Catching adequate ZZZZ’s every night is important for overall health. Studies show that a good night’s sleep can improve your mood, help you eat less and even exercise better. On the other hand, poor sleep has been shown to have a negative effect on hormone balance and brain function. I am sure we have all had days where we didn’t sleep well and it led us to be crabby and eat sugary treats to keep us going throughout the day.
Sure, we know we need quality sleep but how do we get it? If you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep you are not alone. Sleeping issues have been on the rise over recent years. Let’s look at ways you can improve your sleep so you can wake up feeling your best!
Routines are helpful for many aspects of life and that includes sleep. Create a relaxing and cozy sleep routine lets your body and mind know it’s time to wind down time. Decide what time you want to be in bed and build your schedule in reverse. Then you know what time you need to start your bedtime practice. What does a routine look like? Play around to see what works for you. A warm bath or shower, reading a book, an evening meditation and a cup of sleepy-time tea are all wonderful options.
An overactive mind is a common reason sleep gets disrupted. Preparing for the next day, or even for the week, will make for a smoother day when you wake. Know what you're going to eat for breakfast (and have it prepped if possible), have your lunch prepped (and portioned out if you're leaving home), and review the next day's schedule before bed. Having the next day set up will not only make for a smoother day but will also lead to a calm mind as you won’t be thinking of everything you need to do the next day.
Pay Attention to Light Exposure
The body has a natural clock known as a circadian rhythm. This internal time-keeper affects your brain, body, and hormones. It also helps you stay awake and tells your body when it’s time to sleep. Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.
Just as natural light plays a role in our sleep so does blue light from electronics, especially at night. Light exposure in the evening tricks your circadian rhythm into thinking it’s still daytime, therefore it wants to stay awake. Limiting electronics two hours before bed is ideal but if that feels challenging, start with one hour of no TV, phones, laptops or tablets before bedtime. Find an alternative like an actual book or listen to a meditation or audiobook.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Starting your day with a cup of coffee or tea may be part of your daily routine. However, drinking caffeine late in the day can keep you up in the evenings. Caffeine can stay elevated in the blood for 6-8 hours which means that drinking that cup of coffee after 3:00 pm can prevent you from sleeping easy. If you must have a cup of coffee in the afternoon, opt for decaf.
Consuming alcohol, especially in the evenings, is also known to disrupt sleep. Alcohol is known to increase symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns. It also slows the production of melatonin (a sleep hormone) and gives your liver more work to do (which can wake you up in the middle of the night).
Don’t Overeat or Go to Bed Hungry
Eating a large meal prompts your body’s digestive system to kick into gear which can leave you wide awake. Not to mention, if you overeat you will feel uncomfortable. It is recommended to stop eating about three hours before going to bed. This gives your body a chance to finish digesting dinner before your head hits the pillow. Also, skipping dinner is not a good idea. Not only could the sounds of your growling tummy keep you awake, but that hunger pain can make it hard to fall asleep as well, and possibly wake you up due to low blood sugar once you do fall asleep.
Sleep is an important factor in our overall health. Many of us struggle with getting enough of it. To support your overall well-being, make sleep a priority and try incorporating some of these ideas into your day and evening. If you are looking for even more support, schedule a free consultation with me to see how we can create the perfect sleep plan for you!