Over the years I’ve learned that sleep is one of those things that can really set the mood for your day. I’m not going to lie, I’m a great sleeper and when I have an off night I am definitely irritable the next day. I think that our society is very go-go-go and as a result, we undervalue the importance of sleep. Sleep is the only real chance that your body has to rest. When you don’t get enough sleep or your sleep is poor quality (lots of wake ups, constant tossing and turning) then your body begins to weaken and you won’t be able to function at your maximum ability.
Some of the effects that not getting enough hours of quality sleep each night can have on your body are:
- Weight gain
- Increased susceptibility to illness and disease
- Poor concentration
- Increased risk for depression and anxiety
- Difficult regulating mood and increased irritability
Keep reading for a few of my favorite tips for better sleep!
My top five tips for better sleep are:
Come up with a bed-time routine and stick to it:
There’s a reason why parents implement a bedtime routine for children… it’s because it actually works! I like to start my bedtime routine at least an hour before I want to fall asleep. My routine usually consists of taking a bath, having a cup of tea, reading a good book, and daily reflection. I’ve found that taking a few moments to reflect on my day allows me to then forget about anything that may be on my mind. This prevents me from laying in bed thinking about things when I’m trying to fall asleep. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it!
Dim the lights:
This goes along with implementing a bedtime routine. Part of your routine should be to dim the lights. Bright lights are stimulating and tell our brain not to make melatonin, the hormone that induces sleepiness. When you dim the lights, your brain knows that it’s time to stimulate melatonin production which in turn causes you to become drowsy.
Put away the electronics:
This is a huge one for me! Before the days of cell phones and internet I feel like it was so much easier for people to end their work day. Now that everyone has cell phones I feel like it’s so much harder for people to stop working for the night. You might get a text from a coworker asking a work-related question or an email from your boss reminding you of a big project for work. I think that picking a time to be done with anything work related is really important. For me, once we’ve eaten dinner I am no longer accessible for anything work-related, unless it’s an emergency. I don’t check my email because I know that I will end up thinking about work and it will be that much more difficult to get my mind to wind down for the night. Stress increases your bodies cortisol levels and one of the things that cortisol does is make you more alert. A cortisol rise is definitely not what you want when it’s time for bed. Put the cell phones down and the laptops away and let your mind take a break from technology.
You might think that this one is a given, but you might be surprised at how long caffeine can actually stay in your system. It’s not uncommon for people to sip on an afternoon cup of coffee to keep them going through the last stretch of their work day. I have been guilty of this before and I always regret it. A late day cup of coffee makes it soooo much harder for me to wind down in the evenings and I usually end up staying awake way later than I prefer. Lately I’ve been trying to switch my afternoon coffee for a cup of herbal tea. I like the routine of having a hot beverage to sip on, so replacing the coffee with tea gives me the same satisfaction.
Turn down the air
Lowering the temperature at night is a great way to let your body know that it’s time to rest. Open the windows and let the cool fresh air come in. If this isn’t feasible due to the weather, then work with the climate control in your home. Try either not cranking the heat up as high, or setting your air conditioning lower. Snuggle up under the covers and shut your eyes for a good night’s sleep.
Do you have any tips for better sleep that I may have not mentioned?