The interwebs are full of clickbaity titles that promise you the moon. I promise you, this blog isn't one of them. It's backed by science and is universally accepted as one thing that can improve your mood, energy level, and your sex drive. Who doesn't want all of that?!?
So what is it and how much will it cost you? Thankfully it won't cost you a dime but you may have to give some things up. It's good quality sleep and these days it's in short supply. Everyone tells you to get more sleep, but this is a case where quantity and quality are equally important.
If you get a great 4 hours of sleep, your body hasn't gone through all of its nightly rebuilding processes. If you get 7-9 hours but you toss and turn the whole time, the outcome is the same with the added *bonus* of brain fog and lack of focus throughout the next day. How do you get a good night's sleep? Here are my top tips for making the sleep of your dreams a nightly reality:
1. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Caffeine in coffee, cola, tea, and chocolate should be avoided at least 6 hours before bedtime. If you smoke or chew tobacco, don't do so just before turning in for the night.
2. Make your bedroom a haven. A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote a good night's sleep. It's why bats congregate in caves to sleep during the day. To recreate this in your home, lower the volume of outside noise with earplugs or a "white noise" appliance. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain that it's time to wake up. Keep the temperature comfortably cool—between 60 and 75°F—and the room well ventilated. And make sure your bedroom is equipped with a comfortable mattress and pillows. (Remember that most mattresses wear out after ten years.) If your pets keep you up at night, do your best to keep them out of your room.
3. Create your own wind down routine. Begin transitioning from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. Take a bath, read a book, put your phone down or in grayscale mode, or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities—doing work, discussing emotional issues. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness. Try to not have distressing discussions at bedtime. Agree to discuss things at another time or if it's your own mind racing, try writing down what's on your mind.
4. Take advantage of natural light. Or buy a gradual alarm clock like this one. We LOVE ours! It not only does it replicate a sunrise, but you can also wake up to nature sounds and it allows you to use room darkening drapes, further helping you get the rest you need.
5. Have a consistent bedtime. This is super important to proper melatonin production. If your body doesn't know when to start producing it, you'll end up needing to supplement it. I know how tempting it is to sleep in on the weekends and if you need sleep, take it. Just know that the more inconsistent your bedtime, the less rested you'll be overall.
6. Some other things to consider: don't snack after dinner or exercise within a few hours of bedtime, and balance water intake so you're not interrupted in the middle of the night by a pee break.
If you can do most of this regularly, you should see your sleep improve. If it doesn't, you may want to consider supplementing with melatonin for a week (while also working on the above tips). If you're still not getting the rest you need, it's time to make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to me. I'd love to help you customize a plan that helps you finally get the rest your body so desperately needs.
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