Sleep 101: Five Tips to Start Sleeping Better Tonight

We're told since childhood that we're supposed to get enough sleep, but that's often easier said than done.  According to the latest figures from the CDC, this is a major health issue with an estimated 50-70 million Americans having sleep disorders.  Both getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep are a challenge for many yet your quality of life during waking hours hinges on this very activity.   Either unhealthy habits have gotten in the way of quality sleep or you just can't seem to relax enough to calm your brain.  Luckily, there are some proven tips and tricks that experts agree will have you sleeping better tonight, with more energy to burn tomorrow.

1

SET YOUR INTERNAL CLOCK

Your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle, also called a circadian rhythm, and this is one of the most important elements to a successful sleep strategy.  It's all about consistency and here is how you go about setting and keeping your internal clock ticking properly.

  • Sleep Schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.  Set a realistic bedtime that works with your lifestyle and routine.  This should be a time that you are getting sleepy at night so that you don't have to fight to go to sleep or wake up in the morning.
  • Avoid Sleeping in on Weekends.  It may be tempting to give yourself a treat, but sleeping in any time is going to disrupt your internal clock.  If you've stayed out late at night on a weekend, get up at the same time and opt for a short nap in the afternoon as a refresher.
  • Watch Out for Naps.  If you are having sleep problems, you may wish to eliminate naps or limit them to very short ones (15-20 minutes) in the early afternoon only.
2

HAVE A BEDTIME RITUAL

Doing the same things each night before bed is an excellent way to let our bodies and minds know that it's time to wind down.  Here are some bedtime ritual tips to get you in the right space for sleep.

  • Muscle Relaxation. Take a warm bath or a shower to relax the muscles and the mind.
  • Reading. Reading a book by soft light in bed is a great way to wind down but it's been shown to be better for you if you read from either a traditional printed book or e-ink technology as opposed to something that is backlit.
3

CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT

The room that you sleep in should be set up to make your sleep experience as optimal as possible.  This means taking into account comfort, light, and other environmental factors.

  • Comfortable Bed.  It's pretty difficult to sleep when your bed is lumpy, or your sheets are scratchy. If you need to invest in a new mattress, a new pillow, or some premium bedding, be sure to do this.
  • Light Factors.  It can't be stressed enough that your exposure to light has an enormous impact on your sleep-wake cycle. When you are awake, be sure to get some natural sunlight and when in your sleep environment, eliminate all electronics and bright artificial lights.
  • Other Factors.  Other environmental factors that affect sleep include temperature and noise. An ideal temperature is around  65° F or 18° C and outside noise can be masked with a fan or ambient noise machine.
4

WATCH YOUR DIET

Don't worry. We're not telling you to go on a diet, simply to pay attention to what you are eating and drinking at certain times of the day as they can impact your sleep.

  • Caffeine Intake.  While it may go without saying that caffeine can keep you awake, what many don't realize is that it can affect your sleep even 10-12 hours after drinking it.   Cutting out caffeine after lunch may be a good idea.
  • Big Meals at Night.  Eating a big meal within two hours of going to bed can cause sleep problems as your body is still working hard to digest all that food.
  • Alcohol Intake.  Some may think that alcohol makes them sleepy, but it will wreak havoc with your sleep cycle once you do fall asleep.  Try to stay away from alcohol in the hours before your regular bedtime.
5

EXERCISE AT THE RIGHT TIMES

Staying physically fit is a great way to promote a healthy sleep cycle, provided you are exercising during the right times of the day.

  • Regular Exercise. Studies show that regular exercise will improve the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea.
  • Proper Timing.  Because exercise speeds up your metabolism, it's important that you finish any workouts at least 3-4 hours before your bedtime.

Lastly, consider trying something natural - essential oils can be added to your nightly routine easily. Take a look at our oils focused around sleep below!

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