Good afternoon wellness warriors, today’s post is part 3 and the final post in our discussion about sleep. If you’re late joining the slumber party (pun intended), let me catch you up. A couple weeks ago, we discussed the importance of sleep, why we need it, and how to make sure we were getting enough of it. Last week, we discussed 3 simple tips for a better night’s sleep. After all, the quantity of sleep you’re getting is irrelevant if the quality of your snoozes isn’t great. A deep sleep will ensure you wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day.
Today we’re talking about getting you there faster. Tired of tossing and turning for hours? Or perhaps you hit the sac only to lie there with your eyes wide open feeling frustrated. So here are three tips to help you fall asleep faster. Couple these with the tips from the previous weeks and you have a night’s sleep any sandman would be jealous of.
Tip 1: Unplug from electronics 1 hour before bed
Unplug yourself from your electronic devices one hour before bed, that includes your phone, tablet, computer and TV. Last week we discussed how we are consuming too much artificial light which affects the secretion of melatonin. The blue light from electronic devices disrupts melatonin production/secretion and stimulates brain activity making it harder for you to fall asleep and affecting the quality of your sleep once you actually shut your eyes.
Often, we plug into our phones or lie in front of the TV until we feel tired and are ready to hit the bed. In my experience, when I do that, I tend to wake up shortly after, and repeatedly throughout the night. I wake up in the morning feeling exhausted, as If I never slept in the first place. While we may be exhausting our bodies while staying up and watching Netflix, we are simply distracting our mind and thoughts, but never giving our brains a chance to unwind. So, while our bodies may be tired, there is still a ping pong match going on inside our heads, making a deep sleep next to impossible.
Instead, try sitting down with a book an hour before bed and allow yourself time to unwind. Reading not your thing? Try a bubble bath, or use your hands and do something artsy. Have a conversation with a friend or loved one. Play with your kids or fur babies. Meditate or try some yoga poses to stretch out from the day and quite your mind.
Also, remove your cell phone from your night stand, even from the bedroom completely if possible. It’ll remove the temptation to check your notifications if you wake up in the middle of the night. Trust me, checking your Instagram likes can wait until morning. If you have an alarm clock, turn it so it’s not facing the bed. Watching the hours go by will increase anxiety and only promote additional insomnia.
Tip 2: Cut the caffeine and stimulants
The effects of caffeine and stimulants on your body can last anywhere from 4-6 hours after consumption. Even longer if you’re not a frequent coffee drinker or have a sensitivity to caffeine. We all process caffeine very differently. Myself, I only have a few cups a week and notice that drip or percolated coffee gives me the jitters. It’s caffeine content is higher that that of espresso or tea, and the effects on my body last much longer.
Cut out the caffeine starting early afternoon and switch to water or herbal tea. Especially if you’re having more than one coffee in the morning. The more cups you have the more compounded the effects are, and the longer it’ll take to leave your system. If you’re downing cup after cup because of a bad night’s sleep, you’re just fueling a vicious cycle. Switch to something that is lower in caffeine, will provide mental clarity, and not impact your ability to fall asleep hours later. Try green tea, matcha, or a blend of both.
By the way, alcohol is double agent. It’s a sedative and stimulant all wrapped up into one. So make “last call” a little earlier.
Tip 3: Create a sleep ritual
Our mind and body responds rapidly to routine and rituals. We create habits and mini rituals for different aspect of our days, the same can be done for sleep. Think of the play list you use to motivate yourself for a workout, the Friday night yoga class to help you unwind and transition into the weekend, the gratitude list you scribble into your journal every morning.
By creating a sleep ritual, we begin to send signals to our brain that its time to unwind and prepare for sleep.
Here are a few ideas. Find a body lotion with a soothing scent and use it only before bed. The action of applying it coupled with the smell will trigger your brain like pressing a button and starting a relaxation sequence. Bonus, this is something that’s portable which will make it easier to fall asleep when traveling and far from home.
Dim the lights or use an eye mask. Reducing our exposure to light in evening before bed will help promote the secretion of melatonin.
Use your bed/bedroom only for sleep, and well, fun stuff. Your bed shouldn’t be a place to sit with a tub of ice cream while watching Sex and the City, use the couch for that. Retrain your brain so that is knows its time to unwind and get ready for rest when you crawl into bed.
These are just a few ideas to help make your transition to sleep faster and easier. What will you incorporate into your sleep ritual? Where do you struggle when trying to get a good night’s sleep. Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and using my little corner of the internet to further your well-being. If any part of this was beneficial for you, and you feel it could positively impact someone else, I’d be honored if you’d share it.
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