Did you know that the average person spends 26 years of their life sleeping? With it being such a large portion of our lives, it is important to prioritize. While you know that you feel better after a good night's sleep but do you know what it actually does?
A few benefits of quality sleep are greater cognitive function, stronger immune system, better overall metabolic health, beauty sleep is a real thing and it is good for your skin, mood regulation, recovery, and it improves your workout performance. While there are certainly other benefits to add, we will focus more on how to sleep better.
Just like kids, adults need a bedtime routine too. A good night's rest all starts with a bedtime routine and a relaxing routine will rest your mind and heart rate so that when you finally go to bed you won’t lie awake failing to sleep. Here is a list of activities to help wind down.
1. Set your bedtime. Whether it’s 9 pm or 1 am, just stick to it. A consistent sleep schedule can give you more and better quality rest and may lower your risk for heart disease. Additionally, a set bedtime will ensure you’re getting enough sleep and establish a natural circadian rhythm which is your body's internal clock.
2. Stop eating early. Avoid eating 2 hours before bedtime and avoid sugary or high-fat foods (sorry, no ice cream). Beyond eating early, sticking to a regular dinner time regulates your circadian rhythm too and improves sleep efficiency.
3. Avoid caffeine. Like most people, I love coffee. Getting up at 5 am every day, I need it but coffee drinkers should stay away from consuming it in the afternoon. Some people are so sensitive to caffeine that they should stop before noon.
4. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it is detrimental to a good night’s sleep. Sleep is an active process and alcohol inhibits those processes. Alcohol prevents you from getting enough REM and deep sleep as your body metabolizes it.
5. Separate work from bed. The ability to work from anywhere means you can also work at any time. Working remotely often means you have less separation between home and the office, and potentially less separation between work and sleep. Keep your bed solely for sleeping so when you get in your body naturally winds down and produces natural melatonin.
6. Tech-free time. Plan some technology-free time before you go to bed. Blue lights from most televisions, computers and phones inhibit the production of melatonin. Some electronics have settings that alter screen temperatures to a warmer color in the evening, but electronics can have other negative effects. Social media can create feelings of anxiety and depression, emotions you don’t necessarily want to feel when you’re trying to sleep.
7. Pre-bed yoga routine or meditation. Gentle activities such as yoga can calm your mind and heart rate as you prepare for bed. Try relaxing positions such as child pose, reclined butterfly, or simply sitting cross-legged on the floor (or your bed) in the easy pose and breathing for five minutes to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Meditation also decreases resting heart rate and improves heart rate variability.
8. Journaling. Writing in a diary the old-fashioned way lets you organize your mind, decreases overthinking and worry, and allows you to fall asleep faster. If you’re prone to staying awake with anxiety, organizing your thoughts on paper may help calm you enough to rest. You can also use journaling to write about positive experiences to redirect your mind as you prepare for sleep.
Not every tip will work for every person, so experiment with different wind-down activities to see which ones work better for you. Finding your bedtime routine will not only make you feel better but will increase your performance and regulate hormones on your weight loss journey.