10 Easy & Effective Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
The best ways to get a better night’s sleep are unique to everyone. How much sleep we need and the best routines to have depend on factors such as age, genetics, diet, and environment. That said, studies have shown that people who sleep at least seven hours a night live longer and are generally healthier than those who skimp on it. In fact, given that we spend around one-third of our lives catching zzz’s, routinely getting poor sleep can be a major issue and lead to elevated chances of developing certain conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Only you know how much sleep you need, and the easiest way to assess what’s best for you is to routinely check in with yourself. Listen to your body, ask yourself how you feel – do you feel tired? Full of energy? Are there certain things you do or don’t do that directly affect your sleep?
Here are my best tips for getting a better night’s sleep!
Get Enough Exercise
One of the simplest things you can do every day to boost your chances of a good night’s sleep is to get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise.
That said, because exercise boosts your metabolism and pumps up the hormone cortisol, it’s best to not exercise too close to bedtime. Try to finish any vigorous workouts at least three hours before you hit the hay.
Cut the Caffeine
I get it, caffeine can be a tough habit to cut back on, but that afternoon or early evening cup of joe can really wreak havoc on your ability to sleep. Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, and it’s estimated that it stays in your blood around 6-8 hours after consumption.
Based on this, try to nix the caffeine at least half a day before bedtime, or, if it’s a habit you just can’t quit – make it decaf!
Your body’s circadian rhythm naturally aligns itself with sunrise and sunset, meaning that it has the inclination to fall asleep when it’s dark and wake up when the sun comes out. While it’s not always practical to follow this pattern perfectly, being consistent with your sleep schedule and putting your head on the pillow at the same time every day will go a long way in keeping your sleep regular.
Don’t Snack Before Bed
Studies have shown that eating late at night disrupts your regular production of melatonin and kickstarts your metabolism, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
For the best sleep results, it’s best to have your last meal at least 3-4 hours before bedtime.
Eat Whole Food Meals
Diet plays a big role in sleep patterns, as it does in almost all areas of your life. For the best sleep results, eat balanced, home-cooked, whole-food meals free of too much sugar, trans fats, and preservatives.
Of course, it’s best to talk to your doctor or naturopath about the best diet for you!
Optimize Your Sleeping Environment
It’s believed that a great bedroom environment is a huge factor in getting a good night sleep. Not only does this relate to the quality of your mattress, pillows, and sheets, but studies also show that external noise, light, and temperature all play a role in how many zzz’s you get.
For the best sleep results, you’ll want to cut out all light and noise and keep the temperature in your bedroom nice and cool, but not too cold.
Putting down your smartphone and powering down the laptop at least an hour before bed will help keep your circadian rhythm regular. These devices emit blue light which tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, meaning your body doesn’t release melatonin as it should.
If powering down before bed isn’t an option for you, then think about investing in some blue-light blocking glasses, install apps on your phone that change the light emitted, and set your phone to block all notifications after a specified time.
Manage Your Stress
Stress is often cited as one of the biggest causes of restless sleep, and yet there are things you can do to calm your mind before bed. If there’s something in particular causing you stress, then write out all your thoughts about it in a journal, work through the issue with a professional, or decide if there’s something you can do about the situation to make it better.
If the situation is out of your control, then try a few techniques to help calm yourself such as deep breathing, meditation, or reading a book.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Having even just a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your melatonin production, and studies have shown that alcohol consumption decreases your natural HGH (Human Growth Hormone), which helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
Keep a Sleep Diary
If you’ve tried all the tips listed above and still aren’t able to sleep on a consistent basis, then I recommend starting a sleep diary.
Every single day, write down your sleeping habits – how many hours you think you got, when you first went to bed, when you woke up, etc. This is a great tool to not only discover patterns in your sleeping habits but also to take to your health care practitioner to find out if there is a deeper issue going on.
We hope you enjoyed this article and as always, we love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments if you’ve got a sleep tip that we’ve missed, or if any of these habits have helped you get more zzz’s.