Do you want to learn how to sleep better?
Updated: Oct 17, 2018
In a world where we are constantly running from one task to another, what our body and brain need the most is a good night's sleep. Whether you are the person who needs 4 hours or 9 hours of sleep in order to function properly, you should make sure that those hours laying in bed are spent sleeping and not tossing and turning or waking up every other hour.
Looking like the kitty from this image is how I strive to be every single time I lay in bed and so should you! It is very possible! In this post I am going to give you some of my best advice when it comes to improving your sleep quality which is only going to help you be more productive and happy throughout the day.
1. Understanding the circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythm is a daily 24 hour cycle of biological activity. In other words, your body has an internal clock that auto-regulates when to activate every system in it. What a smart machine! For example, the highest testosterone secretion is around 9 am; the best coordination time is around 2.30 pm; the highest blood pressure is around 6.30 pm and melatonin secretion starts around 9 pm. As long as your schedule is consistent, your circadian rhythm will synchronize with your lifestyle on its own. This is why it is recommended to keep your bedtime within a 1 hour window, for example, if you usually go to sleep at 11 pm on a work day, you will go to sleep no later than 12 am on a day off for optimal sleep quality.
2. Limiting light exposure
Light affects every every single system in your body. Exposure to light in the evenings significantly decreases sleep quality. Blue light, like the one coming from electronic devices, could also significantly disrupt your biorhythm. We all use our phones and/or tablets at night thinking that "at least it's not the computer" but in reality the effects of the lights on your body are still the same regardless of how large is the screen you are using. A better strategy is to make sure that your technology doesn't expose you to blue light at night. What you can do, if you want to work on your computer in the evenings is install a handy free software called f.lux on that auto-regulates your monitor's light spectrum. You could switch on the blue light filter on your phone and other electronic devices night time, most of them need to be set one time and then they switch automatically to a blue light blocking filter at a specific time. You will have nothing to think about after the initial set up. Convenient, right? If you are feeling very fashionable, you could also rock some blue light blocking glasses. By blocking your blue light exposure at night, you are increasing melatonin production and sleep quality greatly.
3. Supplementing with melatonin
If you have tried everything in this article and other sources but nothing seems to be working for you AND you are positive that stress isn't the culprit of your restless nights, you could try supplementing 3 mg of melatonin about 60 minutes before bedtime. Melatonin is the key hormone that tells your body it's time to sleep. Its supplementation improves sleep quality and makes it easier to fall asleep without any side effects. Although supplementing with melatonin is completely harmless, it does not cause addiction or disrupt natural production, it isn't to be considered a band-aid for your poor approach to actual sleep hygiene. You should try your best to improve your sleep quality in other ways before deciding to reach for the supplement.
4. The importance of meditation
Don't stop reading because the idea of meditating discourages you! You can't seem to stay still for more than 30 seconds and shut your brain off? You are not alone, it's hard for all of us. This doesn't mean that you should completely give up on the idea and move on to the next paragraph. Let's try this together: put your phone on silent and turn on a timer for 3-5 minutes, put your phone to the side, sit or lay comfortably and close your eyes. Focus on your breath and listen to the sound it creates. Inhale slowly, exhale slowly. You will notice it sounds just like the ocean waves. Relaxing, right? Whenever your mind wanders off and you realize that, bring it back to your breathing. Even if it happens every 10 seconds, the moment you realize your mind is thinking about something else is the moment you are actually present in the Now and making an effort. This is great! Sitting and shutting your brain off is hard, if not impossible, for most of us. Meditation is a conscious effort to change how the mind works. It takes years to master the skill of meditation, why should we expect to be able to do it from the first try? Start with a few minutes and try to go as long as possible, you will feel refreshed, calm and focused after a short session. You can practice this as many times as you wish in a day. I do it daily. Sometimes I do it before bed, other times in the middle of the day and before bed. Whenever I have a hectic day and my brain is multitasking for multiple hours at a time, I try to take 5-10 minutes to do this in between tasks and it helps me be more productive and get to the end of the day feeling more calm.
5. The perfect bedroom for a good night's sleep
This doesn't mean that you will have to redecorate your bedroom after reading this article but it means that there are a few tricks you could use to improve the sleeping conditions in your home:
install black-out curtains/blinds on your windows or use a sleep mask;
make sure there are no lights from technology, cover up the LED with a sticker;
set the room temperature at about 66.2 F (19°C);
if the air in your bedroom is too dry, use a small room humidifier (optional: put a few drops of lavender essential oil in it).
Recently I discovered pillow sprays and I have been using them a lot. I simply spray my pillow a few times before laying my head down to rest and enjoy the fresh smell. You can get yours on Amazon or head to your local Marshall's, TJ Maxx or any other local store to get a bottle.
6. Set some time aside for a bed routine
We are all very busy individuals. Sometimes we just come home from working late and want to crash in bed or we watch TV until so late that we get lazy to do anything before bed. Don't do this, set some time aside for yourself and take care of your mind & body. Even if it's only 10 minutes. Take a quick hot shower, put lotion on your body & moisturize your face (you guys should do it too, skin gets dry on men too, it's not just a girly thing), brush your teeth and meditate for a few minutes. Whether you are a single guy or a busy mom of 4, you can find the time to unwind even if it's 5-10 minutes to yourself. Remember, you cannot give the best of you to others if you don't take care of yourself first!