3 Things You Can Do NOW to Sleep Better Tonight!
Sleep is essential to our well-being, yet according to the CDC 1 in 3 of US adults aren't getting restful sleep or enough sleep!
Sleep helps your body function properly, and without it, we're running on empty. Think of your phone, you plug it in every night to charge so you can have a full battery all day. You need sleep to recharge your battery too!
A few motivators to sleep:
Boosts your immune system
Helps with weight maintenance
Improves your mood
Improves cognition and memory
Increases energy and productivity
Okay, I'm motivated now - but how do I get a good night's sleep? Here are a few things you can do right now to improve your sleep quality and start feeling better!
SET A BEDTIME AND STICK TO IT
Do you remember having a bedtime as a kid? Well, as adults it's still important! Your body runs on a circadian rhythm, and waking up and going to bed at the same time every day reinforces your circadian rhythm and helps your body run efficiently. Don't worry if from time to time you stay up late or sleep in, the importance is that for the most part, you have a set bedtime and awake time on most days.
To set your bedtime think about how many hours of sleep you need/want. Most people strive for 8. Then think of when you need to wake up. Count backward from there and make that your bedtime. Remember that this is the time you want to be asleep, so you will need to start getting ready for bed and be in bed a bit earlier than that.
Here's an example.
I need to wake up at 6 am every morning (actually my daughter wakes me up ha!). I also know I need 8 hours of sleep to function at my best, and that it takes me about 30 minutes to fall asleep. In order for me to get my 8 hours of sleep I need to be asleep by 10, which means I need to get into bed at 9:30. On the weekends I usually sleep in until 630 or 7 depending on when my daughter wakes up, but I still try to get in bed by 10 (yes I'm old lol). This routine helps me stay sharp, energized and healthy!
Your body produces melatonin to relax and get you ready for rest. It increases soon after the onset of darkness, peaks in the middle of the night (around 2 and 4 am),
and gradually starts to fall as morning comes.
Here's a great visual. (source: https://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/local/projects/s_thipayang/intro.html)
Here's the problem. We spend a lot of our time in front of a screen which can disrupt our melatonin production. Studies show that two or more hours of screen time in the evening before bed can disrupt the production of melatonin needed to fall asleep. So, the late-night Netflix binging, falling asleep on the couch with the tv on, or endless scrolling on social media can be detrimental to our sleep!! Instead, try powering down at night about an hour before you go to bed, two if you can. I personally read at night. Yes, I watch a show sometimes to unwind, but at 9 pm I shut down and get out my book. I find it helps me fall asleep quicker and stay asleep rather than looking at my phone, or reading the news ( hello anxiety!) or even doing work.
What to do instead
Once you've established your bedtime, you can understand when to power down. Take an hour to do something else such as reading, stretching, coloring or anything else that takes you away from a screen. Note that I have a Kindle and I set the light to low power so the light doesn't affect my melatonin production.
SET UP YOUR SPACE
Your room should be a space for sleep and intimacy only. Set up your room to be relaxing and inviting and not a space of chaos.
Here are a few things you can do to set up your space for rest!
Remove all electronics from your room
Have light-blocking shades
Set up a noise machine if you need white noise to fall asleep
Consider removing your pets from your room if they keep you up
Invest in comfortable sheets, pillows, and a mattress to ensure you get a good night's sleep.
Try a few or all of these at your pace. Each small change is a positive step towards a better night's sleep!