Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Ever after a long arduous day, get in bed close your eyes and try to go to sleep? Just to realize five minutes in, that you are wide awake. Or maybe you fell asleep however, once you woke up in the morning you felt groggy and sluggish?
If you are like me, then you understand and appreciate the importance of sleep in your life. It is how we recharge our batteries, and it gives our body’s the time necessary to replenish itself.
The issue in relation to sleep are our habits leading up to and coming out of our slumbering experience. Here are some habits you can implement into your daily life. These will bolster your sleep experience. You may feel better rested and more energized to face each day head on:
Destroy your Alarm
Let’s start with what is probably going to be seen as the most controversial. If you want to improve your quality of sleep, stop using your alarm. Firstly, the value of an alarm is questionable at best.
More than half of people hit their snooze button at least once. 27% of people feel a sense of anxiety at the sound of their alarm. Less than one percent of people actually feel awake and well rested when their alarm goes off.
In short, alarms are not the most beneficial to your material well-being. Additionally, most people use a phone to set their alarm. Looking at a screen before bed does not help with achieving a restful sleep.
If you need to be up for work, try going to bed notably earlier than normal. Allow yourself time to wake up naturally. Additionally, if you must have an alarm, be intentional in only setting one with no need to press the snooze button.
You can also change the sound of your alarm. If you are among the iPhone user population in particular, you know how dreadfully awful the radar ring sound is. Try changing the ring tone to something more tranquil. This applies to most alarms (not just iPhone), and doing so facilitates a healthy and exhilarating waking experience. As opposed to one that will cause your heart to palpitate.
The bottom line is, you want your alarm to work with you not against you. You do not need an alarm to wake you up for your passions. I would suggest, that if you feel you need multitude of alarms, then there maybe something in your life sapping too much energy from you. Identify the energy vampire in your life and do what you can to remove it/reduce its impact.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
Another pitfall people may find themselves in is eating late/close to bedtime. This can be detrimental to your quality of sleep. After you eat your body starts to metabolize what it is that you just ate. When your body is in a metabolic state it cannot properly prepare itself for slumber. You need energy necessary to process food, which will detract from a restful night sleep.
By eating before bed you also risk weight gain and potential for other health problems.
One thing you can do to mitigate this issue is to be intentional about your snacking habits. If you find yourself hungry after dinner and its late in the evening, before you reach for the chocolate-chip cookies, or the tub of ice cream, try having some healthy alternatives on hand instead.
The problem with eating foods that are high in carbs and sugars at night is that they take longer for your body to digest and could disrupt your sleep pattern. Not to mention, that you run the risk of binge eating, or eating more than originally intended. Using a bag of chips for example: one chip can turn to 10 can turn to 30 really quickly.
Your best bet for bedtime snacks includes vegetables, healthy nuts like almonds or walnuts, avocados, black berries, straw berries, and blue berries, or any other low carbohydrate, high healthy fat, high protein option. Additionally, water is your best friend. You should be drinking on average at least 13.5 cups of water a day.
Another good rule of thumb is to make a consorted effort in making your last main meal of the day (dinner) no less than three hours before your bedtime. If preferable, you can also introduce an intermittent fasting schedule into your diet as well to help reign in those renegade cravings.
Utilize Sleep Supplements
Before I talk about good sleep aid supplements, I want to first address things that you might be ingesting that are not helpful for your sleep – an obvious one being caffeine. While caffeine has a multitude of benefits, those helpful traits do not extend into bedtime. Having something that is caffeinated too close to bedtime can drastically reduce your quality of sleep.
Coffee, energy drinks, sodas, caffeinated teas, and dark chocolate are all things that you should avoid up to eight hours before bedtime. In a study, people who consumed caffeine within six hours before sleep identified with having a significantly diminished quality of sleep. It is recommended that you avoid coffee and other highly caffeinated food past 4pm to ensure a good night’s rest.
Another thing that should be avoided to promote a restful night of sleep is alcohol. Alcohol before bed increases symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and irregular sleep patterns.
Now on to the good stuff, what sleep aids are beneficial to sleep? There are several supplements that can relax you and help you fall asleep including: glycine, magnesium, L-theanine, and lavender. Chief among these supplements however is melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that encourages sleep in our body. It is a rather useful supplement that has proven affects. Studies have found that melatonin before bed leads to a better quality of sleep during the night and a feeling of being well rested and more energized in the morning. Melatonin can also help you fall asleep faster.
In most places’ melatonin is an over the counter drug, that can be acquired at nearly any store/supermarket.
Perfect Your Sleep Environment
Another way to improve your quality of sleep is to make sure that you are sleeping in optimal conditions. This means that you are sleeping in a cooler environment that is both soothing and relaxing. It also means that you have quality sheets and blankets, and a set of good pillows, all adorning a comfortable mattress.
By setting your room to a cooler temperature when you sleep, you are allowing your body to utilize less energy while sleeping. Our body’s temperature naturally drops during bedtime so by facilitating that process, you encourage your body to fall asleep sooner and more deeply.
Having a good set of sheets, blankets, and pillows should be a no brainer when it comes to getting high quality sleep. Being equipped with these things are vital to ensuring your comfort. The goal is to combat anything that would detract from your overall sleep experience and having materials on your bed that may make you uncomfortable will impede you from getting a good night’s rest.
The same goes for your mattress. You want to make sure that you have a mattress that is complementary to your body. Make sure that you have something supportive that does not irritate the normal pressure points on a human’s body. You also want to be attentive to the positioning of your spine while you sleep as to detract from additional discomforts. If your mattress is not the best, there are several memory foam and mattress cover products you can purchase and put over your bed to increase its comfort level.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure your pillows are not overused meaning flat and lacking buoyancy. And on average, you should be changing your sheets every two weeks to ensure freshness, and that wonderful crisp feeling you get when laying in a clean and inviting bed.
Take Your Clothes Off
Lastly, to ensure a better quality of sleep, I encourage you to take your clothes off. At first glance this one is obviously a little racy however, there is science and logic behind this tip as well. Sleeping in a cool environment not only helps you sleep better, but it also has a multitude of other health benefits that include: anti-aging, increased melatonin levels, weight loss, enhanced mood, and reduced stress.
Sleeping while naked will improve your body temperature regulation allowing your body to cool down during bedtime. Having a lower body temperature during sleep will help you fall asleep quicker and easier.
Good quality sleep is all about being comfortable. By doing what is outlined in this article you will be intentionally helping yourself get a good night’s rest. A good night of sleep is invaluable. Having such sleep continually improves your immune system, prevents weight gain, improves memory, and increases productivity and overall mood.
Health is wealth, so ensure your wealth and your legacy by making sure that you are getting a good night’s sleep regularly. Good sleep is not a luxury, it is for you too, and I hope you start taking advantage of it every night.
Originally published October 22, 2020.