Nothing beats a good night’s sleep. Waking up refreshed to start a new day is one of the most healing and revitalizing experiences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lack of sleep is becoming an epidemic, with 40% of Americans sleep deprived. Sleep directly affects your mental, emotional, and physical health during your waking hours. Not getting enough zzzz’s is linked to a wide variety of health problems including: weight gain, depression, memory/concentration problems, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
How can I get a better night’s sleep?
There are several things you can do naturally to increase your chances of better sleep. Consider these tips to change your daytime habits and transform your sleep quality:
Establish a consistent routine: Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This helps set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Choose a bedtime when you normally feel tired so that you don’t toss and turn. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally without an alarm. There are several sleep Apps available that may help monitor, track, and improve your sleep.
Monitor your daytime habits: Your daytime habits can radically affect your nighttime experience. Be mindful about what you eat and drink. We all love a cup of coffee to start our day, but caffeine can cause sleep problems 10 hours after a single cup! Try to make dinnertime earlier to avoid heavy meals too close to bedtime. A nightcap may help you wind down, but research shows alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle.
Make time for exercise: According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercise can play an important role in your sleep quality. People who exercise regularly fall asleep faster, sleep longer at night, and feel less sleepy during the day. Experiment by talking a daily 20-minute walk, or find other forms of physical activity you enjoy and monitor the quality of sleep over the course of a week.
Power Down. A recent study found that smartphone use around bedtime was associated with a longer time to fall asleep and worse sleep quality during the night. Whether surfing the web, playing a video game, or using your phone as an alarm clock, you are probably keeping yourself from a restful night. Try to power down at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime to clear your mind.
Set the Scene: Residual stress, worry, and anger from your day can take a toll on your sleep quality. Once nighttime rolls around, strive to create a relaxing bedtime routine. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, muscle massage, meditation, and visualizing a peaceful, restful place can all have calming effects. Other ideas to unwind and melt away stress before bedtime include taking a warm bath, listening to soft music, dimming the lights leading up to bedtime, or even reading in soft light. A dim and cool room, a comfortable pillow and mattress, and white noise can also improve sleep quality.
How about you? Do you have any of your own sleep tips and tools you can share with the community? We’d love to hear from you! Please post your natural sleep techniques, apps, or other resources here:
Resources for sleep products and Apps.