It seems like it should be easy. Our bodies and minds require sleep, so it should just happen naturally, right? But for many, tossing and turning, lying awake for hours staring at the ceiling, and overall struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep is a nightly reality. So here’s my 5 tips to get a better night’s sleep.
STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep, but many of us get far less than that and then try to “catch up” on the weekends; but that’s not really how the body works. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day makes it much easier for your body to maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. It may take some time to get used to, but setting yourself a consistent bedtime and waking at around the same time every single day (yes, even on weekends) will lead to better rest during seep, which ultimately leads to feeling better throughout the day.
CREATE A ROUTINE
As part of that consistent bedtime and wake time, having a routine around each helps to reinforce to your brain what it needs to prepare for. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out event if you don’t consistently have the time; even just 5 or 10 minutes of some sort of routine that works for you will do the job. For your bedtime routine, this could include laying out your clothes for the next day, dimming the lights, reading a few pages of a good book, taking a warm bath, listening to your favorite relaxing music, meditating, or anything else that prepares your body and mind to calm down. For your waking routine, it could include some light stretching, brushing your teeth, drinking a big glass of water, taking a short walk, meditating, listening to some upbeat tunes, or anything else that signals your body and mind to get ready for the day ahead. After implementing these routines for a while, you’ll notice that your body moves into that sleep or wake mode much faster and easier.
TURN OFF THE TECH
Many of us are glued to our phones up until we close our eyes for the night, but that may also be a big reason we struggle to fall asleep. Our natural circadian rhythm, our sleep-wake cycle, is greatly influenced by light. We are meant to wake with the sunrise and go to sleep at sunset. So keeping bright lights on, especially right in front of our faces with our phones or TVs, throws this schedule off completely. Try turning off all tech no less than 30 minute before you need to go to sleep and start that bedtime routine I mentioned above.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine at some point in your daily schedule will help to improve your sleep quality, and potentially help you fall asleep faster. While it used to be thought that intense exercise within a few hours of bedtime was a definite no-no for everyone, but it seems that may not be true. For some, it may actually be helpful to workout in the evening, while others may be too revved up to fall asleep so a morning or early afternoon workout is best. Try both and see what seems to be best for your body and your schedule.
KEEP STRESS AT BAY
It goes without saying that stress plays a major role in our quality of sleep. For many, that means lying awake for hours unable to “shut off” our brains and just let go. Regularly incorporating stress-management and self-care techniques such as meditation, massage therapy, and exercise can greatly improve stress levels. While they won’t solve all your problems and stop all stresses from happening, they do help you better manage the stresses that life throws at you, whether small daily worries or life-changing events.