Feeling more energetic and clear-headed the next morning is certainly what we want to achieve from a good night of sleep, but there are many other health benefits that come with getting plenty of sleep every night: stronger immune system, better-regulated hunger hormones, healthier heart, better athletic performance, and improved memory.
But getting a good night's sleep is easier said than done, especially in the modern world where we're all glued to electronics. It is possible, though, with a few adjustments to our everyday lifestyle. Here are five habits you can add to your daily life to help you get better sleep than ever, no matter how busy you might be.
Go To Sleep and Wake Up at the Same Time Every Single Day
This is not what you want to hear because we're so used to stay up late and sleeping in on the weekends, but having a different sleep schedule every day of the week is one of the reasons why your sleep/wake cycle is so messed up. One common piece of advice that all sleep experts pass down is that we should all wake up and go to bed at the same time every day in order to achieve the best quality of sleep and create a reliable internal clock.
Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day in order to achieve the best quality of sleep.
This will certainly require some adjustment to your daily schedule, and you might have to go to sleep a little earlier on weekends than you're used to (of course, special occasions will come along and you'll just have to stay up late every once in a while). But do your best to get out of the headspace that Friday nights are meant to stay up past midnight. You'll be much happier in the long run if you go to sleep on time on the weekends; besides, what are you really missing other than Netflix? The good news is, if you have kids this will probably be much easier for you, as kids follow the same schedule every single day.
Get Plenty of Sunlight During the Day
The sun is our number one source of energy and the primary thing that our internal clock bases itself on. We need the sun to tell our body what time of day it is (after all, your hormones and internal functions can't read a clock), how much serotonin to produce, how much melatonin to produce, etc. Make it a point to go outside at least three times a day, for about 10-15 minutes each. If it's warm enough, let the sun hit your bare skin so you soak up the vitamin D and send the signal to your brain that it's daytime.
This will help your body understand when it's time to be alert and when it's time to get sleepy. That way, by the end of the night when you're finally ready to go to bed you will actually be tired rather than wired.
Turn Off All Electronics At Least 30 Minutes Before Bedtime
Surely you've heard this rule before, but you just can't bring yourself to follow it. Now's the time to start changing your bedtime routine. Turn off everything – TV, laptop, tablet, even phone – at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. Get the blue light out of your eyes so you don't stimulate yourself, which makes it very difficult to wind down for bed. Besides, all the things you're looking at are likely making your mind run a mile a minute, so set aside the work emails, the memes, and social media posts for a while before your head hits the pillow.
Read a book, spend some time with your loved ones, or do some breathwork to prepare your body for bed. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, buy yourself a real alarm clock so you don't rely on the phone every morning. Your bedtime routine should be extremely relaxing, and you should avoid stimulation before your head hits the pillow. Your body isn't able to produce the right amount of melatonin if you're wired before bed.
Create the Right Sleep Environment
When your room is a little cooler at night you sleep better because your internal temperature drops, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" system. Make sure your bed is super comfortable; you should feel relieved to get under the covers at night. Don't be afraid to invest in a high-quality mattress, pillows you love, and all-cotton sheets so you aren't finding yourself sweaty or damp at night.
When your room is a little cooler at night you sleep better.
Make sure your room is pitch black dark (blackout curtains work wonders!) and use an eye mask if needed. Even better, use some mouth tape. Sealing your mouth shut at night promotes nasal breathing, which is more relaxing on the body and can even help you stay longer in the deep phase of sleep (which is the most restful part of sleep that allows you to feel energetic the next morning).
Additionally, make sure your bed is only reserved for sleep and romance. No watching TV in bed, no working in bed, and no scrolling through social media in bed. Your brain needs to understand that bed is only meant for sleeping so that every time your head hits the pillow you automatically wind down and prepare yourself naturally for sleep. Another tip: don't let any pets sleep in the bed with you. As sweet as those furry friends might be, they are wrecking your sleep.
Sleep is a serious part of your health that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you're making an effort to eat good food, exercise routinely, and reduce stress but you're not sleeping well at night, it's almost as if your efforts are worthless. Your body requires high-quality sleep in order to function optimally, so invest in yourself and make all the necessary changes to your schedule in order to achieve that sweet night of sleep.