Some people can fall asleep as soon as they lay down for the evening - others aren't so lucky and need to follow a routine just to fall asleep. For some, even after all of the preparation, restful sleep still seems to be hard to achieve. It is estimated that 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder... That's a lot of people walking around deprived of sleep!
Poor sleeping habits can affect your quality of life. Lack of energy, weight gain or weight loss, and emotional and mental imbalances are just a few of the scary ways your body can be affected if you're not catching enough z's at night. Even if you suffer from insomnia, work overnight shifts, or are jet lagged, you can still form healthy sleeping habits, aka "sleep hygiene," to make sure you wake up feeling rested and energized.
If you're someone who struggles to get adequate rest at night, follow these three (3) tips that can help you improve the quality of your good night's sleep.
1.) Control Your Exposure to Light
Overexposing yourself to light can decrease the production of melatonin in your body. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When melatonin production is decreased, it makes your mind more alert. If you have a hard time waking up in the morning, one of the best things you can do to wake up is get outside or near a window for some bright sunshine. Closer to bedtime, however, the darker you can make your sleeping space, the better.
Part of controlling your exposure to light is monitoring the blue light that enters your eyes. If you're having difficulties falling asleep, it could be that you have a little too much screen time right before bedtime. You may need to decrease your use of cell phones, computers, or television before you lay in bed. Some of these devices may come with a "blue light filter," which could help, but as a general rule of thumb, try to reserve your bed as a place for sleeping only. This will cut down on the amount of time you spend with screens and help to ramp up your body's ability to produce enough melatonin.
2.) Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Do you find yourself getting sleepy at the same time every night? That is because your body has its own sleep-wake cycle thanks to our good friend melatonin. When you don't wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, it can throw your body's natural sleep-wake cycle off balance. Sleeping in on the weekend might be something you look forward to all week, but it could also be affecting your day-to-day energy levels.
Experts state that simply sticking to the same schedule every day will help you wake up feeling more rested. If you like to nap, try to nap early or don't nap at all. If you're using napping as a way to make up for lack of sleep, you need to ensure you aren't overcompensating by oversleeping. It could be the cause of you not falling asleep at night. A good compromise is to take a "cat nap;" set an alarm for 20 minutes or less so that you can feel refreshed but still be able to fall asleep around your normal bedtime.
Watch What You Eat For Dinner
Eat lighter meals at dinner to avoid the dreaded "after meal drowsiness." Do you know that drowsy feeling you get after you eat a super heavy meal? For most Americans, we specifically think of how we feel after we eat our turkey with a healthy dose of Tryptophanfor our Thanksgiving meal. If you’re having a hard time falling or staying asleep at night, your last meal could be the culprit. Instead of eating a super heavy meal like pasta or pizza a few hours before bed, eat a lighter meal like a salad with a good protein and/or complex carbs like sweet potatoes.
Avoid eating spicy or acidic foods to close to bedtime. Laying down right after eating spicy food can cause indigestion and acid reflux, which can also keep you up at night. You can also try performing an activity like washing dishes or getting your stuff ready for work the next day so you don’t succumb to drowsiness.
3.) Keep Your Mind Clear
Are you finding yourself lying awake at night worried about the tasks you'll have to accomplish the next day? Stress and anxiety can definitely contribute to not getting enough sleep at night. Since your mental health greatly affects your physical health, it makes sense to try to decrease the amount of mental and emotional stress you may be dealing with. To combat this there are a couple of ways to decrease your stress right before bed:
1.) Yoga - Yoga is not only a great way to exercise, it is also a great way to decrease stress. Yoga helps you focus on your mental and emotional well-being by challenging you to be kinder to yourself and working on your mind/body connection. By training your nervous system’s natural responses to stress, you can naturally help decrease stress in your body, which could lead to more restful sleep.
2.) Journaling - Journaling is a great way to express your feelings in a healthy and therapeutic way. Writing out your to-do list or writing about your emotions can help you make better sense of what is going on in your head. You can try sticking to certain themes when journaling, like writing about what you’re grateful for, or utilizing "bullet [point] journaling" to help you stay organized. When it is done consistently, it is a very effective tool for managing your stress.
Tempting (but unhealthy) lifestyle habits can definitely affect how well you sleep at night, but with a few small adjustments, you can achieve a much healthier sleeping routine. Check out our Lavender scented candles and our other lavender-infused products to help you relax at night before you go to bed.