The sleep/wake cycle (a.k.a. the circadian rhythm) is a 24-hour cycle that regulates when you fall asleep and when you wake.
As part of this sleep cycle, the body produces less Melatonin (a sleep-promoting hormone) during the day and more of it at night to help the body prepare for sleep.
Getting better sleep starts with adopting healthy sleep habits you can use throughout the day to help promote better sleep.
Good sleep habits include watching what and when you eat, exercising during the day, managing stress, and sticking to a consistent bedtime schedule.
If you hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off hoping to squeeze in a few more minutes, you probably don’t feel rested enough upon waking. This sleepy feeling might often carry with you throughout the day. Guess what? You’re not alone.
In fact, a 2020 survey by the National Sleep Foundation indicates that more than one-third of U.S. adults feel sleepy on average three times a week. And those who feel sleepy even more often (five to seven days a week) indicate particularly high rates of irritability (52 percent), headaches (40 percent), and feeling unwell (34 percent). 
The importance of sleep can’t be understated, as consistent, quality sleep affects both your mental and physical health. Healthy sleep helps to maintain your overall well-being, playing a pivotal role in nearly every body function. Experts recommend that most adults need at least 7 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night. 
It might be time to revamp your sleep habits, from your morning routine to your bedtime habits—and everything in between. Learn how to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, with simple ways to improve sleeping habits.
How Can You Get Better Sleep?
For starters, it helps to understand how your sleep/wake cycle works. Called the circadian rhythm, this 24-hour cycle regulates when you fall asleep and wake up. As part of this sleep cycle, the body produces chemicals and hormones, including melatonin (the sleep-promoting hormone). The body produces more melatonin as it gets dark and less melatonin as it gets light.
The actual sleep cycle is categorized into four stages of sleep that include dozing off and subdued stages, deep sleep, and REM sleep. To get restorative sleep (when you wake up feeling rested and refreshed) involves moving smoothly from one stage of the sleep cycle to the next. Usually, you progress through four to six rounds of the sleep cycle each night. 
Many factors impact your sleep quality and sleep quantity. For instance, factors that influence the number of awakenings throughout the night and limit the depth of sleep include age, stress, medical issues, diet, sleep environment, medications, and more.  While some of these issues you can control (think diet and sleep environment), others are beyond your control (like age and medical issues). The key to how to wake up feeling refreshed is focusing on those factors that you can control by making lifestyle changes to support a healthy sleep schedule.
What Are Good Sleeping Habits?
Getting a good night’s sleep really begins with what you do during the day. To improve your sleep, you can make some simple lifestyle changes to improve your sleep hygiene. What should you do in your daily routine to get good sleep? Adopt these healthy habits to get better sleep. [2, 5,6,7,8,9]
Get some natural light in the morning. Help your circadian rhythm by getting outside in the morning for exposure to bright, natural light. Doing so will help you wake up and feel energized. Perhaps you can have your coffee on the back porch or take your dog for a walk.
Exercise during the day. This can be a terrific way to start your day, as movement energizes you and decreases daytime sleep But it also helps prepare you to fall asleep once you climb into bed at night. Even taking a 10-minute walk will help you get better sleep. Avoid exercising within three hours of your bedtime to give your body time to relax.
Manage stress. When you struggle to fall or stay asleep because you’re stressed out and worrying about problems, this can affect your sleep. In fact, stress can cause difficulty sleeping, lack of energy, and mood issues such as irritability, anger, and sadness, among other problems.  Practice stress management techniques to help get your stress under control and promote better sleep.
Check your diet. Watching what (and when) you eat and drink plays a role in how well you sleep. Start by eating a balanced diet filled with nutrient-dense foods. Don’t eat heavy or spicy meals within two to three hours of bedtime to allow your body enough time to digest. Eat lighter snacks near bedtimeif you’re hungry. Don’t drink alcohol within a few hours of bedtime, either, as this disrupts your sleep Ditto for caffeine. While it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, don’t drink too much of any liquid before bed to avoid frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom.
Limit or avoid naps. When you’re sleepy, you might take a daytime nap to make up for that sleep deficit. However, doing so can negatively impact your ability to fall asleep at your regular bedtime.
Shut down those screens! The blue light emitted from your cell phone, tablet, TV, and other electronic devices tricks your mind into thinking it’s daytime. (Remember your circadian rhythm and the body’s decreased Melatonin production when exposed to light?) Turn off your screens about one hour before bedtime to get better sleep.
Practice relaxation techniques. Help your mind and body get into relaxation mode with calming techniques such as deep breathing, bedtime yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or gentle stretching.
Create a sleep-friendly environment. To help your body transition to sleep, dim the lights, especially before bed. This helps cue the body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. To help keep your sleep environment dark, consider using blackout shades or curtains in your bedroom. Keep your room at a temperature that’s comfortable for you, whether you like warmer temps or you prefer a cooler sleep And make sure your bedroom is quiet. Some people, however, find it relaxing to listen to soft, soothing music or ambient sounds.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Forget the idea of sleeping in on weekends, as that disrupts a regular sleep Instead, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Create a consistent bedtime routine. What do you do to wind down every night? Your sleep routine might include relaxing activities (such as taking a warm bath or meditating), bedtime rituals (brushing your teeth or putting on face cream) or a combination of both. Do whatever activities work for you to help you wind down and signal to your body that it’s time to transition to sleep.
Getting consistent, quality sleep is tied to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Ultimately, the key to sleeping well every day boils down to your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle working properly. If making the above lifestyle don’t seem to be helping your sleep cycle, consider asking your health care provider if a melatonin supplement may be right for you. And if lack of sleep is affecting your mood, consider a mood supplement as well.†
How to wake up feeling refreshed starts with better sleep hygiene—habits you can use every day to help promote better sleep. From getting natural sunlight exposure and eating healthy to exercising during the day and limiting screen time, you can do a lot to ensure you get better sleep every night.
Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.
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