Many wellness professionals have determined that sleep health may help more with overall health than exercise and diet combined! If you’re ready to start increasing your sleep health, check out the following seven steps!
Take a nap if you need it
Make it super dark
Use airplane mode
Create a calming routine
Keep a notepad by your bedside
Minimize your bedroom clutter
Please, take a nap if you’re tired… it won’t make you tired in the long run. It may leave you feeling a little groggy but it’s much better to take a short catnap then to fend off sleep for another couple of hours. In fact, studies have shown that the kind of sleep you were missing the previous evening is the kind of sleep you will get when you take a nap. Naps will help you stop creating a sleep deficit and reset your sleep clock, so you can arrive at your pillow a little more rested and ready to get a fuller night of zzzzzs!
Get the light out of your room…all of it: even the blinking lights on your cell phones or plugged in cords. If you can see your hand waving in front of your face, there’s too much light in your room. Studies have shown that our eyelids can sense light even when closed and that our bodies can sense light even if our eyes aren’t open So it’s not just about wearing an eye mask to bed, the light actually needs to be out of the room.
So by using blackout curtains or shades and getting rid of all other light sources, you are signaling to your body that it is time to let go and get some sleep. Full disclosure, my black out shades are coming soon but I’m convinced it will definitely help get full sleep!
Unplug from your phone, laptop and tablet at least two hours before you want to be asleep, not just two hours before going to bed. If this isn’t possible, using an app like Twilight or turning on the blue screen filter on the phone will help to cut down on the emitted rays that make our bodies go into overdrive.
Full disclosure on this one too…I read from my tablet a lot in the evening but the “shade” feature is always activated. I never usually shut it off, this way I never have to remember to use the feature and on my cell phone, the app I use is synced with the sun rising and setting. Two more things to help have a good night sleep that I don’t have to think about!
Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMFs) are emitted via our phones and through virtually any electronics that we use. It’s unknown what impact these frequencies have on our long term health but they have been shown to interfere with our sleeping patterns. Furthermore because we are bombarded with these frequencies all day, If nothing more, we could have eight hours when we’re sleeping to give our bodies a break. One way to do this is to keep our electronics out of the bedroom. Another way to do it is to just get in the habit of putting our phones on airplane mode each evening before bed.
By doing this you’re not only limiting those EMFs while you sleep but also your device is rendered a little less fun every evening because you can’t spend 45 minutes before bed mindlessly scrolling social media (of course I’m not speaking from personal experience!).
Just like morning time benefits from some kind of routine, your evening routine is a perfect time to create some consistency so that your body gets signaled in advance that it’s getting closer to bed. If your days are vastly different, is there something small you can do consistently to cue your body that it’s getting closer to winding down? Perhaps it’s an evening shower, a favorite pair of pajamas or turning on an essential oil diffuser with a great relaxing blend, like lavender or sweet orange. It doesn’t need to be something that you add to your day, it’s about being deliberate about routine so that your body knows that it’s in wind down mode.
And remember, try to avoid having part of your calming routine include climbing into bed to do work, be on your phone or watch TV. Try it, it may just work!
If your trouble sleeping is caused by incessant mind chatter, keep a notebook by your bedside. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been struck awake by the world’s greatest idea (or I had to pee…or both) and I don’t easily fall back asleep because I know I will forget the brilliance that just passed through my brain. What I discovered is having a little notepad by my bed allowed me to quickly scratch down the notes of what I was thinking about and then I could rest more easily. Just try using the flashlight app on your phone or just write it blindly in the dark. It’s always fun to try to decipher the chicken scratch that you wrote the previous eventing! The last thing you want to do is to turn on any lights in the middle of the night.
The notepad also works well before going to sleep to write down last minute to dos for the following day. Then I just scribble them all down and try to let them go until the morning.
If you’re still having trouble getting enough sleep, take a look around your bedroom to see if there are some places you could declutter so that your room feels light when you go to sleep. The last thing you need when trying to fall asleep is to look at a pile of bills, papers that need filed and a wash basket full of laundry. So take a little time and see if you can at least create some peace on your side of the bedroom. Just the act of moving the old out may allow you to rest a little easier.
So try one or more of these simple steps and see if you can increase your sleep health! You may begin to improve more aspects of your life than you could have ever imagined.