We all know how important sleep is and that getting adequate amounts of good quality sleep is imperative to optimal health and well-being...but that's easier said than done. In our society today, so many people neglect sleep and spread themselves too thin in order to catch up on work, family or other areas of life.
Are you feeling run-down or exhausted? Can't seem to focus? Feeling irritable out of no where? Your sleep patterns may need a little attention.
Today I want to talk with you about five ways you can start improving your sleep tonight.
SET A BEDTIME AND STICK TO IT.
Hate to break it to ya but you’re not a “hero” for functioning on four hours of sleep. There are very few people in this world who truly only need 4-5 hours of sleep, but most of us are not those people. Set a bedtime for yourself that will allow you to get at least eight hours of sleep before you have to get up in the morning and get into your bed at that time. While this might be weird the first few nights (especially if you’re like how I used to be and would start my sleep cycle by falling asleep on the couch), your body will begin to get in the routine and will eventually start to do its thing to prepare itself for rest at that time every night
PUT AWAY ELECTRONICS ONE HOUR (AT THE VERY LEAST) BEFORE BEDTIME.
While it’s super great that our phones and even some of our TVs offer “nighttime mode” where the screen dims and the blue light is replaced by yellow light to help melatonin levels increase, having our electronics shoved in our faces as we “try” to fall asleep isn’t prepping us for deep rest. If you’re used to falling asleep with the tv on, try listening to some music or a podcast. Or, read a book or meditate. If you're still having a hard time falling asleep, try 4-7-8 breathing. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold at the top of your inhale for seven seconds, exhale through your nose for eight seconds. It's totally normal to feel a little dizzy doing this, especially if it's your first time. Always remember to do this type of breathing while sitting or lying down. I like to lay in my bed with one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly. When I inhale, I feel my belly expand and when I exhale, my belly contracts as all of the air is pushed out of my lungs.
GET INTO A NIGHTTIME ROUTINE THAT YOU FOLLOW RITUALISTICALLY.
Wash your face, brush your teeth. Getting into a routine helps your body understand that going through those steps each night means that it's time for rest. Pro Tip: lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, do whatever you need to do to be prepared for the next day the night before. This will help you sleep better knowing that your morning tasks have already been taken care of.
MAKE YOUR ROOM A SLEEP SANCTUARY.
Make your room / bed inviting, peaceful and calm. If you have dirty (or clean) laundry piled up on various surfaces in your room, cups or glasses on your nightstands, papers from work, etc., you’re not creating a space of tranquility and peace. I’m going to sound like your mom right now, but clean your room. When your room is clean and your mind doesn’t have stressors to look at (clothes to put away, dirty dishes that belong in the kitchen), it will know that your room is where sleep and rest happen, which will help you sleep deeply. BONUS: invest in blackout shades, an eye mask and a white noise maker. These are my essentials and must-haves for the most restful sleep possible.
DITCH THE NIGHTCAP
While alcohol may help us fall asleep faster, it's not helping us enter into actual sleep. Alcohol before bed prevents us from entering the second half of our sleep cycle where REM sleep occurs. When we don't enter into REM sleep, we wake up feeling more tired, less energized, unable to focus as well, inexplicably hungry, etc. Do yourself a favor and try using one of the tips above to help you fall asleep instead of resorting to a nightcap.
Do you have any favorite tips for better sleep? Share them in the comments below!