We’ve talked about the importance of sleep before and what foods will help you get a better night’s sleep. But if you’re still finding it hard to drift off to sleep once your head hits the pillow, what else can you do? As it turns out, a lot. Science has shown that routines and certain habits can help your body prepare to shut down and tune out so that you can have a long and deep sleep every night.
By keeping a regular routine, your body begins to react and prepare itself for sleep around the same time every day. Come up with something that prepares you to relax, wind down, and even makes you excited to hit the hay. Maybe it’s a long bath, using essential oils, or some really beautiful pajama’s. You spend around a third of every day sleeping, so why not make it a rewarding experience? That also means keeping it somewhat consistent on weekends to keep your body’s internal clock on time.
Avoid overheating and keep cool for a longer and healthier sleep. That’s right! Sleeping in a cool room helps your body prepare for sleep and go through sleep cycles more easily. Plus, it’s been shown to increase your metabolism compared to sleeping in a warm or hot room!
Bright lights stimulate and energize us, as our bodies respond thinking it’s daytime. If possible, dim your lights around the same time every day and allow yourself to be in darkness as the sun goes down. Bright lights suppress melatonin which you want your body to start creating as you prepare for sleep. That also means getting enough bright light during the day! If you’re working in an office with bad lighting all day, try and take a daily walk as it means your body is suppressing and creating melatonin when you want it to.
Creating natural light and surrounding yourself with light that reflects the time of day also means keeping yourself away from screens. Doctors recommend turning off your phone and TV about 1-2 hours before you want to go to sleep. Not only do the screens make us wired but it’s easy to keep your mind running with work problems, daily stresses, and what you have to accomplish the next day when your phone, email, and text messages are right in front of you.
Not only can coffee lower your iron absorption but for many people, it can affect the amount and quality of sleep they get a night. Since caffeine can remain in your body anywhere from 4-6 hours after digesting it, it can definitely have an impact on your sleep. Many people find cutting coffee and alcohol completely does wonders for their sleep since they don’t have caffeine interfering with their energy levels during the day and therefore feel tired when their body is ready to wind down. If you can’t give up your daily coffee then try only having it in the morning.
Alcohol, on the other hand, will make you sleepy but you’ll likely wake up in the middle of the night feeling dehydrated or even with a headache. It can also affect the quality of your sleep. So although many people have a glass of red wine to unwind at the end of the day, it can ultimately hurt the quality of your sleep.
Invest in a comfortable and quality mattress, pillows, and bedspread. If you’re comfortable, you’ll have a better sleep and won’t wake up sore or exhausted from tossing and turning. But don’t stop there, think of how you immediately react when you walk into a spa and there are candles lit, the smell of oils in the air, and soft music playing. Your body instantly reacts to the setting. Your bedroom should give you the same reaction. That also means not using your bedroom to work, scroll through social media, or as a dumping ground for dirty laundry. Making your bedroom a sleep haven means your body reacts to the setting and prepares for the activity of sleeping the minute you walk into it.
You’ll probably be shocked to learn that it takes as little as 10 minutes of exercise a day to improve your sleep! That’s an incredibly easy thing to do for such a big payout. Staying active and working out not only relieves stress and can make you happier, it can prepare your body for sleep at the end of the day. For some people, working out at night only stimulates them, making it harder to sleep while others find it helps them doze off faster. It depends on the person.
For many people, a white noise app helps drown out noise from a busy neighbourhood or the constant chatter in their heads. The sounds of rain, waves, or nature is particularly soothing for some. Plus, once your body gets used to the routine it can mean that it will begin to react to the noises and prepare to fall asleep immediately.
We’re big advocates of daily meditation. We’ve even posted about the many scientific benefits of meditating. Meditation can also help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep, whether it be by calming you during the day or by using a guided meditation before bed to help you relax, unwind, tune out, and fall into a deep slumber. There are endless sleep meditation apps, podcasts, and even Youtube videos for you to try.
Going to be bed at the end of a long day should be a treat! You’ve earned it! Why not invest in a humidifier with essential oils, some candles, or bath salts? Getting a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a reward that you look forward to. Changing your attitude and experience with sleep can go a long way in improving your nights and how you feel during the day.
Want to learn more about getting a good night’s sleep? Read our post Eat Your Way to A Better Night’s Sleep!