We’ve all been there. Tossing and turning, eyes wide open, constantly starting at the clock counting down the hours till your alarm goes off, wishing you could just doze off into a blissful, peaceful sleep. You employ every trick in the books; count sheep, recall your day hour by hour, run through situations in your head that will probably never happen, but none of it works. Eventually you wake up in the morning feeling hazy, clouded, and far from refreshed. Not getting a good night’s rest can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, weight gain, and diabetes among others. The good news is, there are measure you can take to ensure you rest well, and lead a more productive and healthier lifestyle.
1. Stick To a Regular Sleeping Pattern
Our bodies love routine. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning will help you set your internal biological clock. Try to keep a regular bedtime (within 15 minutes) and wake up time on a daily basis. Soon enough, your body will naturally start to feel tired at that time of night and naturally wake up just prior to your alarm going off. Once you disrupt your sleep cycle, it can take several days for your body to get back on track.
2. Disconnect At Least One Hour Before Bed
From everything. Your smartphone, tablet, laptop, tv, smartwatch, computer, VR headset, game console…anything I’ve missed? This is critical for a proper rest. The blue light from your devices blocks melatonin production, leading to a poor night’s sleep. Turn your devices on do not disturb while you sleep so they don’t light up throughout the night and keep your electronics far away from your bed. Blue wavelengths boost attention, reaction times, and mood, but they are the most disruptive at night, even without you noticing them, according to the Harvard Medical School.
3. Limit Caffeine, Alcohol, and Other Beverages
It’s difficult to say how long before going to sleep should you stop drinking caffeine because it affects everyone differently, but it’s something everyone should experiment with. If you have trouble sleeping one night, take a mental note of when your last cup of joe was. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to avoid caffeine 4-5 hours before bedtime. A glass of wine before bed may initially produce drowsiness but after a few hours it disrupts sleep cycle and may prevent deep REM. It also may be smart to avoid drinking other beverages, because, you know, there’s nothing worse than your body waking you up to send you to the washroom in the middle of the night.
Yep, read. Before bed, in the morning, on the bus…reading is good for you! And it’s especially helpful when trying to fall asleep. Reading a book will help you feel calm, take your mind off of the hectic day you just had and relieve tension. Don’t use your tablet to read (see number 2 for why), pick up a physical copy of the latest bestseller. A couple pages in and you’ll notice your eyes starting to feel heavy and head bobbing back and forth. Added bonus: reading has a ton of other health benefits!
5. Stay Active During the Day
Break up your day by stepping outside and getting some natural light whenever possible. Natural daylight stimulates the body’s production of melatonin. This substance helps promote sleep and also acts as a preventative factor in the development of breast cancer. Be productive during the day, work hard, and get plenty of exercise. When put on your PJs at night and jump in bed, you’ll feel tired but accomplished and you’ll be out like a lamp.
6. Avoid Long Naps
Sure the trusted 20 minute power nap can always be counted on to give you that extra boost you need throughout the day. But even short naps tend to severely disrupt your sleep cycle and can be enough to keep you up all night. If must nap, try to keep it under 20 minutes and do so before 5pm, otherwise you’ll have difficulty getting sleep at bedtime.
Bonus Tip: Buy Amazing Bed Sheets
Really. An investment into a high quality pair of bedsheets will make all the difference in your sleep quality. You spend a third of your life sleeping, might as well make sure you fall into the most comfortable bed sheets when your tired body hits the sac at night. Once you try our premium, eco friendly, bamboo bed sheets, you won’t know how you ever slept without them!