It’s nearly impossible to give your all to the day without a good nights’ rest. Whereas a good night’s sleep comes with loads of benefits, poor sleep can cause similarly innumerable symptoms. Consistent nights of tossing and turning can lead to short-term memory loss, irritability, concentration issues, weight gain, high blood pressure, low sex drive, and even puts you at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease. In summary, it’s important to get the right amount of quality sleep each night. But you knew that. Most of us do.
However, some of us aren’t aware of the easy remedies for that ever-elusive trip to dreamland. Though you should bring any and all abnormal conditions to the attention of your doctor, we’ve compiled a shortlist of simple tricks and tips that may help you get your sleep schedule back on track. They’re free, simple, and best of all you can try them all today.
1. Keep a Consistent Schedule
One of the most overlooked issues that thwart our sleep is the natural erraticism of any given day. When we allow our lives to run rampant without any consistency, we’re opening the door to chemical imbalances, stress, anxiety, and a general aversion to routine. Don’t let this get you down.
Most of us have trouble syncing with schedules that can handle our daily grind. Though the ultimate goal is to establish a sense of regularity for waking up, eating, winding down, and sleeping, you shouldn’t let the idea intimidate you. Start small, with a simple ‘wake up’ and ‘sleep’ routine that can generally encompass your day. Once you’ve got those times down, the rest becomes easier to manage.
Did you know that regular exercise can drastically improve your sleep? In addition to improving circulation, a simple 30-minute workout each day (or every other day) can reduce stress, anxiety, and tension which allows for post-workout bliss.
When we commit ourselves to a brisk workout, we’re forcing our body to use up stored energy. This, in turn, raises our body temperature--expending excess energy. The post-workout drop in body temp gives us that drowsy and depleted feeling, promoting that sweet sail-off to the sandman. Additionally, regular exercise promotes sleep by positively impacting your circadian rhythm--reducing insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Even in a pinch, a few short minutes of exercise could save your sweet dreams.
3. Avoid Naps
If exercise is the key then (relatively speaking) mid-day naps are gum in the lock. Though always enticing at the moment, prolonged naps compromise your ability to fall asleep later on by diminishing your sleep drive and confusing your circadian rhythm. Simply put, your body is a clock and naps are the reset button--no matter the time of day.
Unless you’ve got a reason to jumble up your sleep and waking hours, it’s recommended to keep a normal sleep schedule and reserve that ‘tired feeling’ for bedtime. Should you find yourself with no option, try to plan your nap several hours in advance of bedtime and try to only allow for 45-minutes at most. It’s rarely worth it to trade a good nights’ sleep for short-term relief.
4. Practice a Bedtime Ritual
It’s not uncommon to relish in our “free time.” Some of us will take those post-work hours to cram in as much activity as we can. However, without allowing our bodies to wind down, especially if we’ve napped, sleep can feel impossible. Our bodies crave routine and with routine comes chemical signals of behavior.
Once you’ve selected an appropriate time for bed, take an hour or so beforehand to do something calming that signals your body that ‘night-night’ is fast approaching. In lieu of social media, shows, and shots try reading a book, prepare for the next day, or do pretty much anything that relaxes you. Though it may take some getting used to, after a few weeks (or days) this ritual will become your metronome for relaxation.
5. Take Inventory of Your Bedtime Habits
While we’re on the subject, it’s important to consider your bed-time habits when you’re restless at night. Do you sit up and work until you can’t focus? Do you binge-watch until the show’s watching you? Are you a victim of the infinite social media scroll?
Eschew the bad sleep habits and instead commit yourself to some light yoga, stretching, reading, or simple meditation. Limit yourself to water or tea within two hours of laying down and take inventory of your activity within that time frame. You may be surprised at what stimuli acts as a fiendish force that keeps your brain running at daytime speed.
6. Assess Your Sleep Space
Where you sleep is just as important as your routine and diet throughout the day. Whether it’s a worn out and springy mattress, old sheets or blankets, lumpy pillows, or even just clutter--your sleep space matters and without the proper care, you may find yourself howling at the moon.
Instead of putting off the needed changes, take the time to purchase a mattress pad, new linens, and pillows, sheets, and blankets, etc., to improve your nightly rest (and don’t forget to clear that clutter). Without paying proper attention to your sleep space, comfort may just slip through your fingers. Remember, when it comes to sleep, comfort is king.
Pro-Tip: You can find everything you need for the perfect nights’ sleep right here, at Great Bay Home. Feel free to choose from our wide selection of blankets and other bedding products.
7. Be Mindful of the Lighting
Dating back to the Stone-Age, human beings have relied on the Sun to dictate our sleep and waking hours. In the age of technology, our celestial star acts as more of a suggestion than an obligatory command. Due to this, it’s up to us to take control. If you happen to have bright lights in your bedroom and have a habit of keeping them on until the last minute, it may be disrupting your sleep.
Constant exposure to artificial light tricks our minds into thinking it’s still daytime. This throws off our circadian rhythm and keeps us in a wakeful state, despite our desire for sleep. To ease this issue try investing in a dimmer switch, smart-bulbs with color settings, or simply keep your bedroom lamps stocked with standard low-voltage bulbs. The decreased light exposure doesn’t just set the mood, it prepares your body and mind for proper rest and recovery.
8. Avoid Nicotine, Caffeine, and Late-night Snacks
Though the idea may seem unthinkable the stimulants that we consume within an hour of bedtime often correlate directly with our sleep issues. Whether it’s that last-minute hit of nicotine, too much coffee, or simply a snack that we couldn’t resist, they all play a role in our overstimulation and wakefulness, which is precisely what we don’t want to do.
Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol within two hours of bedtime to prevent shifting your body into action-mode. Instead, try water or some chamomile tea to get you over that final hump of the day. A good rule of thumb is: if you consume it to stay awake, it’ll keep you up at night. It’s wise to avoid these vices around bedtime.
9. Don’t Toss & Turn
Admittedly, this one is anti-instinctual but remains as true as all others on this list. Regardless of how ‘comfy and cozy’ your sheets are, the purpose is defeated if you find yourself flailing around the bed for hours on end. In addition to the psychological anguish we face, toiling in thoughts of existential mutiny, we’re harming the mental association between the bed and sleep.
Rather than attempt to think your way into a good nights’ rest, get up and walk around for a bit. You don’t have to run a marathon or anything extreme but a light stretch, some fresh air, and a few extra moments to clear the days clutter from your mind may be the turning point that you least expected. This final burst of decompression allows you a second-attempt at winding down, slows your heart rate, and promotes the release of serotonin--mother nature’s natural sleeping pill.
10. Talk to Your Doctor
If all else fails (and we can’t stress this enough) make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms as well as any potential remedies. Though holistic solutions may work for some, other instances of sleep-deprivation may be caused by a number of underlying medical issues. In most cases, the solution is simple. However, it’s always best to be sure.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this list of better-sleep tips and tricks. Always remember that nothing beats a good night's sleep and we’re always at our best when we’re taking optimal care of ourselves. No need to thank us.
We’ve always got you covered.
Until Next Time,