As you start to reflect on 2018 and start resolving to make 2019 different in some way, consider resolving to sleep better. It’s a simple change on the surface, but sleep affects all aspects of our lives and our health. You may also find that better sleep will be the answer to other resolutions you have in mind like losing weight or a goal to run a half marathon.
But how can you achieve better sleep?
Your sleep environment has a big impact on your quality of sleep. A cool, quiet room is more conducive for sleep than the alternative. The darker the room the better as well. Make sure your bed is comfortable. This starts with your mattress and pillow, but also includes your bedding. If your mattress is over eight years old, it is time to buy a new one. Your pillow should help keep your neck and back in alignment. Depending on how you sleep will determine what kind of pillow will best provide proper alignment. Try not to work, watch TV, or use your computer in bed. If your brain associates these activities with your bedroom, then it will be harder to wind down at night.
What you do during the day affects how you sleep as well. Expose yourself to daylight and other bright lights only during the day if possible. This will keep your body and mind more awake and alert during waking hours. Exercise earlier in the day. If you exercise too close to your bed time, this can affect your ability to relax. Exercise in general promotes better sleep, but it can take a few months to feel the full effects of your exercise habit. Be smart about what you’re eating and drinking. Healthier foods that do not have sugar and refined carbs allow your body to achieve deep restorative sleep as they help stabilize your hormone levels. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, so limiting (or eliminating) your intake of both will allow you relax more at bedtime. Avoid big meals and alcohol at night. When your body is working to digest a large amount of food or heavy, rich foods, it is not as settled as it normally is while sleeping. Alcohol interferes with your sleep cycle and does not help you relax like you may think.
Sticking to a nighttime routine is as beneficial for adults as it is for kids. Doing the same things each night in the same order signals your brain that it is time for sleep. Limiting all screen time before bed and stopping completely at least an hour before you fall asleep will minimize the effect of blue light. Implement relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualizing a peaceful, restful place.
What other tips do you have for restful and restorative sleep?