By Adrian Sparrow
Without sleep, our bodies can’t keep up with the daily demands of life. We need time to rest and let the body repair itself. When falling or staying asleep seems impossible, here are a few tricks to help you get quality sleep and wake up refreshed.
Prepare Your Body for Sleep
Your body isn’t designed to immediately switch itself from ‘on’ to ‘off’. Just the act of falling asleep can take up to 30 minutes or more, and that’s after you’re in bed. Having a nightly routine can help your body ‘wind down’ and get ready for sleep before you crawl under the covers.
-Avoid stimulants in the evening, such as coffee, black and green teas, and tobacco products as they can make it harder to fall asleep or sleep deeply. Alcohol can also interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep.
-Exercise, but avoid rigorous physical activity too close to bedtime. The release of endorphins can wake people up and make it hard to fall asleep. Keep exercise light in the evening.
-Do gentle, calming activities to reduce stress and unwind. Reading, meditation, and light stretching are great ways to relax and slow your heartbeat. Try journaling to lessen anxious thinking. Focus on your breathing, and recognize when your body needs to de-stress.
-Drink chamomile tea or hot milk. Chamomile contains substances that can relax the mind, and lessens the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Milk contains tryptophan and melatonin, which are both compounds that play roles in relaxation. Warm drinks can also have calming effects over cold drinks but this depends on the individual.
-Avoid blue light late at night. Exposure to blue light from electronics before bed can make your brain still think it’s daytime, and you stay awake and more alert. Consider using special glasses and computer filters (either in your device’s default accessibility settings, or downloaded online) to block blue light. Schedule downtime from your electronics before and during bedtime so you can reduce both blue light and tempting distractions, and give yourself a better chance at high-quality sleep.
–Take vitamin D. Recent studies have shown a link between vitamin D deficiency and sleep disorders. Vitamin D is created by your skin in the sunlight, and few foods naturally contain it, including salmon, tuna, egg yolk, orange juice, and milks fortified with vitamin D. Consider taking cod oil or a daily vitamin supplement to support your bones AND help you sleep.
Optimize Your Bedroom
-Sleep in complete darkness. Any light that reaches your eyes signals the brain to lower melatonin production and wake up. Turn your alarm clock away from your face while you sleep. Use blackout curtains if you work nights or the sun otherwise interrupts your circadian cycle.
-Sleep in a cool, quiet room. It’s easier for your body to fall asleep in a cool environment free from distracting noises. Wear earplugs if noise keeps or wakes you up. Some people prefer to sleep with ambient sounds like white noise or beach waves.
-Listen to a bedtime story. Calm and relaxing stories can help you take your mind off stressful thinking and even reduce cortisol levels, leading to a more relaxed body and mind for sleep.
-Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. When your body’s natural circadian rhythm is regularly interrupted by staying up or sleeping late, you end up feeling groggy instead of refreshed.