5 Ways to Get Better Sleep
We all hear a lot about how important sleep is and that we should be getting at least eight hours each night. I am a big fan of sleep myself, and besides trying to get eight or nine hours most nights, I also love to throw in a nap here and there!
But sometimes, getting enough sleep is pretty much impossible; and other times, getting quality sleep can be a challenge. Or maybe you are even someone who can only spare a few hours for sleeping, and then when you get there you have difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Let’s go over a few ways to increase the quality (even if you can’t increase the quantity) of your sleep!
1. Spend Time Outside in the Morning
As funny as it sounds that going outside in the morning can improve your sleep at night, it is actually true!
Natural sunlight affects our bodies’ circadian rhythms and helps us to fall asleep when it is dark and wake when it gets light. When we go outside and expose ourselves to natural light first thing in the morning, we are training our bodies to wake up to light. It is telling us that it is bright outside and time to wake up.
Here are a few ways to get natural sun exposure in the morning without having to add yet another thing to your schedule:
Step outside while you drink your coffee instead of sitting down to do so. You could even make a nice little outdoor area with a comfortable chair and small table and have your coffee and journal there every morning.
Hold off on checking your phone and go outside for a few minutes instead. The phone use can wait - the notifications will still be there, and your body needs natural light more than it needs blue light in the morning!
Do your workout outside. Go for a walk, a run, a hike, a bike ride - anything to get your heart rate up while flooding your body with sunshine!
Eat breakfast outside. Just take your food out there and eat it!
2. Reduce or Eliminate Electronic Device Use for an Hour Before Bedtime.
Just as natural light helps our bodies figure out the healthy wake and sleep cycle, so the opposite is true - blue light from electronics keeps our brains going and working when they should be winding down.
So an hour before bedtime, turn off your devices and do something to relax your mind and body. Reading a book, taking a warm bath, or drinking some tea are a few good ways to do this!
3. Keep Your Electronics in a Different Room
Even if your electronic devices are turned off or on airplane mode, they can still be disruptive to sleep patterns. But if you need to keep your phone in the bedroom, putting it on airplane mode or at least six feet away from your bed will help to protect your brain from the lights and waves that can be harmful.
4. Brain Dump Before Bed
So many people have trouble falling asleep because they can’t turn their minds off and let their thoughts go.
If this is an issue for you, one thing that might help a lot is to keep a notebook and pen right next to your bed. Before you go to sleep, write down everything you can think of that is on your mind. Worries, cares, to-dos, ideas - anything and everything that is keeping your mind busy! Write it down and then let it go! Once it is on paper, it is easier to let yourself stop thinking about it.
If you wake up with a thought and can’t fall back to sleep, write it in the notebook. You can revisit everything in the morning!
5. Don’t Eat for at Least Two Hours Before Bedtime
Our bodies need a break from constantly digesting food to focus instead on rebuilding and repairing. This naturally happens at night when we are sleeping, but if we have just eaten right before bed, the body can’t rest. Instead, it has to digest the meal.
So give your body a break and stop eating two hours before bedtime. Besides sleeping better, chances are you will also feel better in the morning!
6. Keep Your Bedroom Cool
We tend to sleep better when our body temperature is a little lower than normal, so turn down the heat a tad (and maybe open a window) to get the cooler air flowing through the room!
7. Go to Bed and Get Up at the Same Time Every Day
This one is hard! Definitely the one I have the most trouble doing consistently!
Sometimes it is just impossible to go to bed on time, but even if you can’t, still try to get up at the same time. This may mean you only get a few hours of sleep that night. While that is certainly not ideal, it helps keep the body on track and you will be able to fall asleep on time the following night.
Our bodies were made for structure and regularity (although certain types of stress are good for us, too!). They do best when everything is kept on time and in rhythm!
Having regular, consistent sleep times will help the body to naturally fall asleep and wake up with less difficulty.
So there you go! I hope these tips help you get the best sleep possible!