People have a tenancy to undervalue sleep.
If you’ve seen Arianna Huffington’s book, “Thrive” you know what I’m talking about. She accounts what it’s like to work constantly at the expense of your body and sleep—to accomplish more. The thesis of the book is that we can accomplish more, while having enough time to sleep and do the other healthful tasks that keep our bodies in balance.
We each have a strategy to go to sleep and wake up. If you you’re not sure what your strategy is, just literally document what you do every morning when you wake up, and every evening when you go to sleep. This is the recipe for the results you’re currently receiving.
If you go to sleep stressed out, you’ll wake up stressed out.
Not only that but, your quality of sleep will be low. You probably won’t wake up with energy or well-rested. Thinking heavily before you go to sleep isn’t healthy. If you can’t stop thinking wildly about what’s not working for you and what you have to do this week, you won’t be able to rest.
Have lots of things on your mind? Keep a notebook by your bedside to write it all out before you go to sleep.
There are other things that contribute to how well you sleep. For instance, the time you go to bed, and the time you wake up are actually important. I spent the majority of my life going to bed after midnight, waking up at around 9 or 10 am. This is totally “normal,” but goes against the natural biology of the human body.
I’ll get to more of this in a moment.
Have you heard of the circadian rhythm? It’s part of our natural body clock. I can hear you—clock!? what!? Yes, our bodies have a natural “clock” that biologically determines the best times to sleep, eat, etc. The closer you are to your biological clock, the more balanced you’ll be.
Essentially, our biological clocks dictate that going to sleep around 10:00pm is the best time, and waking up around 6:00 am for optimal energy.
I didn’t believe it— until I started getting to sleep by 10, and getting up at 6. It actually (and surprisingly to me!) made a huge difference. After doing this for a week or so, I found that it was easy to get up early (for someone that wouldn’t get out of bed before 8a). I also noticed that the difference in how I felt when I woke up changed if I went to bed at 11pm or 12pm. I was more groggy and not necessarily chipper when waking.
It helped for me, so I’m happy to share. If you’re truly a night person and can’t make it happen power to ya. However, if you’re thinking about taking your sleep heath to the next level and want to try it out- do it!
#1 Create a Nighttime Routine
Preparing to go to sleep actually helps you sleep better. Create a routine for the evening that slows you down and gives you relaxing vibes. Popular writer and entrepreneur, Tim Ferris says that he drinks tea, reads and takes a bath to unwind every night and prepare himself for sleeping.
I like to listen to meditation music, throw peppermint & lavender into my aromatherapy diffuser, and meditate and/or read. I like showering at night too as it keeps me relaxed and ready for bed.
Get in the habit of creating a routine—it’s a strategy that prepares you for sleep. Then do this every day for a month so you create a habit out of it.
#2 Get Off Your Phone or Computer at least 1 Hour Before Bed
The blue glow of the computer or your phone messes with your biological clock. If you’re staring at your phone right before you nod off to la-la-land, you’re signaling to your brain that it’s not nighttime. The color of the light in the phone simulates daylight and throws off your biological rhythm.
Get off all electronic devices at least one hour before you get to sleep, if not 2 hours. This will help prepare you for healthy sleep and allow you to relax naturally.
#3 Go to Bed & Wake Up at the Same Time
When you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, you create a natural rhythm for your body to follow. Erratic sleep habits & sleep times will result in not getting a good night’s rest. If you create timing habits, your mind and body will naturally wind down every night before bed.
#4 Avoid Eating Before You Sleep
When you eat, your fluxing your body likely with carbs and sugar. Can you guess what this will do before you go to sleep? Carbs turn into sugar that give you energy and keep you up instead of allowing you to start winding down. If you’re really hungry, keep your snacks to fat (that won’t spike your insulin and keep you awake).
#5 Think of Really Positive Things Before You Sleep
Your brain contemplates the last 2 hours of content that you think about before you go to sleep, all night. This is true especially for the last 5-10 minutes before you fall asleep. I’ve found that if I run through a mental gratitude list before I fall asleep that I noticeably wake up in a much better mood than otherwise.
Spend a few minutes every night contemplating positive things, and/or visualizing your goals.
#6 Use Sleep Apps
My favorite sleep app is Sleep Cycle. I use it literally every night. Essentially, it monitors your movements through your phone to track how you’re sleeping. The more movements mean you’re restless, and the less mean you’re in REM sleep. You set the time you’d like to wake up in the app, and it wakes you up before that time when you leave a REM cycle.
Have you ever woken up groggy? You received plenty of sleep so you can’t understand why you’re so sleepy? Usually it’s a result of waking up at the wrong time—ie. in the middle of deep sleep. This app prevents that feeling by gently waking you up when you’re ready to wake up!
This is helpful and convenient because the app detects when you’re already waking up and helps you wake up fully. It plays a musical alarm quietly, that steadily becomes louder, making it gentle. Say goodbye to those honking, obnoxious alarms.
#7 Practice Meditation
Meditation can take some time to learn, but you can use apps to hack-it. Headspace is a popular meditation app with a great meditation selection. Mostly this is the time for you to decompress your mind of all the thoughts and clutter from the day.
Another alternative to meditation is journaling. Write out everything you can think of for the day to get it out of your head.
#8 Manage Stress to Not Disrupt Sleep
Stress takes a serious toll on the body, and your sleep. Managing stress is probably easier said than done. Either way, it’s incredibly important to create effective routines and habits that help to manage your stress levels throughout the day.
#9 Reduce Overall Caffeine Intake
In the United States especially, we think coffee is a source of energy. It’s found on every corner and is widely available in every office, usually for free. As a result, Americans pound cups of joe all day to counter sleepiness and to “be more productive.”
Here are some things about caffeine that maybe you didn’t know…
- Caffeine riestricts your muscles to tighten (often tightening neck and shoulder muscles that cause headaches and back problems)
- Caffeine is highly addictive with withdrawl symptoms
- Having a constant stimulant drip to your brain and body causes a complete reliant on the stimulant to stimulate your adrenal glands
- It’s incredibly easy to throw your entire body out of homeostasis by blowing out your adrenal glands (by having more caffeine than your body can handle, that leads to you having trouble getting to sleep, and waking up)
#10 Exercise in the Morning
There are loads of studies that show exercising in the morning gives you energy all day, and helps you sleep soundly at night.
It also is a sustainable way to receive your morning energy. Rather than slugging back a cup of coffee, consider doing a 10-minute HIT training session. Ten minutes can do the world a difference.
#11 De-clutter Your Sleep Environment
Plainly, clutter is distracting. Your room is meant to be the little sanctuary where you recharge and sleep. Keep your room clean and clutter-free. Remove any piles of cloths and put everything away and out of sight that you can.
Place some attention into your bedding. Ultimately, if your bed looks uber-comfortable, you’ll look forward to going to bed. This means that you’ll get to bed earlier, and nod off to dream state in a great mood because you look forward to getting into your bed!
#12 Place Your Phone on Airplane Mode Before You Hit the Hay
Microwaves and radiation leak from your cell phone while you sleep if it’s turned on. This can disrupt your REM cycles and sleep heath. Not only that, but when that friend drunk-texts you at 4am, you won’t be happy.
Turn your phone onto “airplane mode” before you go to sleep. This way you can leave your phone on, but the microwaves won’t disrupt your sleep or brain health. In fact, also make sure to place your phone in another room. It’s not great to have electronics really anywhere near you when you’re sleeping. I’ve started placing my phone in the living room, and it makes me be more present before I go to bed too, keeping me from getting distracted perusing Instagram. ><
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Have more sleep-related tips to add? Try any of these? Let us know in the comments!