Do you lie awake at night, fighting to fall asleep? Maybe your brain is keeping you up with all the stress of the day or you're struggling to find a comfortable position where your body can feel relaxed. If this is relatable, I promise, you are not alone. When we don’t get a healthy amount of sleep, it can lead to experiencing major threats to our health and happiness. Sleep is responsible for healing and preparing the body for the next day. It improves our daily performance, keeps our minds sharp, and we feel better mentally and physically. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to increased heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, and more negative side effects.
Healthy sleep requires 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted rest. Leading factors for sleep disorders are breathing problems, drinking alcohol, eating certain foods, eating too late in the evening, inadequate exercise, or depression & anxiety. Many of us struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night, but it has been proven that creating healthy sleep habits before bed is a great way to start falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.
One thing that can be done is to create a regular sleep routine to follow each night. Every night have a set of specific activities to do before getting in bed. This will help get the mind and body in a “ready for sleep” mindset and make going to bed much smoother. Things to think of when creating healthier sleep habits are:
Set up a healthy and comfortable sleep environment. The place where you sleep should be comfortable and relaxing. Eliminate any distractions in the bedroom.
- Keep noise levels low and the room dark and cool.
- Remove any screens from the bedroom.
- Turn off, silence, or put away anything that may disrupt your sleep, like a cell phone.
- Keep your bedroom as an area for rest and nothing else.
Maintain a consistent time for going to sleep every day of the week. This includes weekends. This keeps our circadian rhythm regular, making it easier to fall asleep when we want to.
- Set up a bedtime routine (shower, brush teeth, pajamas)
- Have the same "shut-off-the-lights" time every night.
Turn off or silence all electronics like phones and TVs at least 30 min to an hour before bedtime. Screens disrupt the release of melatonin in the body making it harder to fall asleep.
- Instead of staring at a screen before bed, try reading a book.
Reduce intake of caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals before bed.
- Try not to drink caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
- Avoid eating large meals two to three hours prior to bedtime. If you are feeling hungry eat a light healthy snack.
- Alcohol causes restless sleep, even when given enough hours of sleep the body will still feel tired.
Avoid physical activity right before bed.
- Physical activity energizes the body and raises body temperature making it difficult to relax.
- However, physical activity earlier in the day helps the body sleep better.
Do some calming exercises to relax the body.
- Read, listen to music, do some light yoga before bed.
- Practice deep breathing while lying in bed.
- Do progressive muscle relaxation. This is a technique that focuses on one part of the body at a time and relaxing each muscle till your body feels completely relaxed and you fall asleep.
Getting a good night’s rest is very important for our well-being. It is beneficial for your mental and physical self and keeps you going every day. Do your body a favor and start creating healthy sleep habits that will lead to a better night’s rest and a happier you.