Quality sleep is essential for us to perform our best during the day. Here are 5 simple tips to improve the quality of your sleep and the thought behind them.
1. Minimize light and sound
Our bodies operate in a 24-hour cycle called the Circadian Rhythm. Our internal clocks determine what time it is and send signals that it’s time to sleep based on external stimuli such as light and noise. Blocking out sunlight is relatively easy (especially at night!). In general, all you need to do is close the blinds. What has become increasingly difficult for people is artificial light sources that disrupt our Circadian Rhythm and confuse our bodies. These can range from things as large as a television to a computer screen to something as small as a phone screen. To achieve optimal rest, it is recommended that you make your bedroom a screen-free refuge. Any screen time before bed can have a negative effect on your sleep quality.
2. Create a comfortable atmosphere
In order to maximize the quality of your sleep, it is important that you be completely comfortable throughout the night. Make sure that you keep a call temperature in your room. Research that that cool temperature plays an important role in helping you to fall asleep.
I highly suggest wearing pajamas to bed. These should be as comfortable as possible, and you should make sure to wear them exclusively for sleeping and try not to spend your entire Sunday hanging out around the house in them, as creating a regular routine is vitally important (see below). Changing into these sleep-specific clothes tells your body that it is time for bed.
3. Create a regular sleep routine
As humans, we crave stability and order. This extends to our sleep routine. Consistency is essential to both falling asleep easily and making sure that you get good sleep all night long. As your brain associates certain activities with sleep, you are literally training yourself to sleep. Your nighttime routine should start long before you get into bed. You should find a thermostat setting that works optimally for you and make sure that the thermostat is set to that number every night.
I like to set aside a few minutes each night to prepare thanks for the next morning. For instance, my pre-bed routine goes something like this:
1. Each night before retiring to my bedroom I put coffee in the coffee maker and make sure its timer is set. I even set coffee mugs beside it for my husband and me in the morning.
2. I set out my clothes for the next morning.
3. I floss and brush my teeth. (Remember to floss!)
4. Take a warm shower.
A meta-analysis of 17 studies found that taking a shower bath in the evening and water between 104°F and hundred and 108.5°F resulted in improved sleep quality. People who take a bath or shower one to 2 hours before bedtime also fall asleep faster. A recent study of older adults found that taking a bath between 104.5° and 106°F lowered blood pressure before and during sleep. (It should be noted that the effects of a cold shower on sleep are less reliable and vary from person to person.) I would recommend a warm, or even hot, shower (or even better, a bath) before bed. This has been known as something in the industry called the “warm bath effect”.
5. Get dressed in my extraordinarily comfortable pajamas.
6. Climb into bed and get under the covers. Use Alexa to turn off the lights.
7. Sometimes, I’ll read a bit in bed before turning out the lights.
All screens have been banished from my bedroom. While I do charge my phone on my nightstand because I need to be reachable for emergencies, as soon as I enter my bedroom, my phone is plugged-in, and I do not look at it. There are no TVs or computers allowed in my bedroom.
4. Keep stress to a minimum
Try to not do work within several hours of going to bed if possible. Engage in alternate activities that do not make you think about work in the evening hours before bed.
Exercise is one thing that often gets overlooked and skipped in our hectic daily lives in America. It is important to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Personally, I try to do this in the evening before I start my bedtime routine. Most evenings, I try to get in at least 30 minutes on the exercise bike while watching TV at around 7 or 8:00 PM.
5. Don’t lie in bed awake
Everybody wakes up in the middle of the night from time to time. However, some nights falling asleep is much more difficult than others. If you can’t fall right back to sleep within 20 minutes, it’s important that you should try to change your circumstances. Try getting up and going to a different room. If you have a spare bed in your home, try lying down in that bed. Another thing you can try is to read for a little while. The important thing is to get your mind off of sleeping and to not stress yourself out about the next day’s activities. We’ve all been there: lying in bed unable to sleep and getting more and more anxious about how tired we’re going to be the next day in the big meeting because we couldn’t fall asleep. Unfortunately, that just compounds our stress and makes it even more difficult to fall asleep. Turn to a book. Don’t check your phone, turn on the TV, or check to see what happened in the news since you went to bed 3 hours before. Avoid blue lights.