In an ideal world, we would sleep for one-third of our lives; however, an increasing number of people wake up feeling drained rather than refreshed. The amount of sleep we get affects our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as the rate at which our bodies heal.
However, because so many of us are rushing through our daily to-do lists, it can be difficult to wind down at the end of each day. If you have trouble falling asleep, waking up several times during the night, or don’t feel refreshed after a night’s sleep, implementing these seven healthy habits can help you achieve restorative sleep and fall asleep faster.
1. Always go to bed at the same time every night
Establishing a bedtime routine will aid in the regulation of your sleep hormones, allowing you to not only fall asleep faster but also wake up feeling refreshed. Because your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol begins around 2 a.m., it is recommended that you go to bed before midnight.
If you stay up past midnight, you may feel a “second wind,” but this is due to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. The best time to sleep is generally agreed to be between the hours of ten at night and six in the morning. If you can’t fall asleep once you’re in bed, make the room dimly lit and take some time to write down everything that’s going through your mind. This may assist you in falling asleep. Writing down your thoughts can help you to distance yourself from them, allowing your mind and body to relax.
2. Observe the sunrise every morning
Place yourself in a location where you will be illuminated by natural light as soon as the sun rises. Light suppresses the hormone that causes us to sleep, melatonin, while it increases the hormone that causes us to be happy and calm, serotonin.
This occurs when we are simply watching the sunrise, going outside, or taking a walk in the sun. Both the natural decrease in melatonin and the natural increase in serotonin help to regulate the natural rise and fall of cortisol, ensuring that it peaks in the morning and then gradually declines throughout the day.
3. Limit your exposure to blue light for at least two hours before bedtime
Blue light from electronic devices such as phones, computers, and televisions reduces the amount of melatonin produced by our bodies, making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Exposing yourself to blue light before bedtime through activities such as texting, reading an electronic book, or watching television may reduce the quality of your sleep.
The natural dim light emitted by lamps and candles may be a gentler way to unwind and prepare for sleep, allowing us to reconnect with our circadian rhythm. Take a break from your electronic devices in the evening to make a nutritious beverage or snack, read a book, or spend quality time with someone important in your life. Because our brains are very active during the day, it is important to remember that you need some downtime before you can sleep.
4. Try to limit your intake of stimulants after lunch
Have you ever thought about how your afternoon habit of grabbing a caffeine-based energy boost might affect how you feel in the evening? You should if you are someone who does this. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, which means it takes that long for the body to eliminate one-half of the caffeine in your system.
This means that the coffee that gave you the energy boost you needed at 3:30 p.m. is now keeping you awake at night and preventing you from falling asleep. While it may appear that alcohol aids in sleep, the reality is that alcohol dehydrates the body and prevents it from entering the restorative REM stage of sleep. Drinking both coffee and alcohol may seem like a good idea at the time, but because they are both stimulants, your body may become dependent on them. That seemingly innocuous cup of coffee or wine you had today might be the reason you reach for another one the next day.
5. Magnesium, the best-kept military secret in the world
It should come as no surprise that people who suffer from insomnia frequently have a lack of magnesium, which plays an important role in the regulation of our stress-response system.
Magnesium aids in the regulation of our bodies’ response to stress. Magnesium has been shown to alleviate anxiety and relax tense muscles. It also regulates the neurotransmitters that control sleep. For sleep to be restorative, the part of the nervous system responsible for rest and digestion must be active. Magnesium assists us in breaking free from the “fight or flight” response, which causes our heart rate to slow and our breathing to become more normal, resulting in more restorative sleep.
6. Eat dinner earlier in the evening and avoid late-night snacks whenever possible
Do you ever get hungry in the middle of the night? This is your body’s way of signaling that it is time for you to sleep. Eating late at night raises blood sugar levels, which causes blood sugar levels to drop suddenly during sleep, stimulating the release of cortisol, which awakens us.
Because the gut produces approximately 80% of serotonin, maintaining good gut health is critical for getting a good night’s sleep. By maintaining a regular eating schedule in the evenings and avoiding overeating, we can improve our ability to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.
7. Create an evening routine based on your needs and routines
Spraying essential oils on your pillow, lighting a candle as the sun sets, taking a relaxing bath, or writing in a gratitude journal before bed can help you get more restorative sleep. These are just a few examples of what you can do.
If you have younger children, lighting candles or using an essential oil diffuser is a great way to help them wind down for the evening and signal that it is almost time for bed. The most important thing is to find a tradition that you and your family can successfully carry out.
Getting enough sleep each night is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Many of us make decisions throughout the day that will affect the quality of sleep we get that evening, but we are frequently unaware of how these decisions will shape our sleep.
If you make it a habit to engage in evening practice and improve the decisions you make during the day, you will be able to relax, unwind, and give your body the opportunity to get ready for a good night’s sleep. It’s an incredible feeling to wake up feeling revitalized, refreshed, and ready to tackle the day ahead.