Good sleep is an essential part of our overall well-being and is not something to be taken lightly. The average person spends 26 years of their lives sleeping, and 7 years total attempting to go to sleep (Huffington Post), so a concrete sleep schedule is definitely something you want to make sure is a top priority in your life. Not only do you want to maintain healthy sleeping patterns because you’re sleeping for over a quarter of your life, but it also benefits you immensely (Healthline)! A great nights rest will help you maintain/lose weight, become more productive, gain better concentration, help with your athletic abilities and all around will improve your body externally and internally.
1. Create a Pre-Sleep Routine
Transitioning from wake time to sleep time can be sometimes difficult to do if you have a lot on your mind, or if you’re feeling tense. But, if you make some sort of nightly scheduled routine beforehand it will help this transition go a lot smoother for you. You should give yourself about an hour of downtime before hitting the hay, and this should be something that relaxes you mentally and physically. Some things that you could try out are taking a bath or shower, practicing relaxation exercises, reading, drawing, writing, do some yoga, etc (Healthy Sleep). Just about anything that helps you wind down towards the end of the night is ideal for a routine before bed.
2. Turn off Your Devices
(silverkblack, Adobe Stock)
We all love to scroll our feeds and turn on an addicting television show once we get home and it’s time to unwind, but in reality a lot of us are doing it a little too much. They can be not only toxic for relationships with loved ones, but they also can interfere with a healthy sleep schedule too. The light that comes off of screens can slow down the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that controls your sleep cycle. To prevent technology interfering with your sleep, try and turn off your devices 30 minutes of time so you can transition into sleep mode properly. Another problem with screen time before bed, is that your brain will still be engaged and tricking you into thinking that you need to stay awake. Anything you take away from whatever piece of technology you’re using, it will make it hard for you to fall into a deep sleep (National Sleep Foundation). So next time you feel like browsing Instagram at the late hours of the night, just remember that whatever you’re looking at will be there for you tomorrow when you wake up. No need to do it at such a critical part of your day.
3. Increase Nutrient Intake and Cut Back on Caffeine and Alcohol
What you consume fuels your body, and sometimes we don’t always track what we’re putting into our system, but those types of things can heavily alter how well you sleep. Foods that are high in magnesium and the vitamin B complex are majorly useful sleep aids. For example, halibut, almonds, cashews, spinach, veggies, nuts and legumes are great sources of those nutrients that help you fall asleep effortlessly. Some things you’re going to want to avoid, or at least limit, are alcohol and caffeine (Greatist). The affects may be subjective with these things like this, but for the most part these two things don’t normally impact a persons sleep in a positive way. Alcohol may make you fall asleep quickly, but that doesn’t mean that you’re in the correct sleep state. It prevents us from achieving the correct amount of time in our deep sleep stages. This will cause you to feel unrefreshed, irritable, groggy and may add to a potential hangover. Caffeine suppresses adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel drowsy (Tuck). While a nice cup of Joe does help some people go to bed, it can delay your body clock timing, which then cuts down on your total light and deep sleep time throughout the night (Sleep Education).
4. Invest in a High Quality Pillow and Mattress
What you sleep on is the utmost important factor of how you sleep. If you’ve ever had any sort of sleep issues, your pillow or mattress could be the problem. Your pillow has an affect on the way your neck aligns with your spine, (Healthy Back) and your mattress affects your spine as well, on top of helping reduce joint and back paint (NearSay). Both of them have an influence on how long you’re sleeping, how comfortable you are and even helps prevent snoring. If you don’t pay attention to this and sweep it under the rug, you could be facing issues like back problems, headaches and sleep disruption. It may seem like nothing major, but over time these things can add up and potentially be extremely harmful to your health.
Don’t feel guilty about spending a Friday night in to catch up on some rest, your body needs it. Our body isn’t designed to constantly be on the go, and we can’t treat it like it is. Be sure to follow some of these tips to help you get started on bettering your sleep to better your life!