Good quality sleep is a precious commodity these days, especially with so many screen based distractions that can keep us awake till all hours! Sleep is crucial for resting your brain and body, allowing your body to heal, rest and grow (if you’re of an age to still be growing!). It is the time your brain can ‘reset’ for the next day, flushing out byproducts, converting memories from short to long term and consolidating learning from the day before. Most of us are aware of what happens when we get a poor night's sleep; feeling drowsy, trouble concentrating, poor decision making abilities (especially around food/sugar!)
So it’s time to improve your sleep, you know your body and brain will thank you for it. Read on to learn some easy-to-implement tips to improve your sleep!
1. Go to bed when you get tired.
Seems obvious right? Yet most of us will push through that sleepy feeling, reaching for a sugary treat or deciding to watch one more episode. Start your bedtime routine when you start to feel sleepy (often around 9.30/10pm) and keep your phone away from your bedside when you do snuggle into bed!
2. Reduce light and noise in your bedroom.
With almost everyone experiencing stress, we become extra sensitive to light and noise because your body is on high alert for any possible dangers. Try to remove as much stimulus from your room as you can, blocking out streetlights, covering bright alarm clock faces, even nightlights can be too much for some people. Noise is harder to reduce, consider earplugs if your situation allows.
3. No devices/screens 2 hours before bed, no screens in the bedroom.
This is a big one. Screens emit blue light, which convinces your brain that it must still be daytime. This can alter your body's sleep hormone production and make it very difficult to get to sleep. While it may seem drastic, turning off the TV and putting away the devices 2 hours before bed can help your body to regulate itself properly and increase the quality of your sleep. If this is too ‘middle ages’ for you, you can try using blue light blocking glasses, and blue light filters on screens, but it is best to avoid screens altogether if you’re having difficulty with sleep. All devices have a ‘night mode’ or blue light blocking feature, just search your settings to find it.
4. No eating 3 hours before bed.
Going to bed on a full stomach can impact sleep quality and sleep hormone production, so it is best to give yourself a buffer of a few hours if you can. This can also help to reduce late night snacking if you know you are headed to bed soon.
5. Temperature and the environment in your bedroom.
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for rest and relaxation. Try to keep your bedroom tidy, no TV or other screens and create a restful, calm area to get your shut eye. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 18-20 degrees Celsius, so use heating or cooling to achieve this. Use your bed for sleep and sex, nothing else! No work, no laptops, no scrolling on your phone.
6. Increase your magnesium.
Magnesium has been shown to help with relaxation and quality of sleep, as well as reducing muscle spasm and night cramping. An amazing supplement that can improve many aspects of your life, magnesium supplements can help support healthy sleep.
7. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Alcohol can contribute to increased snoring and sleep apnoea, and has been shown to affect night-time melatonin production, the hormone that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake and can remain in your bloodstream for 6 to 8 hours after consumption, so watch your caffeine intake especially in the afternoon.
8. Use a posture correction device before bed.
To help calm your nervous system and relieve some stress, you can use a posture correction device for 15 mins before bed. This simple exercise helps to calm your brain and down-regulate your fight or flight response, which can help you get a more restful night's sleep.
9. Hack your body’s natural rhythms.
Sleep cycles are usually about 90 mins, so if you need to be up at 6am, go to sleep at 9.30 or 11pm to fit with the sleep cycle. This makes it much easier to get going in the morning, as you are more likely to wake up feeling tired and drowsy if your alarm wakes you in the middle of a cycle. Your body also craves routine, so try to sleep and wake at the same time each day. Sorry, that weekend sleep in is not such a good idea!
10. Relaxation techniques before bed.
Just like we do for the kids, a bedtime wind down routine can have benefits at any age. This will look different for everyone, depending on how you like to relax, but some ideas include: meditation, taking a hot bath, reading a book, listening to relaxing music, breathing exercises or visualisations. Anything that involves turning off a screen and allowing your mind to switch off before bed.
11. Get a good quality pillow.
Your pillow can make a big difference to how you feel when you wake in the morning. Are you waking with a stiff and sore neck, shoulders or upper back? Your pillow could be the problem. A contoured pillow which supports your head, neck and shoulders, whichever position you sleep in, can help you to wake up feeling refreshed. Just remember, when changing your pillow, it can take up to two weeks to get used to the change, so expect a period of adjustment as your body gets used to the new level of support. We love the Complete Sleeperrr pillow from Therapeutic Pillow, check one out next time you are in for an adjustment!
12. Get out in the sunshine!
Bright daylight helps to regulate circadian rhythm and sleep hormones, helping your body know when it is daytime and night. Exercise itself is a great way to improve sleep quality, and exercising during daylight hours is an extra amazing way to help your quality of sleep.
13. Lavender and chamomile.
Essential oils are becoming very well known for their uses in helping to calm and relax. A few drops of lavender oil on a tissue under your pillow can help you drift off a little easier. Chamomile tea is also quite well known for its ability to help calm and relax, a cup of chamomile before bed can help you wind down.
While it can feel like a good night's sleep is a long forgotten luxury, it is possible to wake feeling refreshed and ready for the day. Try just a couple of tips from our list, and see if you can make some changes to how you feel waking in the morning. Of course, this is all intended to be general advice, and if you are still experiencing difficulty with sleep, please consult a health professional for more specific advice.
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