I value sleep very highly and my whole day is affected when I am not well rested. The benefits of sleep are endless, including improved brain function, hormone levels and exercise performance. Without a good night’s sleep, it is impossible to expect that you will be as productive as you could be. I’ve found that I’ve been far more restless than usual with it being winter, because I am not nearly as active as I normally am, so I have some tips to regain that deep sleep that everyone dreams of (pun intended)!
Avoid Blue Light
If you can help it, stay away from screens for an hour before going to bed. Blue light suppresses melatonin (a hormone that promotes sleep) secretion which in turn makes it much harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you aren’t able to be away from your device before bed, you can invest in a pair of blue light glasses which block the blue light from your eyes and can be found for as low as $20 on amazon. Do yourself a favor and swap your routine of tik tok or youtube before bed with reading or self care.
Limit Caffeine Intake, Especially in the Evening
This one kind of goes without saying, but caffeine enhances your energy and focus and can prevent you from relaxing at night. If you enjoy a hot drink at night, you can always use decaffeinated coffee or tea as a replacement. If you drink caffeine in the evening because you lack energy or want to stay up later, a great way to pick yourself up is doing a quick exercise (even if it’s just 10 jumping jacks) or eating more whole foods that are low in sugar because they won’t lead to a sudden crash or drop in energy.
Reduce Daytime Naps
I enjoy indulging in daytime naps as much as the next, and sometimes they are very beneficial for getting through the day, but they can be harmful as well. Sleeping during the day can confuse your body and give you too much energy to fall asleep again. In some situations though, taking long naps can leave you feeling even more tired deeming the whole process useless. If you feel fatigued during the day or in between activities, I suggest taking a power nap for 30 minutes or less to get the fuel you need to function. There’s no reason to feel shame for taking long naps though, whether they are on purpose or not, it happens to everybody!
I take pride in being able to fall asleep absolutely anywhere when I am tired enough, but sometimes my environment plays a larger role in my ability to rest. If you can, try to reduce all external noises whether this be shutting your door or playing a white noise machine to block out other sounds, it is helpful to get rid of outside clamor that will distract you from sleep. I find that if I can see that my room is messy from where I lay in bed, I sometimes become stressed and have a harder time falling asleep. Having a clean space creates a more relaxed environment that will be more conducive to sleep. Also, reducing artificial light that could be coming from an alarm clock or hall light can take strain away from your eyes and get you to bed quicker.
Relax Before Bed
Whether it be through meditation, doing a face mask or reading a book, it is always helpful to take a few moments to relax before going to bed. It can be incredibly difficult to fall asleep when you have a lot on your mind or haven’t had the chance to wind down from your day, so taking this time for yourself can greatly enhance your quality of sleep. I love to use the Calm app for meditation and breathing exercises. If you are looking for a book to read see for a book suggestion and my opinions on it!
Don’t Eat Too Late
The later you eat, the less prepared your body is for sleep because your natural release of melatonin is disrupted. On top of that, it is never good to lay down right after you eat because it allows stomach acid to rise to your esophagus which in turn can increase heartburn and indigestion. This can be disruptive to sleep and is not the most comfortable feeling.
Moving your body for even 30 minutes can get rid of the extra bit of energy that would otherwise be keeping you up at night. Exercise can help with the release of endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel happy, and this boost of happiness has actually proven to benefit sleep. With this in mind, exercise is not always beneficial if it is performed late at night. Exercise releases adrenaline which improves alertness, making it harder to fall asleep in a timely manner.
These are some tricks that have improved my sleep, but do whatever works best for you! Everyone is different and no one trick will be perfect and applicable to all. I hope this helps!