Sleep is a basic biological necessity, and feeling tired doesn’t have to be considered normal. Make better sleep a part of your daily routine with these three healthy practices.
“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” – Thomas Dekker
According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
While your natural sleep cycle may differ from mine, we both benefit from getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can impair our long-term memory, primes us to focus on negative experiences, dulls judgment, interrupts focus, lowers immune function, causes hormone imbalances, kills brain cells, and places stress on the body.
Sleep deprivation does not have to be your destiny.
There are several ways to improve sleep and thus experience higher energy levels, better health, and a good mood. Discovering what works for you will take some trial and error. Here are three good stress-busting sleep habits that have worked for me.
3 Healthy Habits for Better Sleep
1. Stick to a schedule.
By cultivating a healthy morning, afternoon, and evening routine, you can enhance the quality and length of your sleep.
To better understand how your current habits affect your rest, track your sleep every day for two or more weeks. Include things such as:
- Your bedtime
- Approximate time you fall asleep after laying down
- How many times you wake up during the night
- How you feel in the morning
- What you last ate/drank before going to bed (and when)
- The type and length of exercise you engaged in
- How much sunlight you were exposed to during the day
Compare your daily activities with your nightly sleep patterns to see what’s helping or hindering sleep. Track anything and everything, if you must.
Here are a few ideas to help you create your own healthy routine:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time – even on weekends – to keep your hormone cycle regular.
- Get at least 30 minutes of sun exposure to encourage higher serotonin levels during the day, and improved melatonin production at night.
- Engage in aerobic exercise at least four hours before bedtime, as it raises body temperature for about four hours which keeps you awake, but the following cooling effect promotes sleep.
- Drink plenty of water during the day, but stop drinking about two hours before bedtime so you aren’t prompted to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
- Avoid caffeine (such as tea, coffee, and soda) after 2pm, because it’s a stimulant that stays in your system for about eight hours and can hinder sleep.
- Prepare for tomorrow, tonight. Iron your clothes. Pack your lunch. Gather your belongings beforehand so you aren’t rushing in the morning, which may be enough to encourage you to calm down a little more tonight.
- Pray or meditate before bedtime to relax the mind.
- Stretch, give yourself a massage, or practice gentle yoga before bedtime to relax the muscles.
Get into a routine and stick to it for at least two or three weeks. After that time, check in with your sleep patterns to see if any positive changes have occurred.
2. Write down your thoughts, worries, and joys.
Can’t turn your mind off? If something has been troubling you, get it out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Identify and voice your concerns in writing, and jot down possible solutions for each.
There’s always something to be grateful for. Try ending your day with a gratitude journal in hand, jotting down three to five things that are deserving of your gratitude today. What happened today that you’re thankful for?
Also consider keeping a happiness journal to record the positive highlights of your day, which encourages peace of mind and a peaceful night’s sleep.
3. Distract yourself from your thoughts.
Block out the disruptive noise coming from outside your door or inside your head. Sound machines, soothing music, meditation tapes, and audio books can help drown out the chatter and promote restful sleep. Find what works for you.
Personally, I find that listening to wordless music takes me to a place of deep sleep. Read about all the amazing health benefits of music.
What helps you fall asleep? Please share your own habits for better sleep, any insight on the topic, and experiences with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who could use a restful night’s sleep.