Getting great sleep is essential to performing our best. We have more energy, patience and peace plus better focus, concentration and comprehension when we are well rested. Whether from work, school, or life in general, stress and anxiety can affect our sleep and make it harder to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
In order to improve sleep quality, first, figure out how much sleep you need and then create a schedule that will ensure that you are getting to bed on time. Then, start reducing your liquid intake in the late afternoon and early evening, so your sleep is not interrupted with bathroom breaks.
Finally, implement the three tips below. Do this and you’ll start getting the best sleep EVER, leaving you feeling more energetic and ready for whatever the day may bring.
1. Get Sunlight in the Morning
Getting sunlight in the morning is a simple, easy, and free way to get better sleep, provided you live in a place that is not too cold. It is also natural. Morning sunlight activates your body’s internal clock. Sunlight suppresses melatonin, the hormone that helps the body go to sleep, while it encourages cortisol production, which is needed to wake the body up and have it stay awake.
The best practice is to expose your eyes to sunlight for 30-45 minutes in the morning because serotonin, a neurotransmitter and precursor to melatonin, increases from exposure to sunlight, and about 12 hours later the serotonin will convert to melatonin. Avoid wearing anything that would block your eyes, like sunglasses or a hat, as the brain needs to register the light unencumbered for it to work. It’s fine to wear sunscreen to protect your skin and also don’t be discouraged on overcast days because even then you will get the light you need.
Reduce Light Exposure in the Evening
Another natural, free, and simple way to improve your sleep is to reduce exposure to light in the evening. Sunlight and other lights work to wake us up and keep us awake. It’s important to turn down the lights before bedtime, and preferably turn off all screens that emit a blue light. Screen time before bed tells our bodies that it’s still daytime and to stay awake. Plus, depending on the content, what you are reading or watching may be stimulating or stressful and can result in mental activity that is hard to shut off.
It is important to separate sleeping and waking activities. If we designate the bed as a zone for sleeping, our brains will associate bedtime with rest, relaxation and intimacy. Work to establish a night routine for the hour before bed that reduces the light you take in and focuses on shutting your brain down. For example, wash your face, brush your teeth, do some gentle yoga and read a book on paper or journal.
Make the Room Cool and Quiet
Having a cool, quiet room to sleep can make all the difference. It’s hard to impossible to sleep in a room that is too hot or too cold and for good reason. Our bodies thermoregulate to keep us alive, thus this system is designed to keep us awake or wake us up if we are too warm or cold while sleeping. Being comfortable is crucial for relaxation and the best temperature to sleep at is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
A quiet environment free of noise that can wake you is another necessity. It may seem obvious but many of us live with noise that interrupts our sleep. Some sounds can’t be eliminated, like the train that passes by a couple miles away or a noisy neighbor, but there are simple ways to make your home quieter. Also, white noise machines or ear plugs can be a good solution for that snoring spouse or yappy puppy.
From time to time, our natural sleep pattern can get interrupted by travel, illness, or overwhelming stress. Fortunately, there are natural, inexpensive remedies that can help reset your clock. Melatonin, valerian root and magnesium are tried and true sleep aids that are backed by science. Another supplement that is growing in popularity is CBD oil as it can help a variety of hormones, including those that prevent and promote sleep. When looking for the best CBD oil, make sure that it is third-party tested and has been medically-reviewed to back up its claims. All these natural aids are readily available and low cost, and worth a try to alleviate insomnia or jet lag.
Luckily, we don’t need expensive devices or treatments to experience great sleep. Instead, it’s a matter of changing up some routines and making the environment more conducive to rest and relaxation. Getting better sleep is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to improve your health and optimize your performance without breaking a sweat.
Erika Long loves corgis, curry and comedy. Always searching for the next great snuggle, flavor or laugh, she inspires people to live their best life now. When not writing, Erika can be found at her local brewery dominating Harry Potter trivia night.