Your guide to a healthy body & mind

How to Get Better Sleep

How to Get Better Sleep

Do you want to sleep better?  Do you struggle to stay awake during the day? Never feeling well rested?

If you feel me on either of these, you’re in the right place. I have definitely been there and I find it incredibly frustrating.

Without proper sleep I find I am just trying to survive the day, not thrive, not do anything over and above what I have to in order to make it through the day.

Without proper sleep, improving other aspects of your life tends to be pushed onto the back burner because sleep is one of our basic necessities. Ensuring you are getting enough sleep is a form of self-care and is the most important place to start before focusing on mindfulness, self-love, and all other topics of self-improvement.

In order to be your best self you have to start with meeting your basic needs, one of which being sleep. Here are some ways you can sleep better and feel energized throughout your day.

1.  Figure out how much sleep you require each night

improve your quality of sleep

The typical recommended amount of nightly sleep is 8 hours. However, it depends from person to person. Women typically sleep longer than men. Some people can regularly require 10 hours per night.

Here you can find a chart with a range of hours of sleep you may require each night based on age.

Also I want to mention that there is something called sleep debt– if you missed a few hours of sleep one night you need to catch up on that sleep over and above your nightly sleep requirement before you will feel rested. If you need extra sleep for a few nights or some naps during the day- do that!

2.  Limit caffeine to sleep better

improve your quality of sleep

I think the first thing to consider if you are having trouble sleeping is your caffeine intake. Are you drinking a lot of caffeinated coffee or tea throughout the day?

Consider not drinking caffeine at least 8 hours before you hope to go to sleep. My cut off is noon.  I’ll drinking caffeinated tea or coffee in the morning but after noon it has to be decaffeinated.

A lot of people say that caffeine doesn’t affect their sleep, and maybe it doesn’t but I think it should be the first thing you try if you are struggling to sleep.  Cut off caffeine consumption at a certain time and limit consumption to 1-2 cups in the morning.

3.  Make your bedroom relaxing and cozy

improve your quality of sleep

Make your bedroom a place that makes you want to disconnect from the world and just cozy up with a book & relax before you fall asleep.

Add pillows and blankets and nice soft lighting, relaxing smells, etc. It will be easier to create a calm mental state when your surroundings are in line with that feeling. Despite the fact that I mostly focus on being able to create a calm mind no matter what your surroundings, doing so will definitely simplify relaxation.

Related post: How to Create a Calm Environment

4.  Set a bedtime

improve your quality of sleep

Set a bedtime that will allow you to get sufficient sleep before your wake up time. Take into consideration any time you will require to get ready for bed, and the time you may use to journal, read, meditate once you get into bed. Set an alarm to allow yourself time to get ready for bed.

Aiming to be in bed at a regular time each day will make it a habit and get your body into a proper sleep schedule.

5.  Turn off electronics to sleep better

improve your quality of sleep

Consider turning off electronics such as phones, tablets and computers at least 1 hour before bedtime! I still watch TV before bed, but you could consider cutting this out as well. Most of us have heard that the blue light from electronics prevent sleep. You can imagine how this may confuse your brain and affect your sleep as the blue light from electronics is the same light that is given off by the sun.

It is not totally known exactly why this affects our sleep.  Two common beliefs are: seeing this blue light minimizes the production of melatonin- a hormone that helps us sleep, or that the blue wavelengths affect the wavelengths in our brain causing more alertness instead of inducing sleep.

You can read more about how blue light affects sleep here.

6.  Maintain a regular wake up time

improve your quality of sleep

Okay I hate to say this. I love to sleep in.  However, maintain your wakeup time throughout the week as this will keep your body in a rhythm and allow sufficient awake time so that you are tired by bedtime and will sleep better.  That being said, go ahead and sleep an extra hour in the morning on your days off.  Let yourself relax.

7.  Make a bedtime routine & try meditation to calm your mind

improve your quality of sleep

Start a nightly routine you do each night before bedtime. Consider including stretching, meditation, a cup of tea, journaling, anything relaxing in your bedtime routine, this trains your brain and body that it is soon bedtime and time to slow down.

My biggest struggle to sleeping is typically my mind, running, and thinking, and solving problems that sometimes don’t even exist. Meditation is what has made the biggest difference in my life.  Meditation has changed so many aspects but specifically my sleep habits. I used to lie down in bed and my brain would just start going in all directions.  My mind would not be calm no matter how hard I tried. I finally decided I had to do something about it, that something being meditation. Meditation helped right from the beginning.  I was not perfect at calming my mind right away, it took some practice.  But my sleep started to improve immediately.

Related post: Meditation: How to Calm Your Mind

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References:
https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times/page/0/1
https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/repaying-your-sleep-debt</em
https://www.livescience.com/53874-blue-light-sleep.html


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