Let’s face it, we live in a fast paced and overstimulated world. Sometimes this means it’s incredibly hard to defuse and relax. Stress, tech overuse, and poor sleep habits can all contribute to an insufficient night’s sleep. The good news is that there are quite a few keystone bedtime habits you can begin that dramatically improve your sleep. Everyone deserves a full night of rest! Here are a few tips to guide you to a better night’s sleep.
Turn Off Electronics
It may be tempting to watch TV, browse the web, or check social media at bedtime – especially with the smartphones on our nightstand! Unfortunately, this habit can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops emit enough light to disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, making it difficult to fall asleep. It’s a good practice to turn off all electronics at least one hour before preparing to go to bed. This will ease the transition of your body into rest & recovery mode.
Keep a Glass of Water Handy
The most obvious reason to keep a glass of water nearby is to prevent having to walk to the kitchen at 3 AM if you’re thirsty. Getting out of bed and turning on lights may end up doing more harm than good. It may stimulate you enough to make it difficult to fall back asleep. Another great reason to keep water handy is so that you can hydrate first thing in the morning after a long stretch without water.
The rule of morning exercise may not apply to every person, but it is generally accepted that the earlier you work out, the more likely you’ll sleep well at night. Exercising in the morning allows your body to reset its sleep/wake cycle, especially if you’re able to exercise outdoors.
Write Down Worries
Rather than lying in bed and flooding yourself with tomorrow’s worries, try keeping a journal nearby to quickly jot down your most pressing thoughts. You can create a rough list of things you want or need to do tomorrow before you forget. This allows you to rest easy knowing that your worrisome thoughts will be much less likely to interfere with falling asleep.
Avoid Alcohol at Bedtime
Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it can actually be a detriment to your sleep quality. While you may initially fall asleep with the aide of alcohol, it actually limits your REM sleep, which can lead to excessive grogginess in the morning - AKA the dreaded hangover. Not to mention, alcohol may cause you to wake up more often to use the restroom during the night!
At night, your body produces a sleep inducing hormone called Melatonin. Melatonin production is greatly influenced by the amount of light you are exposed to during the day. Indoor light exposure in the late evening has been shown to significantly reduce melatonin production. Melatonin is key to regulating your sleep cycle. Therefore, if you begin to dim your lights about 90 minutes before bedtime, your body will be much more acclimated for rest.
Try White Noise
You may live in a noisy neighborhood or just a busy city. Maybe you just have pets that love to keep you up at night. Or, perhaps you’re just a sensitive sleeper. Either way, white noise may be an easy fix to your sleepless nights. White noise helps the brain to block out sounds that otherwise might wake you up. Contrariwise, for some people, white noise can worsen the problem. But for many others, the soothing sounds of white noise are just what they need to sleep through the night. The most convenient way to start is keeping a box or ceiling fan on while you sleep.
Choose High Quality Bedding
Your bedding influences your sleep in more ways than you might think. If you’re too hot, too cold, or just plain uncomfortable, it will be impossible to get your necessary hours...even if you’ve done everything else right! Purchasing high quality sheets like PeachSkinSheets will keep your body temperature just right and give you that breathable, soothing, high thread count feel.
Meditation & Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a “moment by moment” practice that has been shown to improve overall health and wellbeing. You can use a mindfulness practice or meditation to improve your sleep habits as well. Mindfulness may help your mind and body to relax by bringing your attention to the present moment, rather than stressing about the future or dwelling in the past. By practicing this just 20 minutes a day, you can have a much smoother transition into deep sleep.
Read a Book
Reading has long been considered a calm inducing activity. Stress levels are said to be significantly reduced after reading for just 6 minutes! Choosing to read a book at bedtime will also help ditch the TV or other electronic device habits that you’re trying to break. Eliminating screen time in favor of reading is a great way to get a restful night’s sleep.
You can get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes it just takes a little extra motivation to change some bedtime habits and get into a continual routine. Try some (or all!) of these tips, and you may find they were the missing ingredient to sleeping well again!