A good night’s rest does wonders for the mind and body. Unfortunately, with the world as bright and noisy as it is, getting that good night’s sleep can be somewhat problematic. As a night owl myself, I know that getting those elusive 40 winks can some times take effort. So to help out my fellow life lovers, here are 10 tips to help you get to sleep.
1. Have a bedtime.
We’ve all had a point in our lives where we fought to stay awake for one reason or another. If you do only one thing to improve your sleep, it should be this: go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. And yes that includes your weekends. This goes double for those of us who are self-employed. A regular sleep routine keeps your biological clock running like…well clockwork. This allows you to rest better as your body and brain acclimate to the routine. In addition, exposure to a regular pattern of light and dark helps as your body naturally starts to produce melatonin in accordance with your body’s exposure to light, but we’ll get into that more later on.
2. Cut the Caffeine
Specifically you should avoid caffeine after lunch. That means coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Caffeine stays in your system for roughly 6-8 hours based on your metabolism. That means that a Starbucks run after dinner will either stop your brain from entering a deep sleep state or it’ll prevent you from falling asleep entirely, making the next day even harder to start up.
3. Create a bedtime routine.
Sleep does not have a switch. It does have a brake pedal. Setting your mind and body up for the transition from your active to inactive is fairly simple. Starting around about an hour before bed you want start getting ready. This is also a good way to setup a stress free morning.
Prep for tomorrow by setting out your clothes, prepping your lunch, packing your workbag, etc. Then run through your personal hygiene routine, while making sure you you’re yourself at least 15 to 20 minutes to settle into bed. This wind down allows you to progressively dial down on brain activity, making it easier to clock out for the night.
4. Last Call
A lot of people try to use alcohol as a sleep aid, myself included. It makes sense with alcohol being a depressant. Here’s the catch though. If you just go for a nightcap, you’re actually hindering your sleep even more. Just a few hours after drinking alcohol, you BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) start to drop, which in turn kick starts your body due to the absence of depressants in your system. The drowsiness that comes from alcohol isn’t natural, so your body fights it. Usually, it takes an average person about an hour to metabolize one drink, so if you have a glass of wine with dinner, make sure your finished at least an hour before you plan on hitting the sack.
5. Nighttime Nosh
The perfect bedtime snack combines carbs and a protein that contains the amino acid tryptophan. Studies show that this combo boosts serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical that, among other things, helps you feel calm. A light snack before you start your bedtime routine will give the amino acids time to reach your brain.
Here a few examples:
6. Dream Scents
Certain smells, such as lavender and chamomile are perfect scents to aid in relaxation and can help you sleep more soundly as well. Mixing a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle will let you get a great aroma spritz for your pillowcase. You could also get an oil diffuser for your nightstand to have the scent disperse through the whole room.
7. Sound of Sleep
Four out of our five senses play a part in relaxing the body and hearing is one of the most influential sense in that regard. I personally spent 6 months falling to sleep with the sound of jets taking off and landing just a few feet above my head, and to be honest it wasn’t a hard adjustment. For some the slightest noise could wake them out of what they believe to be a dead sleep. What we can and can’t tune out is mainly based on experiences, but there are still some commonalities. Personal sound machines are designed with those commonalities in mind. These devices are meant to help you sleep by producing a low-level binaural beat. We spoke about this in more detail in our Brainwave entrainment article about a year ago. These sounds can help you tune out the world around you and in some cases can guide your brain waves to a relaxed state on a subconscious level.
8. Get support
I used think all pillows were created equal. Then I slept on one of those $200 ergonomic alignment pillows. While I would never pay that much for a pillow, I could definitely feel the difference. Then I found out that it wasn’t the pillow itself, but rather what the pillow did that made it feel so amazing. The perfect pillow is one that will keep your spine and neck in a straight line to avoid tension and cramps. Next time you lay down, check the alignment between your head and neck when you're in your starting sleep position. If your neck is flexed position rather than straight, you should see about getting a pillow that lets your neck naturally line up. For those of us that are stomach sleepers, using either no pillow or a very flat one can help keep your neck and spine straight.
9. Set the Temp
The ideal temperature for your body when at rest is between 65° and 75°F. This is a good guideline, but when setting your thermostat, take into consideration how you’ll feel once you’re under the covers. Also, a drop in body temperature signals the body to produce melatonin, which in turn induces sleep. That's why it's also a good idea to take a warm bath or hot shower before bed. For optimal rest, once you've settled in to bed, you should feel like Goldilocks. Not too cold or too hot—but just right.
10. Lights out!
Weather it’s the glow from your laptop on the nightstand, or the light from your tablet as you read your favorite e-book, light passing through your retina sends a strong signal to your hypothalamus—the part of your brain that controls sleep. Even if your eyes are closed, light can still reach your brain, inhibiting your brain’s ability to produce melatonin. So getting the room as dark as possible can greatly aid in you getting to sleep quickly and soundly.
There is no one size fits all method to helping you get to sleep soundly, but these tips are some of the best ways to help you set yourself up for a good nights rest. What do you guys do to help you catch some zzz’s? Let us know in the comments and be sure to share and subscribe for more content.