If there is one thing most of us need more of, it’s sleep.
Hit the gym and drink all the green smoothies you want, but without adequate sleep, your physical and mental health will suffer.
Sleep is crucial to repair your body’s damaged cells, boost your immunity, and maintain a healthy weight. Without enough rest, you put yourself at greater risk for feelings of depression and loneliness. Your concentration will plummet, your gut health may decline as a result of increased inflammation, and you become more susceptible to all sorts of diseases.
Basically, hit the hay if you don’t want to kick the bucket.
Okay, that might be a tad dramatic, but there is no question that sleep should be a priority in all of our lives. However, getting enough quality sleep can be a challenge, even if you put forth the effort (cue the nights of tossing and turning until the early A.M.). Today, I’m sharing 5 ways to set yourself up for a better night’s sleep!
1. BE CONSISTENT
I often find myself going to bed at 10 p.m. one night and midnight the next. It can be hard to stick to a regimented routine when life gets hectic.
Nevertheless, following a sleeping schedule can improve the quality of your sleep dramatically. Your circadian rhythm (aka your “internal body clock”) relies on consistency, so going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will align your body to these rhythms.
Choose a bedtime that will allow at least 7-8 hours of sleep. If this requires going to bed much earlier than you are used to, you may find it difficult to doze off in a reasonable amount of time. In this case, begin with setting a consistent waking time. Waking up at the same time every day will build your drive to sleep later.
2. EXERCISE STRATEGICALLY
If you remain sedentary all day, you are setting yourself up for a restless night. Collapsing on your bed sounds very appealing when you’ve burned off some energy…not as much when you’ve already been lounging around for a while.
Getting in as little as 20 minutes of movement per day can increase the duration of your sleep. The effect of the intensity and timing on sleeping patterns will differ from person to person. For some, exercising at night may be too invigorating. For others, it may exhaust them so much that they’ll be out the second their heads hit their pillows. No matter the timing, make sure you actually enjoy the exercise— dreading your workout will only promote stress!
Experiment with different workouts at varying times and log your sleeping habits. You will learn what works best for you!
3. UNLOAD YOUR BRAIN
Whether I am mentally sifting through my to-do list, reflecting on conversations from the day, or fantasizing about the events of tomorrow…my mind is always moving at a million miles a minute. Somehow, the stillness of the night seems to speed it up even more.
Not only is journaling a great form of self-care, but doing so before bedtime allows me to flush out my thoughts and declutter my headspace. Dozing off is nearly impossible when your brain won’t shut off, but a clear mind will allow you to fall asleep with ease.
4. ESTABLISH A WIND-DOWN ROUTINE
Just like a consistent bedtime will help you fall asleep faster, a nighttime routine will wind you down and prepare your body for rest. This routine should not include your phone, computer, or TV. Don’t get me wrong, I am very guilty of scrolling through Instagram, typing up a blog post, or finishing an episode of The Bachelor minutes before hitting the sack. But if you are having trouble snoozing, electronics could be the culprit.
There’s plenty of evidence that the blue light emitted by devices suppresses our melatonin production, thus messing with our ability to sleep. Beyond the science, though, technology is simply distracting. You may decide to check social media for just a minute before bed, but then a minute becomes 15…and 15 minutes becomes an hour…you see where this is going.
End your night with some (electronic-free) stress-relieving rituals. Follow an evening skincare routine, sip on a cup of tea, or do some light reading to relax.
5. CREATE A SLEEP-FRIENDLY SPACE
“You are either in your bed or in your shoes, so it pays to invest in both.” -John Wildsmith
A sleep-friendly space begins with a high-quality mattress and bedding. Mattresses and accessories can add up in price, but if you are lacking comfort while sleeping, it is well worth the investment.
Additionally, keep your space dark, cool, and quiet. Artificial light will mimic daylight, making it a challenge to fall asleep. Shut your curtains, unplug any night-lights, and power down the electronics. Your body temperature drops as it prepares for rest, so keeping your space cool will aid in that process. Noise is obviously very distracting when trying to sleep, but some sounds are beyond your control (traffic, noisy neighbors, loud roommates…). If this is the problem, a soothing sound machine or the hum of a fan could do the trick.
A blissful slumber will boost your well-being and energy, allowing you to be fully present and enjoy each day in its entirety. I hope you found this post helpful! How do you set yourself up for a better night’s sleep?