Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or do you get to sleep just fine, but wake up periodically throughout the night? Whatever sleep issue you have, it can be bothersome to your entire day. A bad night's sleep can leave you in a fog--unable to focus on your day or be fully present. Additionally, chronic poor sleeping patterns can lead to a number of health conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety, or heart conditions to name a few. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep on a consistent basis. Don't think that you can get 5 hours on weekdays and catch up on the weekends. Unfortunately, "catching up" on sleep is not how it works.
Thankfully, there are ways to improve sleep. Here are three tips for better sleep:
1) No screen time before bed. In today's society we have so much available at our fingertips. Phones, tablets, laptops, and TV provide us with information, entertainment, and communication. While we shouldn't downplay the necessity of these items, we do need to limit their use 60-90 minutes before bed. The screenlight can dysregulate the natural circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is controlled by the pineal gland in the brain and is highly sensitive to light-dark changes. If the gland is constantly stimulated by light, it won't signal the brain to release substances (melatonin) that prime us for sleep. Believe it or not, there was a time when the sun and fire were the only sources of light!
2) Exercise! We live in an extremely sedentary society. Most of us don't have enough outlets to physically release pent up energy. When exercise is built into your routine, your body will naturally ramp up for exercise, then wind down for sleep. Exercise doesn't necessarily mean a trip to the gym. Think creatively about activities that you enjoy. Dance classes, playing with your children, yoga, boxing, a walk. Anything that will get your heart beating faster. The only thing to watch out for here is to not exercise too close to bed time.
3) Set a bedtime. Just like screens, going to sleep at different times every night disrupts your circadian rhythm. The body loves consistency. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Allow yourself 30-60 minutes of lead time to wind down, do your nightly routine, and get to bed slowly and calmly. Your body will thank you.
Try these three tips and watch your sleep improve.