Simple Habits for a Better Night's Sleep03.16.2023
Good sleep is a vital aspect of our overall health and wellbeing, yet many of us struggle to get the quality rest that our bodies need. Between modern day stress, technology and other distractions, it can be challenging to get the restorative sleep we need to function at our best. The good news is that with a few simple changes to our evening routine and daily habits, we can say goodbye to counting sheep and hello to a restful slumber. Here are six top tips for how you can get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle the day ahead.
- Dim down the lights.
Our bodies have a natural clock called the “circadian rhythm”, which is regulated by light exposure. Exposure to bright lights like ceiling lights, lamps as well as electronics can affect this, interfering with our natural sleep-wake cycle and sleep hormones. Rather than using bright lighting in your home in the evening, consider opting for softer, ambient lighting or candles to create a more soothing environment. By reducing your exposure to bright lights an hour before bed, you can help your body transition into a more relaxed state and prepare for sleep.
Blue light emitted by electronic devices like phones, laptops and TVs can also mess with this natural circadian rhythm. This type of light can suppress the release of our “sleepy hormone”, melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep. Along with blue light, late night work emails, TV and social media scrolling tend to keep our minds busy and awake longer than we should be. Aim to get off all devices at least 1 hour before bed. If all else fails, consider wearing blue light blocking glasses or using “night mode” for a warmer screen tone to reduce the impact on your sleep.
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate our circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep quality. The ideal sleep schedule varies from person to person, but most adults require around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. If we consistently get too little or too much sleep, we can experience sleep-related problems such as insomnia or daytime drowsiness. When we go to bed and wake up at consistent times, our bodies become accustomed to this routine and our circadian rhythm becomes more regular. This, in turn, helps us fall asleep more easily and wake up feeling more refreshed.
But what if you work shifts? Shift workers who have irregular sleep schedules often struggle with sleep-related problems due to disrupted circadian rhythms. If you work shifts, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible, even on your days off. It may be helpful to wear an eye mask or earplugs to block out light and noise that can interfere with your sleep. It may also be helpful to create a relaxing bedtime routine to signal the body that it's time to sleep, even if the timing of this routine changes with your schedule.
- Get morning sunlight exposure.
Exposure to sunlight in the morning helps regulate our circadian rhythm. Sunlight exposure also stimulates the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and promotes feelings of wellbeing. Even if it's cloudy outside, getting outside in the morning or sitting near a window can help improve cortisol levels and our natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to better sleep at night. If you're unable to get outside, consider investing in a light therapy lamp or light box, which simulates natural sunlight. As always, just remember to be sun smart!
- Cut back on caffeine and ditch the alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep quality, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Consuming caffeine from beverages such as coffee, tea or energy drinks too close to bedtime can also disrupt the circadian rhythm. To improve sleep quality, try limiting your caffeine intake and avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
When it comes to alcohol, while it may make you feel sleepy initially, it can disrupt the normal sleep cycle, leading to lighter and less restorative sleep. Try avoiding alcohol in the evening and limiting your overall alcohol consumption.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
A relaxing bedtime routine can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, as well as signal to the body that it’s time for rest, making it easier to fall asleep. Activities like reading a book, meditating or journaling can all help you unwind before bed. A bath or hot shower is also a fantastic way to relax and ease tension. Better yet, when we get out of the bath or shower, our body temperature naturally begins to drop. This drop in temperature can signal to our body that it's time to sleep and help us fall asleep faster too.
- Use herbs for a better sleep
Herbs like passionflower, tart cherry, and ashwagandha can help improve sleep quality and promote relaxation. Passionflower has been traditionally used to support sleep quality, as well as support feelings of stress and anxiety. It has a calming effect on the nervous system and works to promote relaxation and support a good night’s rest.
Tart cherry is known to contain both melatonin and tryptophan, which help the body transition into sleep and has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha can also help the body relax and support our overall quality of sleep. They work by helping the body better cope with stress, supporting healthy cortisol levels and promoting relaxation. Learn more about Nightcap, our natural sleep elixir for a restorative night’s sleep.
Remember, good sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. By making just a few simple changes to our daily habits and evening routines, you'll be on your way to catching those Zs in no time! Here’s to sweet dreams and a better night’s rest.