Being constantly tired gets old and affects your daily life. The obvious solution is to get more sleep, but we only have so much time in our schedules either.
The next best thing is to improve the quality of your nightly sleep. If you stick to a routine and form new habits, you can get a full, restful night’s sleep that will leave you feeling alert and healthy the next morning. We rounded up a few of the best tips for getting better sleep:
Put your electronics down and unwind.
Start a “power down” phase before you sleep. It’s ideal to start an hour before your bedtime, allowing yourself a window to wind down and unplug from all your electronic devices. Get a few small tasks done (setting your schedule for the next day, packing a lunch, etc.) in the first 20 minutes so you’re not thinking about them in bed, then do your nightly bathroom routine. When you finally lie down in bed, you’ll be tempted to use your phone or laptop out of habit, but it’s important that you keep them away. The blue light from the screens of your devices prevents melatonin from being produced,
which is the hormone that tells our body it’s time to sleep, helping us get tired. If you absolutely need to use one of your gadgets while in bed, try downloading a light adjusting app like F.lux for your phone or computer.
It tints your screen according to the time of day/night so your body can recognize appropriately when it’s closer to night time and then produce melatonin as usual. It can also reduce eye strain and headaches since it’s not as harsh on the eyes like your screen would be regularly. iPhones may not have access to F.lux, but you can mimic similar results with the Night Shift function in the display settings. Again, it’s more ideal to just have electronics off the last hour before sleep. Our gadgets can even cause sleep-preventing anxiety,
so it’s more than just the screens causing issues. Thinking about that text chain or latest work email will keep your mind racing and you’ll find it hard to fall asleep. Let it go, it can wait until the morning! Next time you get ready for bed, set your devices down and let your mind and eyes have some peace.
Do some stretching.
Your day spent slouching at the computer and sitting for hours can lead to tense muscles and joints. All of that tension builds up and can make you restless or in pain when trying to fall asleep at night. Try some simple stretches before sleeping to loosen up; you can even do them in the comfort of your bed. A thorough, light stretch routine not only breaks down that tension but also eases your mind and steadies your breathing. You’ll feel loose, warmed up and peaceful—the perfect conditions for falling into a deep slumber. One easy routine to try is a “happy baby” stretch. It’s a great stretch to open your hips and back, which carry lots of tension throughout the day. When we’re tense, we can’t relax, which means no sleep. To do the stretch, lie on your back, bend your knees to your chest, and grab hold of your feet and pull them to your sides. Breathe in and exhale for 8 to 10 full breaths and rock side to side as you do it. Continue as many times as you need to until feeling totally relaxed and limber. Fitness magazine’s website has a list of other pre-sleep stretches
to do in bed that you can try out too.
Consider what you eat and drink.
Sometimes you can’t avoid having coffee throughout the day or getting hungry before bed. Both can unfortunately hinder our sleep patterns or even falling asleep in the first place. For pre-bed eating, our sleep can be disrupted by digestion. And for caffeine, the effects are obvious: it’s made to keep you awake and active, so it’ll do the same if you consume it later in the day/evening and carry over into the time you’re trying to fall asleep. Stick to sleep-friendly, lighter foods if you’re too hungry to ignore your late-night cravings. There are actually some foods that can promote the release of melatonin, like turkey, milk and honey. Almonds, chamomile and bananas are other options with an abundance of serotonin and magnesium—both of which are key components in the sleep process.
Another thing to watch out for is alcohol consumption before bed. While it may seem like it makes you drowsy, it will end up disrupting the latter half of your sleep cycle in the night,
according to John. E Brown, MD of the University of Maryland. You can still enjoy your foods, coffee and wine—just make sure it’s not too late in the evening. Keep track of what you’re eating and drinking, and when you’re doing it!
Go to bed at the same time every night.
Sleep patterns are different for everybody. Some people are just wired to stay up later than others, so you need to pay attention to your personal preference. A main focal point for improved sleep, though, is sticking to a set schedule. That means going to the bed at the same time every night. Yes, weekends and holidays are included. Obviously that can be hard to stick to, but the benefits are worth it. You might have to set an alarm for yourself to go to bed at first so that you stay on schedule. Why is it so important? Not staying consistent with your sleeping cycles can have effects on you in the future. Your long-term health relies on many of the processes which occur during sleep:
liver cleansing, muscle building, tissue regeneration, and blood sugar level normalization are the most important ones. When we get to bed on a set-in-stone schedule, our body is allowed to train itself for sleep and complete those processes on a regular, ideal basis. Ignoring a solid sleep schedule means ignoring that recovery and regeneration period for your body and mind. Do your best to minimize odd sleeping and waking hours—it will be worth it in the long run.