Nowadays, so many people find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. There are so many things that can keep you awake or stop you from resting well, so it’s absolutely vital that you take the right steps to minimize these influences if you want to rest and revitalize your body. Our society undervalues the importance of sleep, but sleep is absolutely critical for prime function.
According to the CDC, over 30% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep each night, and in a lot of industries a lack of sleep is even considered productive or helps you fit into company culture. Yet, across the board, more sleep leads to better results in all areas of your life.
Arianna Huffington’s critically acclaimed book, The Sleep Revolution, paints a grim picture of Western sleep culture – kicking off the book with a first-person account of how she broke her cheekbone because she fainted from sleep deprivation – but she also offers genuine advice on how to stop wearing sleep deprivation as a badge of honor and finally lean into getting good sleep. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think to get a good night’s sleep.
Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t just start when your head hits the pillow at night. It starts well before you actually get in your bed, from your evening routine, to the timing of when you eat, and more.
Many people struggle with sleep because they don’t have an evening routine that preps their body for rest. An evening routine signals to your body that it’s time to start winding down, and helps your brain prepare for restful sleep. Here are some things you can do to create your own evening routine and enhace your sleep.
Leave Work At The Door
Coming back to the comfort of your home after a long and difficult day of work should be a release, not an opportunity to keep working. Work-life balance is important and without it, your sleep can be negatively affected. Spending the entire night worrying about your job or doing a bunch of strenuous household chores are activities that activate your nervous system and energize your body. This will no doubt keep you awake for hours on end or disrupt the little sleep that you do get.
There’s no need for you to be thinking about customer complaints, more ways to increase productivity at work, new ways to make side income like dropshipping, Forex trading, or anything else when you’re laying in your bed trying to sleep. Let it go, and allow yourself to leave the day behind you. This automatically helps you make your home a place where you can switch into rest mode and begin to recharge for the next day ahead.
Change Your Evening Diet
The food that you eat in the evening can have a huge impact on your sleep quality, as there are certain foods which can be very detrimental to your rest. Make sure not to eat or drink anything with caffeine anytime after 3 or 4pm. Caffeine stays in the human body 4-6 hours after consumption, therefore, it will keep you energized well into the evening and will disrupt your body’s ability to start winding down when you need it to.
Additionally, as it gets dark outside, your body’s metabolism starts to slow down in preparation for your sleep. This means that your digestion is slower, so you don’t have the power to digest heavy foods for several hours before bedtime. Some of the worst foods that you can eat before sleeping are those which are spicy and fried, as they are the hardest to digest and might even cause gastrointestinal distress. Eating too late at night can have the same effects as well. Rather than staying up all night with acid reflux and tummy pains, opt for a lighter dinner, several hours before bedtime instead!
Put Away Electronics
In order for your body to actually start feeling tired when its time to go to bed, it’s important to reduce the amount of blue light you are looking at around bedtime. Blue light from your device screens suppress melatonin production, which is the hormone that makes you sleepy. Therefore, turning off those devices 1-2 hours before bed can help your body naturally produce the right amount of melatonin at the right time.
If that’s difficult for you (which I can admit is hard for me too), at least make sure to turn your phone or other device on night mode so that the blue light isn’t so harsh and your body can adjust better when you do finally put it away. Also, putting your phone on do not disturb (focus mode) and adding a night time alarm to remind you when to start shutting things down can really help hold you accountable!
Have a Bedtime Routine
If you’re used to just hopping in the bed after dinner and then watching tv until you can’t keep your eyes open, then wondering why it takes you 30 minutes just to fall asleep (even though while the tv was on you kept nodding off) or you keep waking in the middle of the night, adding a bedtime routine could really help you out.
After turning off all the lights and other electronics around the house, I personally like to take a leisurely shower, do my multi-step Korean skincare routine, and only then will I get in the bed. This helps me incorporate some self care into my day and prepare my body to rest well. Not only does it give your brain a buffer between the blue light from whatever you were watching on tv or scrolling on your phone, it gives you something relaxing to do in the meantime while your body is getting tired.
If you’ve already put away your electronics and have done your bedtime routine, but still aren’t quite ready to close your eyes, the best bedtime activity you can do is read. I prefer reading from a physical book because I love the feeling of the pages between my fingers, but if you’re more of a kindle or iPad person, that works too! Just make sure you change the display settings to dim the blue light and help your eyes adjust.
Reading before bed has been proven to help reduce stress and you’ll also retain the knowledge better because sleeping helps your brain consolidate and store new information. This is probably why kids love being read bedtime stories so much!
Make Your Room a Sanctuary
If your room is somewhere you often work (this WFH life means our bed can sometimes turn into our desk!), it’s cluttered all the time, or you leave the blinds open and light/noises from the street disturb you at night, it might be time to reassess how your bedroom is playing into your sleep disturbances.
Turn your bedroom into your own personal sanctuary by setting boundaries for it. No work allowed in the bedroom. Make sure you don’t have clothes and trash all over your room. Do a little sweeping up and organizing so that the mess doesn’t add more stress to your life. Also, when you sleep make sure to close your blinds so that the light from the streetlights or the early morning sun doesn’t bother you. Even try sleeping with a sleep mask or earplugs if that helps you.
Furthermore, is your room the right temperature? Is it getting enough ventilation? Little things like this that most people don’t think much about, can really affect your quality of sleep. Studies show that healthy sleeping habits are a complex balance between behaviour, environment and circadian rhythm.
When it comes to environment, the ideal sleep temperature is between 60-67 degrees fahrenheit. Most people might think that’s too cold, but when you factor in pajamas, sheets/blankets, and potentially your partner in bed with you, that adds heat to your environment and now your body has to work against that to keep you cool. If your body is working too hard in that capacity, it may become difficult to sleep well.
Tucking Things In
When was the last time you got new sheets and pillowcases? This is something people often look over because sheets are sheets, right? Wrong. Sleeping on sheets that aren’t breathable or that are so old they don’t even fit on your mattress correctly anymore can definitely affect how well you sleep. Your body won’t be able to regulate its temperature quite as well, or you may end up tossing and turning all night. Neither of those contribute to good rest.
Another expert tip, if you have to get up in the middle of the night, try doing so while keeping the lights off. Once that light comes on, your body starts adjusting and your melatonin starts to decrease. Even just a few minutes of light in the middle of the night can throw your sleep schedule off entirely.
Getting a full night’s rest has never been so simple when you can take the time to utilize some of the ideas I’ve shared above. Start by creating an evening routine that works for you and you’ll definitely begin to reap the rewards! Happy sleeping!