When your work assignments and life issues keep drifting through your mind 24/7, there's no chance you'd give your bedtime routine an extra thought. That's why almost 35% of career professionals don't get enough quality sleep and feel tired most of their work time. However, by applying a few sleep-promoting techniques before going to bed, you'll manage to get a deep, truly restorative sleep. And also become a more productive and energized person after waking up!
Do you have trouble falling asleep after a stressful day too? Then dive in to discover the most effective habits that will help you get ready for bedtime and sleep like a baby.
Why simply jumping in the bed doesn't work?
What's wrong with just getting in the bed when you become sleepy? The answer is that there may be too many distractions around your bed that will disrupt your sleep.
Our sleep cycle needs two hormones for functioning: melatonin and cortisol. Your body produces melatonin when it becomes darker and cortisol to supply you with energy in the morning. But if your room is full of too many bright lights (coming from the lighting or your devices) and brain stimulants (that comes from your Netflix series or Facebook feed), you'll find it difficult to fall asleep.
Sleep quality also links to your internal processes. If your body's and room's temperature is too high or too cold, you'll wake up numerous times during the night with a high level of discomfort. That's why you should perform some preparations before you're carried away in the arms of Morpheus.
Destress before going to bed
Our daily life is full of stressors and problems that leave their traces on our mental health. For example, your colleague could be in a bad mood since the early morning, so that she would lash out at you. Or your family member could shock you with some bad news in the middle of your day. And instead of putting these anxious thoughts on hold, you're making a great fuss over them.
However, if you're going to bed with a head full of anxious thoughts, your sleep quality will leave much to be desired. Korean scientists approve people with higher levels of stress have lower sleep efficiency, decreased REM sleep, and slow-wave sleep. Stressed people are at higher risks to develop insomnia, plus they awake more times during the night than non-stressed people.
So before going to bed, spend some time destressing your brain and setting it up for glorious resting. We've prepared some techniques that you should try to improve your sleep:
Suppose you're looking for a natural, non-drug way to release stress before sleep. In that case, mindfulness meditation can be a perfect remedy for you. Maryland National Institutes of Health study claims that mindfulness meditations are effective against sleep disturbance.
Set a timer to remind you about meditation before sleep-time. Then turn off all lights and sounds that disturb you, and sit or lay in a comfortable place. Imagine as all your anxious thoughts and worries wash off your head like dirt, leaving you calm and ready for a good night's sleep. You deserve the rest, so why should you waste precious sleep time because of negative thoughts?
Active workouts may appear too stimulating to perform before sleep. In turn, slow and calming yoga is a fantastic way to blow off some steam after an exhausting day. According to the US National Health Statistics report, more than 80% of people who practice yoga said it helps them reduce stress. In comparison, 55% reported improved sleep quality.
Remember, you shouldn't be a yoga master to practice some of its poses and improve your sleep. First, find a quiet place at your home with no distractions. Next, align your breath and relax your muscles. Then you can try the legs up the wall pose by lying with your legs stretched up and leaning against the wall in the shape of the letter L. Or you can try a corpse pose —just lie with your straight legs and palms up. These yoga techniques will help you get in the right mood for sleeping and reduce excessive stress.
Let us guess — you're used to scrolling your newsfeed before catching off in your bed? But it can cause you even more stress! The University of Sussex survey results showed that reading or watching negative news can contribute to anxiety and cause sadness. Another study claims that consuming news induces increased production of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. That's why reading the news before sleep isn't the best idea.
Then why don't you reach for a more calming reading? The survey states reading a book can reduce your stress level by 68%. Moreover, the Sleep Junkie trial has proven reading helps people fall asleep faster and improve their sleep quality. But we suggest you prefer fiction books without horror elements or tragic plots. Adventure stories or classic books will do the best to help you get all ready for sleep.
Prepare your bedroom for sleep
Your bedroom environment is the next thing you should rearrange to get better sleep. Numerous researches say that people manage to sleep tighter and fall asleep faster in a well-optimized bedroom. But most people turn their bedroom into a multipurpose room where they eat, watch TV, and chat with friends. As a result, it can prevent your brain from recognizing the bedroom as a place to sleep and disrupt your sleep patterns.
That's why aligning your bedroom environment is so essential for improving your sleep quality. Plus, changing the way you behave within your bedroom will also contribute to it. So here are the main things you should modify in your sleeping room:
Are you used to falling asleep in a room full of different sources of light like your TV or chandelier? Then don't be surprised if you have trouble falling asleep. Lighting is the primary regulator of your sleep-wake cycle. And when it's too light around before bedtime, your body receives signals to produce cortisol, an energizing hormone, disrupting your sleep patterns.
As for Health Harward research, blue lights coming from your TV or smartphone prevents your body from producing melatonin, necessary for your to doze off. So consider putting off your devices and turning off the TV at least 30 minutes before sleep.
You can also align lightning in such a way it would be calming and comfortable for your eyes. For example, you can turn off all lights except your nightstand lamp or put a night lamp near your bed. Besides, you can change the lighting color to a warmer and muffled one.
What’s more, you can use your devices for your adventure instead of making them a distraction. For example, iPhones have sleep-promoting features like Wind Down, Sleep Mode, and Sleep Schedule. They will help you reduce distractions and suggest calming apps that can help you get ready for sleep. And if you have Android, you can also download sleep apps that will help you doze off by playing calmful sounds and stories.
As we mentioned before, the temperature in your bedroom directly influences your sleep quality. Japanese scientists have found that excessive heat exposure leads to decreased REM and slow-wave sleep. Moreover, it contributes to wakefulness during the night. In turn, too cold temperatures may stimulate your heart and increase your pulse, which can also disrupt your sleep. So optimizing your bedroom temperature is essential to get enough zzz's.
According to sleep research, an ideal temperature for your bedroom is between 66 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (19 and 21 degrees Celsius). However, you can align the temperature to your own needs. Just make sure you're feeling ultimate comfort with and without a blanket (since sometimes it can fall off your body).
Do you know this wonderful feeling when you dive into a bed with clean and fresh sheets after a bath? The National Sleep Foundation survey found out that most people think comfortable mattresses, pillows, bedding, and sheets are crucial to getting an excellent night's sleep.
Interestingly, such things as weighted blankets can also help you fall asleep better and even fight insomnia. Swedish researchers prove that a heavy blanket reduces wakefulness, limits your movements during sleep, and allows you to feel more secure when sleeping.
So don't forget to wash your sheets every two weeks and freshen up your pillows. Plus, you can purchase soft linens with a cooling effect and beautiful design, so you'll feel better even just by looking at them. Finally, get yourself a weighted blanket and sleep like a baby in a cradle!
Pre-bed habits to avoid
Your behavior before bedtime could also be a reason for insomnia or sleep disturbance. Be it healthy or harmful habits: both can interfere with your sleep and make you too energized to doze off. So let's uncover these habits and get rid of them most effectively and sparingly.
Who in the world hasn't ever made a strategic night raid to the fridge? We all have experienced this guilty pleasure. However, if it becomes your habit, we have bad news for you. A survey found that nighttime eating links to metabolic syndrome, obesity, and heart issues. Besides, another study claims eating right before bed contributes to wakefulness, sleep disturbance, and difficulties falling asleep.
Though, it doesn't mean that you should strictly tighten your belt. There's nothing wrong with taking a light snack before sneaking into your bed. It can be an apple or a cup of unsweetened yogurt — enough to fight cravings and don't cause heaviness in your stomach. You can also get a protein bar, which can even benefit you by boosting your muscle recovery during the night.
Drinking and smoking
For some people, the easiest way to destress after a hard day at work is to take a shot of whiskey with a cigarette. But these habits may significantly interrupt your sleep patterns. Sleep Health Foundation study claims nicotine, which you can find in cigarettes, is a powerful stimulant that increases your heartbeat and brain activity.
Meanwhile, alcohol is no better. When your body starts metabolizing it, it increases your heart rate, causes dizziness and nausea. These symptoms, in turn, induce wakefulness and nightmares, reversing the effect of sleep.
That's why you shouldn't reach for cigarettes at least two hours before sleep. And a glass of red wine would be an exceptional replacement for beer or whiskey since it's rich in antioxidants and strengthens blood vessels.
Late heavy workouts
Are you one of those "owls" who like to work out in the evening? Then you're doing good since moderate exercises improve sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster! However, it doesn't work this way for heavy workouts. For example, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or weightlifting an hour before going to bed will make it almost impossible for you to fall asleep.
But what if you get used to late workouts? Then just choose low-intensive exercises and don't overload your heart too much. You can try a moderate running session or slow stretching — they will help you get your workout dose and sleep tight afterward.
Setting a healthy pre-bed routine isn't a challenging task when you know which steps to follow. And once you choose a ritual to destress, rearrange your bedroom, and limit some undesirable habits, your sleep will turn into a true relaxation session. It will bring you so much energy and creativity in the morning that you'll be eager to conquer new heights right away!
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