How to Sleep Better
As much as your body needs to breathe, your body needs to sleep. Getting proper shuteye plays an essential role in determining your mental wellness, physical health, and overall quality of life. We know that sufficient sleep heals your body and mind, but today more than ever due to so much noise, sleep may not come as easy as it used to.
How Sleep Affects our Waking Lives
The way you feel while you're awake is highly dependent on how you sleep. The more rested you feel when you wake up; the higher your focus, the better your memory, along with heightened productivity; and so much more.
"So, if you’re tempted to binge watch another Netflix episode at the expense of missing your bedtime, think twice."
Especially today, getting quality sleep deserves a high priority on your to-do list. With continuing lock-downs, many of us have been forced to work from home and this has led to increased disruption to our daily (and nightly) routines. Seventy per cent of those working from home have seen their sleep patterns disrupted. So, if you’re tempted to binge watch another Netflix episode at the expense of missing your bedtime, think twice. A good night's sleep is a real game-changer for one’s health and a lack of it can wreak havoc on everything from your gut health and heart health, to your hormones, exercise performance, and weight.
Top Tips for Sleep Hygiene
So how can I get better sleep, you ask? Knowing that a quality siesta has so many health benefits, we’ve compiled some of the top ways to help get you drowsy and ready for bed.
The Power of Routines
Our day-to-day routine plays an important role in keeping us mentally focused and our internal clock in sync. Routines help balance our circadian rhythm and when this rhythm is thrown off, so is our sleep. Predictable cues that our internal clocks rely on (such as getting dressed and driving to work) are no longer part of our day; and because of this, our regular patterns are disrupted. Therefore, our sleep is disrupted.
Patterns at the end of the day are equally important. Establishing a sleep routine, such as reading and enjoyable book, listening to calming music or yoga nidra can help ease your body into sleep.
Ditch the Distractions
While many of us are working from home, boundaries can get blurry. Try and stick to regular work hours. Checking emails and working too close to bedtime is a distraction and keeps our brain waves in Beta mode which is great for when it is time to perform yet not ideal when we are trying to relax or and feel calm. Getting rid of any technology from your bedroom is one of the best ways to switch off and unwind. Once you’ve turned off your tech, practice some slow rhythmic breathing to promote deeper Alpha brain wave states which naturally helps us down-regulate our nervous system.
Shed Some Natural Light
Whether it’s a morning walk with the dog or sipping your a.m. coffee in the garden, get outdoors. Natural light helps reset our internal body clock and makes us more alert. Our circadian rhythms align with the rise and fall of the sun and light. Therefore, natural daylight will play a large role in keeping our body clocks in sync.
Keep It Dark and Reduce the Blue Light
We know that light plays a large role in preparing our bodies for sleep. Like a cave, keeping your bedroom dark can help the body wind down for sleep. This might sound easy, but in the technology-driven world we live in, many bedrooms are lit with blue lights coming from smartphones and laptop screens. Blue light and EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies) like cell phones, wifi, modems, routers, and all wireless devices interfere with our natural circadian rhythm and is one of the biggest disruptors of sleep.
Some ways to reduce blue light exposure even during the daytime include the following:
Temperature can greatly impact sleep quality. Everyone has differing preferences, but in general optimal sleep is ideal in cooler temperatures. It’s suggested that anywhere between 60-67°F is best to help encourage the body to rest since your body temperature decreases as part of the sleep initiation process.
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Curb the Caffeine
Give yourself enough time between your last cup of coffee and your bedtime to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to wind down. When consumed late in the day, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may prevent your body from relaxing at night. In various studies, consuming caffeine after 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. significantly decreases the quality of sleep. If you really need your cuppa java after that time, stick to decaf.
Say ‘No’ to the Late-Night Snack
Getting the munchies too close to bedtime will negatively affect both sleep quality, reduce the secretion of melatonin, and cause hormone disruption. At night when the body is preparing for sleep, it slows down its functions, and consuming foods can make it harder to rest and digest, which can result in a slower metabolism and weight gain.
Sleep Herbs and Supplements
One of the most trusted and used supplements to promote sleep is melatonin, a natural hormone which tells your brain when it’s time to relax and get to bed. In one study, taking melatonin before bed improved sleep quality and energy the next day. Other supplements known to aid with relaxation and sleep quality when combined with other strategies include ginkgo biloba, glycine, valerian root, magnesium, L-theanine, lavender and chamomile. Always consult your health care practitioner when introducing new supplements into your regime.
The Magic of Mindfulness
Although many people may have had a nighttime routine that helped them relax, these may have been dismantled by the pandemic. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga nidra and gentle mindful movement before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are common techniques used to address sleep issues. Other relaxation techniques before bed, including hot baths, slow rhythmic breathing methods and meditation, may also help you fall asleep and stay asleep. The School Of Happiness specializes in holistic methods to enhance health and well-being. Enjoy some of the complementary practices and strategies offered on the site or become a member to access the 200+ video library of routines and resources.
Listing all the benefits of sleep, would be like listing all the benefits of breathing. Our bodies need sleep not only to survive, but to thrive. So put on your pj’s, get your bedroom optimally set up for winding down and have a sweet dreams.
For information on how to host an online Lunch and Learn like "Sleep Better to Feel Better, Perform Better and Live Better" for your organization, contact the BeWell 360 team at https://www.bewell360program.com/ or at 250-999-7447