Have you ever noticed that when you’re sleep deprived, you have zero patience? I think most of us can agree on that! Molehills become mountains and everyday stressors turn into way bigger burdens. That’s partly because sleeping is a powerful tool to help the brain process all the information taken in during the day – and let’s be real it’s a lot.
Sleeping helps us see through difficult decisions, dream up our next big ideas, and think more clearly when we’re awake. Prepping for a long slumber, it turns out, is just as important as sleep itself. So, we kicked some of our old habits to rest and adopted a few simple changes to help us fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling like Sleeping Beauty after Prince Phillip’s kiss.
If you’re like us and want to optimize your sleeping hours, consider trying these important steps before calling it a night!
Rely on a Ritual
Being on the go all day, every day, our bodies tend to get tired, while our brain is still too wired to take a rest. To offset that, try adopting a pre-bedtime ritual to signal to your body that it’s time to relax and unwind. We all want to flip the “off switch” when we get home from a long day, so try taking a hot shower or bath to kick start it.
“The rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness,” explains Harvard Med’s Healthy Sleep site. Keeping the room a bit cooler—around 68 to 70 degrees—can also help since warmer temperatures cause fragmented sleep. Your body’s ideal sleeping environment is cool, dark, and quiet, so let’s turn down those thermostats, roll down the shades and catch some z’s!
Another tip for planning a good night’s rest is to follow a regular sleep schedule. We know this sounds obvious, but hear us out. By getting yourself to bed around the same time every night, your body will begin to adjust to the pattern, and therefore help you sleep better, wake up happy, and most importantly ready to kick some butt!
Power Down and DND
We are all guilty of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram right before bed, but once we learned that the light from our phones, tablets, and other gadgets actually keeps our brains switched on and messes with our sleep, we knew it was time to put this habit to rest. Dr. Helen Driver, a sonologist and assistant professor at Queen’s University explains, “The explosion of social media and people staying on devices for longer – and taking them to bed with them – is a huge problem.”
While our phones have become our security blankets, taking them to bed is like taking your melatonin or CBD oil with a double shot of espresso. Although this might sound tasty, this habit is messing with your sleep, and probably your sanity.
Try powering down at least an hour before bedtime and keep your phone in another room from where you sleep. You’ll sleep better and won’t be tempted to check it in the middle of the night. Added bonus: When your phone alarm goes off in the morning, it will force you up and out of bed.
Write it Down
In order for our brains to relax and get ready for sleep, we need to clean up our mental desktops. In other words, get the running to-do list out of our heads. Before bed, get out that old trusty pen and paper and make your list of what you need to do in order to tackle the next day. Once you get it all written down, it frees up space in your mind.
If you want to take it to the next level, try journaling for a few minutes before bed. Sitting down for a few moments to write freely, reflect on obstacles you’re facing, or even more importantly, things you are grateful for, it can help you feel relaxed and in a peaceful state of mind.
A behavioral study even found that writing a list of your daily gratitude’s and journaling for 15 minutes every night helps people worry less and sleep better, so why not better ourselves, right?
Stretch it Out
If you’re like us and spend more of your day sitting in an office than you do in a yoga studio, chances are, your body–especially your back, neck, and shoulders—carry a lot of tension. Taking ten minutes before bed to stretch it out and flex your body will help release some of that stress you’re housing and in turn, help you sleep better.
In fact, a review of multiple research studies found that meditative movements, such as stretching or yoga, improved sleep quality. It helps release muscle tension, prevent sleep-disturbing aches, and focuses your attention on your breath instead of the everyday stresses from the day.
A few of our favorites are neck stretches, low lunges, and Child’s Pose. To even further your stretching, try this too: while stretching, close your eyes and inhale through your nose while slowly counting to five, then exhale while counting back down to one. Not only does it promote relaxation, but it also increases flexibility and those feel-good chemicals in your brain, we all have come to know!
A glass of wine and a late-night snack always seems like the right thing to do before bed, right? Unfortunately, if you want the best possibilities for a good night’s sleep, you’re probably going to want to reconsider. While at the time it may help you feel sleepy and relaxed, consuming alcohol or food before hitting the hay, tends to cause disrupted sleep more times than not.
Our bodies weren’t designed to digest and sleep at the same time, so when we do, it affects our REM sleep–the one that helps us wake up rested. Obviously, we aren’t telling you to give up that glass of wine, but instead have it a couple of hours before bed, and instead make a cup of chamomile tea with a dash of CBD oil as your nightcap!