How to Improve Your Sleep
Sleep is supposed to be something that the body does naturally — so why does it seem so difficult to fall asleep sometimes? You can improve the quantity and quality of your sleep with a few valuable tips. But how?
According to NPR, 60 million Americans can’t sleep, have trouble falling asleep, and/or experience difficulty staying asleep. There are so many factors that can keep the mind awake even when the body is sending it other messages, messages of sleepiness. When you throw blue-light electronics into the mix (cell phones, tablets, televisions, anything that can cast Netflix), your mind has a difficult time computing the body’s signals that it is tired.
(Photo by Bekah Russom)
With so many stimulants keeping our minds turning and churning when they should be settling down, it’s no wonder that so many Americans suffer from insomnia (or other sleep-related issues). So how do we combat the inability to hit the hay after a long day bustling around, staring at LED screens?
Check out these tips for clocking more ZZZ’s:
Train your body on a routine.
Getting settled into a night routine is the best thing you can do for your sleep cycle. Soon after practicing the same pre-sleep rituals, your body will become accustomed to the schedule and anticipate that certain things (brushing your teeth, washing your face, getting ready for bed…) will signify that sleep is coming.
Limit any light.
Natural or otherwise. The room in which you sleep should be pitch black, no night lights, no morning light creeping in through ajar blinds. Most importantly, no LED lights from screens of any kinds — also known as, don’t fall asleep with the TV on.
Get an alarm clock.
Like a real one, not your iPhone. When prepping for bed, turn off your cell phone completely (and all other technology) or put it in airplane mode. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake up in the morning and don’t reach for your phone right away, while still in bed.
Set the mood.
What’s the ideal environment for you to get your best night’s sleep? Set the mood that’s going to soothe you most, whether it’s using essential oils, rearranging the pillows, or lighting a calm-smelling candle while you prep for bed.
Resort to melatonin.
For extra sleepless nights, 5mg of melatonin won’t hurt. Of course, don’t try to make it a habit but on nights when you especially are tossing and turning, a little sleep aid will do the trick.
Journal or read before bed.
There’s something about the written word that has a soothing quality. Journaling with a focus on gratitude is a great way to wind down from your day, as it helps you focus on all the good there was in the day (even if it wasn’t a good day). Gratitude practices also makes for healthier, happier people, statistically. Reading prior to bed is also an effective option for some people, as it can make you realize just how sleepy you actually are.
Check out Sleep With Me.
The “Sleep With Me Podcast: The Podcast That Puts You to Sleep” does exactly what its title promises to do. I was skeptical of its efficiency at first but after one barely-listened episode (barely-listened because I was passed out asleep almost immediately), I’m a convert. This podcast is a magical sleep cocktail in a nutshell.
Wear socks to bed.
While everyone has her own unique sleeping preferences, warmth is actually scientifically-proven to promote sleep. People with warm hands and feet are more likely to fall asleep quicker. Moral of the story: Slip on some socks in order to doze off quicker.
Practice muscle relaxation.
Muscle relaxation is a meditation technique in which while quieting down the mind, a person focuses on each muscle, starting from their toes to the top of their head, at a time. Start by tensing and flexing the toes, then relaxing them. Slowly work your way up to the calves and thighs, until you reach your head. Once every muscle has been relaxed, it’s supposed to, theoretically, be easier to relax the mind, too, and fall asleep.
Try a weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets are common among people with an autism diagnosis but believe it or not, people suffering from anxiety-induced insomnia can also benefit. Interested in buying one? Try this directory.
Wear loose clothing.
I know, Victoria’s Secret leggings are super comfortable (and cute!) but I see such a difference in my sleep quality when I wear tight clothes I think are comfortable vs. loose clothes that actually are comfortable. Pajamas are a thing for a reason; don’t fall asleep in your leggings, tight undies, and sports bra all the time.