Are you tired of tossing and turning at night not being able to sleep? Do you want to feel better emotionally, physically and have more energy? These 8 simple tips will help you sleep better, feel energetic and more productive during your day.
We live in a culture that values high productivity, constantly being busy and rushing around. You want to keep up with all your chores, hang out with your friends, get your errands done, and still have time to binge watch your favorite Netflix show.
You may think that cutting back on sleep is the solution to your problems. It’s simple really, if you sleep less, then you can have time to do more.
Sadly, if you deprive yourself of sleep you will experience a serious negative domino effect in your life. If you want to prioritize self-care and wellness in your life, it is vital to understand the importance of sleep
Consequences of sleep deprivation
When you sacrifice your sleep, other parts of your life will suffer. A common misconception is that you can learn to get by on less than 6 hours a night. However, research suggests that adults need at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested.
If you are in a chronic state of sleep deprivation, your brain is flooded with stress hormones which cause inflammation in your mind and body. Over time, you put yourself at risk of becoming physically ill and possibly depressed or anxious.
Adequate sleep, on the other hand, helps stabilize your mood, appetite, memory, energy and boosts your immune system.
How to improve your sleep & feel better
Now that you know how critical sleep is to your overall physical and mental health, it is helpful to identify how to prioritize and improve your overall sleep.
To begin with, it’s helpful to recognize that good sleep habits help you get a restful night’s sleep. The sooner you learn how integrate these 8 tips into your daily schedule, the better you will feel. Check out this fantastic article on Huffpost to learn more about the surprising health benefits of sleep.
1. Establish a nightly ritual
Remember when you were a child, your parents would give you a bath, read you a bedtime story and tuck you into bed? Wasn’t that wonderful?
Our body and circadian rhythm respond well to routine. When you establish an evening bedtime ritual, your body and mind understand that it is time to relax, unwind and transition to sleep. As a result, you have an easier time falling and staying asleep.
You can keep your bedtime routine simple and even borrow mine if you like.
I begin getting ready for bed around 8:30pm every night. I put my phone on airplane mode and read a book for about 1 hour.
Around 9:15pm, I brush my teeth, follow my skin care routine and do a yoga/meditation practice for 30 minutes. I typically fall asleep between 10:00-10:30pm and wake up around 6:30-7am.
My sleep habits have been an instrumental part of my self-care and mental health wellness. It has kept my anxiety at bay. You can check out my article on how to overcome depression to learn more about this.
2. Eliminate screen time
The blue light that is emitted from screens (smart phones, computer, tablet or TV) suppress melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone). When you are looking at a device at night, the blue light appears like sunlight in your eyes. Your brain thinks it’s day time (even though it’s not). Consequently, it’s harder to fall and stay asleep.
To prevent this problem, put your phone and other devices away at least 1 hour before bed. I know, this is hard to do, especially if you want to catch up on your emails and social media.
Think of it this way, if you put your phone away, you’ll sleep better, be in a good mood the following day and have more energy. If you stay up checking out your Instagram or Facebook feeds for a few hours…well, let’s just say you’ll regret it the next morning.
Not sure what to do when you put your device away? Why don’t you try reading (a real paperback book), writing, talking to someone or meditating.
3. Use your bed only for sex & sleep
Don’t use your bed to do work, pay bills, or watch TV. If you use your bed as a work space, your mind will have negative associations and it will be harder for you to fall and stay asleep. Instead, use your bed only for rest, sleep and sex…the things that bring you pleasure, rest and relaxation.
4. Ditch caffeine
Coffee, tea and chocolate are delicious treats that you can enjoy in the morning. These treats will suppress melatonin (hormone that induces sleep) and help you stay awake and alert.
Remember, caffeine activates your sympathetic nervous system (your flight or fight response) and should be used in small quantities.
These treats are stimulants (a type of drug) and they have a 6 hour half-life. A half-life is the amount of time your body takes to absorb about half the amount of a drug. Keeping that in mind, don’t consume caffeine after 10am, if you want to be able to fall asleep by 10pm.
If you’re tired or sleepy in the late afternoon, go outside and take a brisk walk, which will help you stay alert during the day and sleep better at night.
Exposure to sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm because your eyes recognize daytime, versus nighttime. Check out this great article by Christine Carter if you want to learn more about resetting your circadian rhythm.
5. Make your room dark & cold
Create a restful and relaxing environment by making your room an oasis for sleep. It’s important that your room is dark and cold. Creating this type of environment will help you fall asleep easier. Check out this awesome article on Huffpost, written by sleep specialist Dr. Winter, to learn more about the best temperature for sleep.
If you’re traveling, you can make a sleep kit. I love this article that Jane Chung wrote about her sleep travel kit. I have used her suggestions when I travel, and it’s made a significant difference in my sleep quality.
6. Yoga & meditation for sleep
To fall asleep peacefully every night, part of my ritual is a yoga and 30 minute meditation practice. Adopting this stress-reducing technique can lower your anxiety and ease you into sleep.
My favorite sleep meditation is on Meditation Studio’s app Deep Sleep collection. I also love videos by yoga instructor Maris Aylwardin.
If you want to learn more tricks on how to fall asleep faster, check out this article by Sharon Ackman on How to Fall Asleep in 120 Seconds.
7. Use aromatherapy
Lavender essential oil has been found to have stress reducing and calming effects.
Before bed, you can put 1-2 drops of my favorite Organic Lavender French aromatherapy essential oil on your wrist. Take three deep inhales and exhales from your wrist when you’re in bed.
8. Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Try your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time, every day of the week, including weekends.
I know this is hard, but it has made a significant difference in how I feel if I keep a schedule.
The reason behind having a regular sleep-wake schedule is that it helps maintain your circadian rhythm. Staying consistent with your schedule and your nightly rituals will help you transition to bedtime and get a good night’s rest.
Sleep is an essential part of your life and something that you need to devote in doing to preserve your mental and physical health. Establishing good habits will make a significant difference in your life because you will find that you have more energy and feel better.
To get a good night’s rest, it is important to establish a nightly ritual, eliminate screen time (at least 1 hour before bed), use your bed only for sex and sleep and stop drinking caffeine after 10am. You can also try yoga and meditation, as well as keeping your room cold and dark. Most importantly, you need to stick to a sleep-wake schedule (even on weekends). Once you follow these 8 tips, you will notice a big improvement in your sleep quality and overall well-being.
What are your favorite sleep tips? Have you tried something different that has worked wonders for you? Do you feel differently if you get a good night’s rest? Please share your stories and comments below.