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How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Try these to tips to have a better night’s sleep and to feel more refreshed and energized.

Does this sound familiar? Pretending not to hear your alarm clock after a night spent tossing and turning?

Not being able to sleep is not only frustrating, but it can also be bad for your health.

A lack of sleep can adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, weight, and concentration [1]. Plus there is the added effect of feeling off both inside and out. How many of us can relate to those pesky dark eye circles after a sleepless night? Not fun.

It’s no surprise many of us struggle with sleep. We are working longer, have more stress, and dealing with information overload each day.

Luckily, there are ways you can improve your sleep and feel more refreshed and energized throughout the day. The benefits of a good night’s sleep seem to be endless – brighter mood, improved concentration, improved health, plus the bonus of glowing hair and better skin!

Give these few tips a try and hopefully, you’ll be on your way to restful sleep night after night.

Get To Know Your Circadian Rhythm

Your circadian rhythm is responsible for your internal system that regulates feelings of sleepiness or wakefulness. Also known as your sleep/wake cycle, it continuously operates over 24-hours and is what your body relies on to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

Understanding your circadian rhythm is the first step to a better night’s sleep. There is some truth to people being “morning people” or “night owls”.  Each person has their own unique sleep/wake cycle!

Your sleep/wake cycle can naturally change as you get older and it can be affected by changes in your schedule. On average, most people feel a strong desire to sleep between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm (hello post-lunch crash!) and from 2:00 am to 4:00 am.

As your circadian rhythm is linked to light, there are a few things you can do to improve your natural sleep/wake cycle.

  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule – try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This will help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle. Unfortunately, this also includes weekends. Sigh.
  • Reduce or eliminate naps – We mentioned that afternoon crash. Though if you can, try and avoid naps when possible. If you need a nap, try and limit it to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
  • Expose yourself to natural light during the day – which brings us to our next tip. Try and get outside as much as possible!

Get Outside

Getting outside is one of the best natural remedies for better sleep. Our internal body clocks are linked to daylight and we’ve relied on it for thousands of years to tell us when to wake up and when to go to bed.

To feel more awake in the morning, expose yourself to bright sunshine if possible. Open your blinds in the morning and let the daylight in. The light will help your body wake up. Plus it’s a great way to start a beautiful day!

During the day, try and get outside for some fresh air. Go for a short walk during lunch, or step outside for short breaks. If you can, move your workspace close to a natural light source.

Going outside will not only help your sleep, but it can also improve your mood. Win-win!

Create A Sleep Friendly Environment

Now, this is the fun bit. To help you sleep better, it helps to create a sleep-friendly space. Think of your bedroom as a calm, quiet oasis. You’ll want it to be comfortable, dark, and cool. Anyone else starting to feel sleepy?

Comfort is Key

Do you like soft pillows? A firm mattress? A down duvet? A beautiful space? Whatever you need to feel comfortable, make sure your bed is the one place you can’t wait to climb into at night.

Limit Light Exposure

Enact a device ban before getting into bed. With most of us completely addicted to our phones, this is can be difficult! Though phones, iPads, laptops, and TVs are all blue light culprits, and this light is the worst for throwing off your circadian rhythm. Blue light can prevent or slow the release of the sleep hormone melatonin which may trick our brains into staying awake longer [2].

Watching a show when you’re in bed can also be disruptive. Many shows are stimulating rather than relaxing and will keep you awake longer. If you are the kind of person that needs to have something playing to fall asleep, try and listen to calming music, play an audiobook, or stream a podcast instead.

As you wind down in the evening, keep the lights dim and allow your brain to start preparing for sleep.

Select the Right Room Temperature

It is suggested that the ideal room temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit [3]. A cooler room will help prepare your body for sleep, as your body temperature naturally decreases to help initiate sleep.

Have a Go-To Wind-Down Routine

Many of us are probably familiar with a racing mind! An overstimulated brain can cause stress and anxiety which in turn can disrupt sleep.

For a better night’s sleep, it helps to have a go-to wind-down routine. This is all about relaxing which is something we’re definitely on board with!

Everyone is different, and something that may relax one person may not work for another. Find the one thing that works for you and try and follow the routine every evening before you get into bed. Here are a few of our favorite wind-down routines:

  • Meditating

Meditation has numerous benefits. It can help quiet your mind, improve your mood, and even improve your overall health. Meditating in the evening can help you have a more restful night’s sleep by helping you clear your mind. Meditation allows you to be less in your head and focused on the present moment.

Most of us are so busy during the day that we barely have a moment to stop and think. This can change around bedtime when all of a sudden we have a moment. Cue the thought floodgates!

Meditation can help you let go of the day and help you process anything you may be feeling. It can also create physiological changes such as slowing your pulse, lowering your blood pressure, and decreasing stress hormones [4]. There are many techniques you can try, such as mindfulness meditation or guided meditation.

  • Deep breathing exercises

Deep breathing can help your mind and body relax. There are numerous techniques you can try, but the focus is all on controlling your breath and calming your mind. Choose a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat this as many times as you like until you start to feel calm and relaxed. You can use deep breathing exercises with a meditation exercise or bedtime yoga.

  • Bedtime yoga

Bedtime yoga is a gentle way to wind down. Yoga Nidra practice allows your body to deeply relax and your mind to quiet down. The best news? Almost anyone can do Yoga Nidra! All your body needs to do is lie on the floor. Easy.

Start by laying on the floor in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. At this point, you can start your body scan. Move your awareness through your body. Start at your feet. Observe any sensations you feel and take note. If you feel pain, acknowledge it and breath through it. Start gradually moving through your body, from your feet to the top of your head. This practice can help you release any tension and relax. To learn more about Yoga Nidra, check out this article in Yoga Journal.

Exercise during the day

When you’re tired, exercise may sound like the last thing you want to do! Though engaging even in a small amount of exercise during the day can help you sleep better.

Exercise is one of the best natural medicines. According to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine, “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality”.

According to recent studies, adults who did four months of aerobic exercise training had significantly improved sleep quality along with reduced daytime sleepiness and depressive symptoms. [5]

Any type of movement is good for your mind, body, and sleep. But by doing thirty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise you could fall asleep more easily that night.

It is important to note that exercising late at night could cause you to stay awake. Aerobic exercise causes the body to release endorphins, which can create a level of activity in the brain that may keep you awake. Listen to your body, but it is recommended to avoid exercise at least one to two hours before bed.

If you want to fall asleep faster and feel more rested, it is important to get moving!

Stick to a Healthy Diet

Can you improve your sleep through diet? The answer is a resounding yes! What you eat and drink has more of an effect on your sleep than you may think. Your body is a well-functioning machine and what you fuel it with has a big impact on your physical, mental, and yes, sleep health.

Healthy eating leads to better sleeping

A balanced diet can help you fall asleep faster and longer. Build a diet that is high in fiber, low in added sugars, and high in vitamins and minerals. This includes lots of vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruit, fish, and lean protein. Some studies have shown that foods high in B vitamins, such as whole grains and fish, can help increase melatonin production [6].

Avoid sleep inhibiting foods and drinks

Caffeine

How many of us reach for that cup of coffee or tea in the morning? A dose of caffeine makes us feel more awake by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production [1]. While a moderate amount of caffeine is safe to consume, too much caffeine in your diet can cause sleep problems. Remember, caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours! [7]

Caffeine isn’t just in your favorite beverage – it can also be hidden in your breakfast cereal, chocolate, ice cream, and even some medications. It is important to check the labels.

If you are hoping for a better night’s sleep, it is best to limit the amount of caffeine you consume throughout the day and to avoid it in the evening.

Alcohol

It may be tempting to reach for that glass of red wine before bed, but alcohol can inhibit sleep. You may fall asleep quickly, but its side effects will reduce rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. [8] REM sleep is also known as restorative sleep, and disruptions could cause daytime drowsiness and poor concentration.

Spicy Foods

Eating spicy foods before bed could cause heartburn. And heartburn is made worse when you’re laying down. If you’re someone with a sensitivity to spicy foods, it is best to avoid them in the evening.

Foods high in fat and sugar

Foods high in fat and sugar have been linked to poor sleep. They may cause you to wake up during the night and not feel as rested in the morning.

At the End of the Day

Overhauling your daily routine can massively help your nighttime one. Remember, it’s never too late to regain control and sleep better. Though it can take some time to establish a new routine. Take it day by day, and try not to get frustrated if you don’t see immediate results.

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