01 May 5 Natural Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep
5 Natural Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep
Unfortunately, one of the most elusive things in today’s busy world is sleep. Thanks to work, kids, family, and other obligations, our days seem to get longer and longer and our nights shorter and shorter. And it’s a shame, because the feeling of being well-rested can change your entire outlook on life, to say nothing of feeling more alert and energetic.
We all know that we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. But getting those precious hours is only part of the battle. If you’re not sleeping well or find it difficult to wind down at night, there are a few simple steps you can take to get the most out of your rest time.
1.TURN OFF THE LIGHTS
You’ve probably heard it before, but not many people truly realize how damaging light can be to a good night’s sleep. When the sun sets, the oncoming darkness lets your body know that it’s time to begin winding down. At this point, your brain releases a very important sleep hormone called melatonin, which tells your body that it’s time to sleep.
In the modern world, we’re surrounded by lights that will actually suppress melatonin. Using phones, televisions, laptops, and tablets in the bedroom will trick your brain into thinking it’s still partially daytime, and by the time you finally do shut those devices off, your sleep rhythm has already been delayed.
For the best sleep possible, don’t use anything with a screen in bed. Get rid of that TV, turn off the computer, and don’t leave your phone on your nightstand–it’s way too tempting.
Instead, wind down by reading in soft light or listening to relaxing music. And if you need an alarm to get you up in the morning, use a dedicated alarm clock and leave your phone on your dresser. You’ll be surprised how much this helps relax you.
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? There are multiple studies that show that people who exercise regularly during the day sleep better at night. And really, it makes sense. Think back to a time when you landscaped your yard or went on a long hike. You probably slept pretty well that night!
But while regular cardio or strength training can drastically improve your sleep (and overall health), you don’t have to break your back to sleep better. Just taking a brisk walk a couple hours before bed can improve your circulation.
Another great option is yoga, which can also be very relaxing. Again, you don’t have to go crazy here; just start with some simple poses to get your mind off of everything else. Do a quick Google search for “restorative yoga” for more information.
3. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DRINK
It’s easy not to think about the little things we do throughout the day. Even a quick cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up can actually drastically impact your sleep. Caffeine stays in your system for many hours, even when the initial jolt of energy fades.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid all caffeine after lunch. This will ensure that you don’t overdo it, while still allowing you to have that morning cup. Plus, once you start sleeping better, who knows? You may not need an afternoon cup any longer.
It’s also important to not drink any water for about three hours before bedtime. Drink plenty throughout the day, by all means, but the more you drink in the evening, the more likely it is you’ll have to wake up during the night for a bathroom run.
This is one of the single most important things you can do for yourself. Forget all the negative, “new-agey” feelings associated with meditation. The fact is, it’s a great way to relax, unwind, and declutter your mind before bed. The key is to not overthink it.
Start with five minutes of meditation about ten minutes before bed. Sit upright, cross your legs, and close your eyes. Focus only on your breathing, counting three seconds (one one-thousand…) on the inhale, and three seconds on the exhale. It’ll be tough at first, but try and let go of all the stress of the day. This is a fantastic way to prepare your mind for sleep.
If all else fails, supplementing with Melatonin could be a great option. But as with any supplement, make sure to speak with your doctor first!
As was said previously, Melatonin is a hormone manufactured by our bodies as a way to prepare our brain for sleep. When our bodies struggle with this for whatever reason, taking it in pill form can help support natural hormone levels. As such, it’s a fantastic natural way to prepare your brain for sleep. Still, you shouldn’t take it every night, or your body will begin to produce less and less.
To avoid this, you can take Melatonin 3-4 days a week, on nights when sleep is most important. Once you’ve established a healthy bedtime rhythm, you can tone back.
Ultimately, there are many things that impact sleep, so it’s important to begin making good sleep a real priority. Once you can sleep better, your whole day will go smoother, and you’ll feel much better overall. All it takes is a few changed habits, and you’ll establish an effective routine that can last the rest of your life. So give it a try! You’ll be surprised how much these five simple steps can help you sleep better.