to properly produce and fulfill our daily functions are ideal during this time slot. The body is programmed to be awake and active outside this time frame.

Our time to go to bed and wake up should be within the aforementioned time slot. The ideal time for adults to sleep is between 7 and 9 hours each day.

Along this line, know that you should also apply your usual sleep-wake schedule during weekends. Even though these days are the time to socialize and celebrate for most people. Thus, it’s hard to respect the established schedule. Unfortunately, the more it departs from it, the worse its impact will be on your sleep for the rest of the week.

Not sleeping well is often the result of a corrupted biological clock. We must stick to healthy sleeping habits in order to recover our internal regulating cycle.

An alarm clock.

Increase your physical activity during the day

Most people who can’t get a restful sleep feel very tired during the day. And it’s no wonder: the human body needs the energy to maintain its basic vital functions.

A lack of sleep reduces the energy available for the activities that aren’t important for our survival. Thus, we’re forced to stick to those activities that are essential to us, and following up on anything else becomes harder. Then, we’ve been so inactive during the day that we don’t feel like sleeping when it’s time to go to bed again. This is because our body doesn’t need it.

As you can see, we progressively alter our internal clock, the one that regulates when we should sleep and when we should be active. So, the less we sleep, the more inactive we become. And the more inactivity, the more insomnia. In the end, we end up normalizing a sleep-wake pattern that’s not healthy at all.

The key to leaving this cycle is physical activity. An active lifestyle is key to sleeping well.

Don’t take naps during the day

As we said above, we must be awake and active during the day so that we’re relaxed and able to sleep throughout the night. Thus, avoiding naps is a fundamental measure for many. The more we sleep during the day, the less we’ll want to sleep at night.

However, taking a nap might help you feel better after a bad night. In fact, a study published by the Journal of Neurology in 2016, found that people who took a nap after a night of fewer than 7 hours of sleep improved their sense of well-being by 20%.

Naps shouldn’t be a daily habit but an occasinoal measure to mitigate the physical consequences of a restless night.

Maintain a varied diet during the day

Maintaining a varied, healthy diet can improve our sleep quality. This is because we’re guaranteeing the proper contribution of micronutrients needed to maintain the integrity of our central nervous system and to produce the appropriate neurotransmitters.

In this sense, our main objective should be to ensure sufficient consumption of tryptophan. This is a serotonin precursor, also known as the wellbeing hormone, and melatonin, the sleeping hormone. Also, we’ll need an adequate carbohydrate intake to increase the bioavailability of tryptophan in our central nervous system.

In addition, we must get enough omega 3, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and vitamins of group B. This helps relax the muscles and contributes to the proper formation of the neurotransmitters involved in sleeping.

Learn more: Does Sleeping Poorly Increase Your Risk of Alzheimers?

Avoid tobacco and alcohol before going to bed

Recent research indicates that smoking or drinking alcohol within 4 hours before our bedtime alters our sleeping processes. As a result, we may wake up tired.

Similarly, tobacco is a stimulating substance, so it activates the central nervous system. This is just the opposite of what should be happening during the final hours of our day.

Why?

Melatonin, the sleeping hormone, only releases during relaxation.

Likewise, alcohol is a depressant. However, alcohol alters the REM phase of sleep when consumed during the final hours of the day. REM is the stage in which our brain decides what information to store and which to discard.

When there’s an alteration in our REM stage, we wake up feeling foggy and struggle to learn, memorize, and concentrate for the rest of the day.

A person smoking and drinking.

Don’t drink coffee after 5 pm

Coffee, tea, and cocoa contain caffeine and theobromine, and we know these are stimulants. So, avoid consuming them after 5 pm. Note that this measure may not be enough for those people who are still stimulated twelve hours later.

Keep electronic devices away from your bed

The use of electronic devices during the 4 hours before going to bed is also a no-no.

The blue light of these types of screens activates the photoreceptors of the retina. Then, these send the wrong message that it’s time to wake up to the brain. Also, it stimulates the same brain area that activates after a shock. Then, this increases cortisol, the stress hormone, and inhibits the production of melatonin, the sleeping hormone.

Needless to say, your health should be the most important thing. However, if for any reason you find it impossible to live without your mobile phone, tablet, or computer during the last hours of your day, then adjust your settings. There’s a way to activate the yellow screen light in most of these devices.

Discover: Tips for Clearing Your Mind and Sleeping Better

Don’t exercise at the end of the day

Physical activity during the final hours of your day increases your cortisol levels and, therefore, inhibits the release of melatonin. As we said above, this is essential for sleeping properly.

Doing physical exercise after 6 pm inhibits the production of melatonin and prevents restful sleep.

The best dinner you can have if you want to sleep well

The optimal dinner for a proper night of sleep is low in fat content. It contains carbohydrates, is rich in protein, and doesn’t contain overly spicy or sugary foods. You must consume it at least two hours before bedtime.

This is because fat, sugar, and spices activate your metabolism, and you’re trying to do just the opposite. Likewise, eating at least two hours before the time when you’re going to sleep is essential. Then, when it’s time to go to sleep, your body will be functioning at its bare minimum and you can sleep properly.

Likewise, high glycemic carbohydrates generate a peak of insulin that, in fair measure, help include tryptophan to the CNS. Due to the negative impact of overstimulation of the pancreas to release insulin, this measure requires a prior assessment of its risks and benefits. In addition, including melatonin-rich food such as cherries, oatmeal, and bananas could reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep and help you maintain it overnight.

Overall, remember that what we do during the day is important for a good night’s sleep. In reality, it’s quite simple: get active, stay away from the presence of stimulants, and follow a healthy diet.