Shorter days are upon us and the time to hunker down and cuddle up in cooler weather is here. With the onset of early darkness comes the opportunity to focus on getting more satisfying and rejuvenating sleep.
As a recovered insomniac I understand how debilitating it is to miss out on a good night's sleep and I've experienced all of the negative side effects it has on mental and physical health. The good news is that there are many simple hacks you can do that will allow you to have consistent, rejuvenating, quality sleep.
The benefits of sleep are incredible. Sleep is our body's time to recover from everything it did for us during the day and has been show to:
assist with weight loss
increase athletic performance
improve concentration and memory
increase cell repair
decrease risk of Type 2 Diabetes
decrease the risk of depression
improve immune system function
improve social skills
22 Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep
Make your bedroom all about sleep- and that's it. No TV, no work, no eating. Just sleep.
Treat yourself to a comfortable mattress and pillows. You spend a majority of your life in bed- make it as pleasant and soothing as possible.
Snuggle under a weighted blanket. I have the Gravity Blanket and love it. Weighted blankets have been shown to reduce anxiety, improve sleep and are amazingly cozy.
Increase sunlight exposure during the day.
Download flux to your computer which will give your screen an amber glow when the sun sets.
Get black out curtains to block out the artificial light from surrounding buildings, cars and street lights. All electric light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland and production of melatonin which is responsible for a deep and restful sleep.
Diffuse calming essential oils such as lavender, or chamomile.
Get into a sleep pattern. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends.
Try to go to sleep and wake up with the sun. If this is not happening, aim to get into bed before 10 pm and rise around 6 am or 7 am.
Exercise daily, but not close to bed time. Exercising in the daylight is ideal.
Limit or avoid refined sugar and processed foods.
Avoid eating a large meal several hours before bed.
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, it may be a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. Try having a small fat or protein snack before bed like a few bites of chicken, or a small spoonful of coconut oil.
Journal or make a list of things to do the following day before bed to clear your brain.
Write down the things you are grateful for.
Keep a pen and paper next to your bed in case you wake up with thoughts that you need to get out. Writing them down will clear your head and allow you to fall back to sleep.
Meditation is a powerful tool for obtaining health, both physical and mental. It helps you sleep, be present, manage stress, feel grounded...the list goes and on. Yet so many people feel intimidated by it. Meditation does not have to be a huge affair with candles and hours of silence in front of a giant Buddha statue (although that would be lovely). Just sitting still and focusing on your breath for 5 minutes a day can have profound effects
Hot baths before bed—take a 15 minute hot bath about 90 minutes before bed. Add one or two cups of Epsom salt along with a calming essential oil such as lavender or chamomile.
And don't forget about the power of a good nap. Napping is the perfect way to refresh and replenish. The length of time you nap also has different effects on your brain. 10-20 minutes or 90 minutes seem to be the sweet spots.