Sleep is so important, and it seems these days we simply do not get enough of it. Many people get in the cycle of "just getting by" and then waking up feeling unrested only to drink soda and coffee all day long "in order to function." One of the (many) issues with that is drinking caffeine all day long will also impact your sleep!
When we do not get enough sleep, it can have a major ripple effect. It's difficult to reach our dreams and live to our full potential if we often tired -- and therefore unmotivated -- to take consistent action. Besides motivation, lack of proper, restful sleep can lead to lack of focus and alertness, irritability (and therefore poor communication which can lead to arguments), poor work quality, impaired memory, weight gain, increased risk for chronic conditions and more! What is enough sleep you may ask? It varies, but generally experts say to aim for 7-8 hours per night for adults.
The following are ten ways to help you get a better night's sleep:
1. Develop a routine before bed. A routine sends signals to the body that you are winding down for sleep. Unplug, relax, take a warm bath with soothing bath salts, use your favorite lotion, read a book (although not too thought provoking or violent), or listen to soothing musicor a guided relaxation recording. Dim the lights while you're getting ready for bed.
2. Block out as much light as possible. Even dim lights can affect your melatonin level. If you get up in the middle of the night, do not turn on a bright light. If your alarm clock is bright, cover it or turn it so it is not pointing directly at you. Use heavy curtains on the windows. You can also consider wearing a sleep mask if it is difficult to block out light in the room.
3. Use your bed for sleep only. Use your bedroom as a sanctuary and create a relaxing atmosphere. Use calming colors. This is your sanctuary; keep your work and bills in a different room.
4. Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning, no matter what day of the week it is. This helps with circadian rhythm.
5. Do some relaxation stretches, such as forward bends before bed. Avoid strenuous or heavy exercise before bed.
6. Avoid caffeine after noon. Replace afternoon coffee with caffeine-free tea. Studies show that caffeine can remain in your system up to 12 hours. Also avoid heavy meals and sweets before bed.
7. Adjust the temperature in the room. Sleeping with the air temperature set a couple of degrees cooler is often helpful.
8. If you find your mind wandering, turn your attention to your breathing. Each time you exhale, consciously relax your shoulders and your muscles, making sure you relax the muscles in your face. Some people find it effective to focus on a word while inhaling and exhaling in order to quiet the mind. Another technique for wandering thoughts is to keep a small notebook at bedside to jot down any thoughts that may arise -- that way you know you can reserve a different time to deal with them.
9. Use essential oils and aromatherapy to calm your mind. High quality (clinical grade) essential oils can have a profound effect on our psychological and physiological well-being.
10. Get up and do something (such as read a magazine) or move to another location after 20 minutes. If you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back to sleep within 20 minutes, move to the couch, for example. Then return to bed try to fall asleep again. (Or you may quickly fall asleep there!)
These are just some of the many tips you can implement right away.
What have you found helpful when it comes to better sleep? Please share your tips in the comments below!
Note: Keep in mind that inability to sleep (or sleeping too much) can be a sign that something else is going that needs to be dealt with. It's always good to check with your doctor. <3