Creating good sleeping habits is crucial when trying to maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle. In fact, missing 1 or 2 hours of sleep alone, can affect your performance, physical health, and brain function. Missing sleep lowers your immune system, hinders your learning, and slows you down. Good sleep, on the other hand, allow our bodies to recharge, heal, and conquer the next day with the same intensity as the day before.
A 2013 Gallup survey revealed that less than 40% of Americans get the recommended amount of sleep – 7 to 9 hours – every day. On average, Americans get 6.8 hours of sleep every night. This shouldn’t surprise us. There are more distractions today than ever before, and I expect the amount will only grow in the future. Which is why, if we ever plan on living a holistically balanced lifestyle, we have to come up with strategies to combat sleep deprivation. Below are a few tips to get you started.
Sleep at The Same Time
Developing a consistent sleeping schedule is the backbone of healthy sleeping habits. Your body, believe it or not, likes consistency. Having a set bedtime and wake-up time gets your body into a rhythm of sorts. After a couple of weeks, your body will be ready to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Initially, building the habit might be a little difficult. Shoot, I have a hard enough time convincing myself that I should go to sleep, especially when I haven’t finished everything I want to do. Honestly, sometimes I cheat and stay up late. However, I always regret staying up late. Whereas I’ve never regretted going to sleep at a reasonable time and waking up when I’m supposed too. Be consistent, your body will thank you.
-Pick a bedtime, and wake time that allows for 7-9 hours of sleep.
-Stick to the schedule, even on weekends. The more consistent you are the better you will feel.
-Cheating once in a while is ok, but always revert back to your schedule.
Don’t Eat Before Bed
The point of going to sleep is so that your body rests. Which doesn’t happen if we eat before bed. Eating before bed means our digestive system has to work through the night, and might actually disturb our sleeping patterns. We can also experience heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion if we go to sleep on a full stomach.
-Eat your last meal 3 hours before heading to bed.
-Make yourself some tea after your meal, or consume some diluted apple cider vinegar to help your digestion.
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We’ve all heard that having a morning routine improves your productively. It allows you to get a good start on your day. Having a bedtime routine is just as important. Your bedtime routine, if done consistently, will cue your body to prepare itself for sleep. Allowing you to go to sleep much quicker, and more relaxed.
-Stop any type of work an hour before bed.
-Allow your body and mind to relax.
-Take a warm shower
Dim the Lights
As you begin to wind down, start turning off or dimming the lights around your home. Bright light, whether its sunlight or artificial light makes us more alert – this includes cell phones, TV’s, and tablets. Darkness or dim lights stimulate the production of melatonin. This results in drowsiness, which ultimately helps you get to sleep quicker.
-An hour before bed, start dimming lights in areas you’re hanging out in.
-Turn off lights in areas you’re not in.
-Use small lamps, or night lights for a dimming effect if dimming lights are not available.
-Avoid watching TV, or staring at any of your mobile devices.
Listen to Relaxing Music
According to research, listening to relatively slow beat music can aid your body in going to sleep quicker. Some studies suggest listening to classical music 45 minutes before bed. Personally, I like to log on to Spotify and listen to a few of my favorite relaxing playlists. A few of them include Sleep, Peaceful Guitar, Peaceful Piano, Night Rain, Nightstorms, and Hawaiian Dreams – just a few.
-During the hour you wind down, play some relaxing music. Spotify is my go too, but I suppose any other will do as well.
-Make sure you don’t raise the volume too high. If the music is too loud, it might create the opposite effect. You want subtle background music.
You’ve probably heard this one way too many times, but it works – so I’ll say it again. Reading is an excellent way to calm your mind down as you get ready to sleep. The faster you can de-stress, the faster you’ll fall asleep. Picking up a book before bed allows you to let go of any thoughts running through your mind hindering sleep.
-Pick a book you like and settle down in a comfy place.
-Pick a well-lit place where you can read, or use a reading light. But keep everything else dimmed.
Exercise is a great way to burn off stress and extra energy. This, in turn, helps you get better sleep. However, exercising too close to your bedtime is a bad idea. Exercise has an alerting effect, and if done less than 3 hours before bed, it can make it difficult for you to get to sleep when you’re supposed too.
-Workout early in the morning, or earlier in the evening.
-Create a workout schedule that avoids exercise less than 3 hours before bedtime.
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When you are headed to sleep, your bodies temperature set point goes down. This mild drop in temperature induces sleep. Being in a cooler environment helps this happen. Warmer environments are usually more difficult to fall asleep in.
-Place your rooms thermostat at 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit
-Grab a heavy bed cover- It soothes your body.