As someone who has struggled with sleep issues in the past, I know firsthand how stressful it can be when you’re just not sleeping well. Not only does a good nights sleep help you feel rested and refreshed in the morning, but it also has numerous health benefits, including a stronger immune system and a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Here are some tips that have helped me get a good night’s sleep:
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule
If you’re struggling with sleep it can help to try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day, even on weekends. This regulates your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, also known as your circadian rhythm. It’s a difficult thing to keep going with, and you don’t have to be really strict about it but plus or minus 30 minutes works well.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine
To wind down before bed, try taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
A relaxing bedtime routine is a series of activities that you do before going to bed to help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. The goal of a bedtime routine is to create a sense of calm and relaxation that makes it easier for you to fall asleep. Here are a few steps you can follow to create your own relaxing bedtime routine:
- Choose activities that help you relax: Different activities will work for different people, so experiment to find out what works best for you. Some ideas might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, or listening to calming music.
- Set aside a consistent amount of time for your bedtime routine: A bedtime routine doesn’t have to be long – even just 15-20 minutes can be enough to help you wind down. Decide how much time you want to set aside for your bedtime routine, and try to stick to the same amount of time each night.
- Create a soothing atmosphere: The atmosphere in your bedroom can also play a role in helping you relax. Dim the lights, light some candles or use a low wattage bulb, and make sure the room is comfortable in terms of temperature and noise level.
- Avoid screens and other distractions: The blue light emitted by screens (such as TVs, laptops, and phones) can suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bed, and remove other distractions like clutter and electronics from your bedroom.
By following these steps and incorporating activities that help you relax, you can create a relaxing bedtime routine that sets the stage for a good night’s sleep.
Make your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment
Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. It’s also a good idea to remove distractions like TVs, laptops, and phones from the bedroom. Set up your device charger someplace else – like the kitchen, so you’ll be forced to leave your phone outside your bedroom.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bed
It is important to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bed for several reasons:
- Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with your sleep. It is found in many common beverages and foods, including coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and some medications. Consuming caffeine within 4-6 hours of bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Alcohol is also a stimulant that can disrupt your sleep. While it may make you feel drowsy at first, it can interfere with the quality of your sleep and cause you to wake up more frequently during the night.
- Large meals can cause discomfort and indigestion, which can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Eating a large meal close to bedtime can also cause your body to work harder to digest the food, which can make you feel more awake.
By avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bedtime, you can help improve the quality of your sleep and wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
Exercise during the day
Exercise has been shown to have a number of benefits for sleep. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake up feeling more refreshed. Here are a few ways in which exercise can help you sleep better:
- Exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety: Physical activity has been shown to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, which can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Exercise can improve the quality of your sleep: Regular exercise has been linked to deeper, more restful sleep. In one study, people who exercised regularly reported feeling more alert and having more energy during the day, and they also slept better at night.
- Exercise can regulate your sleep-wake cycle: Physical activity can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, also known as your circadian rhythm. This can make it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up feeling rested in the morning.
That being said, it’s important to remember that the timing of your exercise can also affect your sleep. It’s generally best to avoid vigorous exercise right before bed as it can energize you, making it harder to fall asleep. Instead, try to finish your workout a few hours before bedtime to give your body time to wind down.
Don’t spend too much time in bed awake
If you can’t fall asleep after 20-30 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity in a low-light environment until you feel tired again. This helps to associate your bed with sleep, rather than frustration and wakefulness.
Consider using relaxation techniques
There are a number of relaxation techniques that can help you fall asleep and get a better night’s rest. Here are a few examples:
- Deep breathing: Deep breathing involves taking slow, controlled breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This can help calm your mind and relax your body, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body, starting with your feet and working your way up to your head. This can help release tension and promote relaxation.
- Guided imagery: Guided imagery involves using your imagination to visualize a peaceful, relaxing scene. This can help distract your mind from racing thoughts and help you relax.
- Meditation: Meditation involves focusing your attention on a particular object, thought, or activity to train your mind to be more present and calm. This can help reduce stress and improve sleep.
- Yoga: Yoga involves a series of physical postures and breathing techniques that can help relax the mind and body. There are many different yoga poses that can be helpful for sleep, such as child’s pose, corpse pose, and legs up the wall.
By incorporating relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine, you can help your mind and body relax and prepare for sleep. It may take some experimentation to find out which techniques work best for you, so don’t be afraid to try a few different ones until you find what works.
Try a white noise machine or earplugs
If noise is keeping you awake, consider using a white noise machine or earplugs to help block out distractions.
Check with your doctor
If you’re having ongoing difficulty sleeping, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can help rule out any underlying medical conditions and suggest additional treatment options if needed.
In conclusion, getting a good night’s sleep is important for both your physical and mental well-being. By following a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and making your bedroom a sleep-friendly environment, you can improve your chances of falling asleep and waking up feeling rested and refreshed. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor for help if you’re struggling with sleep issues.
Lauren Gamble is an author, mompreneur, co-founder of Naturally Made Essentials. She is on a mission to help thousands of women across the world achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle through teaching natural health practices.