Sleep. It's so natural that we do it every night. It's so essential to our biology that we could not live without it. It's such a big part of our lives that we devote almost a third of our time to it. And yet, so many of us struggle to get a good night's sleep. Sleep First has made improving people's sleep our business, so we know there are lots of things that can get in the way of a quality snooze.
Don't lose hope yet because Sleep First is here to help you fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and wake up feeling rested, refreshed, and renewed! There are many simple, effective changes you can make to improve your sleep, starting tonight. Here are 8 simple tips you can use throughout your day -- and right before bed -- to get the best night of sleep you possibly can.
- Ditch the blue light. There's increasingly more research that suggests our technology habits are at least partially to blame for our sleep woes: blue light emitted by phones, computers, and other electronic devices, as well as energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs, have been shown to inhibit our melatonin secretion, and therefore delay and disrupt sleep. To remedy this, try removing all electronics and LED lights from your bedroom, and shutting off all electronics 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime.
- Create (and stick to) a bedtime routine. Think of your circadian rhythm (the chain of chemical processes in your body that control your sleep-wake cycle) like a pet dog. With enough time and repetition, you can train it. Choose a soothing activity, and do it around the same time each night. Some things to try out could be listening to relaxing music, drinking a cup of chamomile tea, reading a book, journaling, or taking a warm bath or shower. You could also try gentle yoga or meditation, both of which have been shown to calm the mind and switch the body into resting mode. Over time, your body will come to associate these activities with sleep.
- Optimize your bedroom for sleep. Improving your sleep can be as simple as making a few tweaks to your bedroom. To create an environment conducive to quality rest, choose comfortable and breathable bedding (natural fibers like cotton and bamboo are excellent choices), keep the temperature between 68 and 72 degrees, and block out disruptive sounds with an ambient or white noise machine. It's also best to get your room as dark as possible, covering any bright alarm clocks, installing black-out curtains, or even wearing a sleep mask.
- If you're having trouble falling asleep after 30 minutes of trying, get out of bed. Now, while this tip sounds counterintuitive at first, it's actually highly effective. Staying in bed stressing about how you aren't asleep causes your anxiety levels to rise, which makes it even harder to drift off to sleep. If that becomes a habit then over time, your brain will start to associate your bed with stress. Instead, try getting out of bed and stretching or reading a book until you start to get sleepy.
- Be mindful about your evening beverages. Okay, you might not like this one, but it's highly effective. For most people, drinking caffeine past noon or alcohol past 8pm can disrupt sleep. That doesn't mean you have to cut them out completely! You can see results by keeping your coffee drinking to the am and your glass of wine earlier in the evening. Some good alternatives, some of which can actually help your sleep, are herbal tea (chamomile and lavender especially), warm coconut milk (add honey and spices like turmeric to make it even better), or even just plain water.
- Pay attention to your daytime habits. How you spend your day can actually have an enormous impact on how you spend your night. By eating a healthy diet with a good balance of fat, protein, and carbs, getting vigorous exercise earlier in the day, and keeping your stress levels low, you can set yourself up for a night of quality Zzzs. Also, getting at least 15 minutes of direct sun exposure helps to optimize your circadian rhythm (remember, that’s your body’s chain of chemical processes that control your sleep-wake cycle) and get better, deeper sleep.
- Wake up the right way. Remember what we said earlier about your sleeping habits being like a dog? That applies to your mornings, too. It’s important to wake up around the same time each day in order to keep your body on a regular schedule. Try to avoid snoozing your alarm. And try to plan at least one thing to look forward to each morning, whether that’s a delicious cup of coffee or listening to a song you love, so that you don’t start your day in a state of stress (it will make all the difference in the world later at night).
- Get a new mattress. If your mattress is old or uncomfortable, it can be a lot harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, and the sleep you do manage to get is more likely to be of poor quality. It's important to check in with the state of your mattress on a regular basis to see if it's supporting you, or working against you. Additionally, sometimes we forget that we too change, and as we do, our ideal mattress changes with us. If you’re finding that you’re just not comfortable anymore, or are not getting the best sleep you can, it might be time to reevaluate. If you find that you do need a new mattress, visit one ofSleep First’s locations, where our sleep experts will be glad to talk through your needs and guide you towards the best mattress for you.
Getting good quality sleep is vital for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Try these tips to get the best sleep tonight. If you find you're still having trouble after trying out these tips, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about potential undiagnosed sleep disorders. Because sleep? It’s everything.