What’s the number one thing everyone tells you to do when you’re sick? What do you take a whole day to do when you’re sore from working out? You rest!
Your mind and body need to rest on a regular nightly basis to recharge. Whether or not you sleep well majorly impacts your mental and physical health, so why wouldn’t you want to get all the rest you can get? Let’s talk about some ways to get the best rest just before you go to bed. A lot of things can feel like they’re in the way of getting your in some deep sleep, especially when it comes down to time management, but nothing should be more important than your health.
When you get a good night’s sleep, and I’m talking about a deep slumber to really rejuvenate your soul, you’ll boost your immune system which fights to protect you from colds and flus, reduce production of stress hormones that can even impact your heart health, improve your productivity and performance, maintain your appetite by preventing overeating, and so much more. We all know sleep is important, so we are more often left wondering, how can I get better sleep?
There’s a few ways to improve the quality of your sleep and make sure you’re getting everything out of it that you should. These are steps you can take for the best sleep. A lot of it boils down to breaking bad habits at bedtime, and yes even adults need a bedtime!
Shut the Screens Down
Before you get to bed, take the time to turn it all down, and that means the TV, the lights, and even your phone. We sleep in the dark, and that alerts our brains to start shutting things down and preparing for sleep.
If you’re usually scrolling your phone before bed because you can’t fall asleep, do you think instead you might not fall asleep because you’re scrolling your phone?
Studies have shown staring at the bright lights, especially a phone screen no more than an arm’s length from your eyes, watching flashing lights across your eyes and listening to loud sounds that all keep your brain alert and highly engaged, impairs your sleep. Read a book, meditate, listen to quiet music, or anything else to keep your eyes off the phone for 20 minutes so your brain gets the message! Your phone has far too much content for your own good when it comes to getting ready for bed.
Set Your Bedtime
You may not get grounded anymore for staying up late, but you’re still going to pay for it. It’s recommended adults get a minimum of 7 hours a night, depending on a few factors like your age and activity level, but this should give you a good idea of what to schedule your bedtime around.
If you have to wake up for work or an event at, say, 7 AM, you should aim to be asleep by midnight the latest. Those with kids, however, already know the trick; your “bedtime” isn’t the time you should be sleeping, it’s when you start the winding down game. Give yourself time to shut down the screens, prep for your next day, get any late night tasks done, and prepare your body for some shut eye.
Try to set a schedule for a few weeks and see how you feel. If you still feel tired and sluggish after consistently getting 7 hours a night, you may want to add an extra hour to your sleep and change your bedtime.
Just like you shouldn’t get too little, you also shouldn’t get too much sleep! Oversleeping can have just as negative an impact on your overall health. Have you ever slept the day away on a weekend and woke up feeling even more tired? Your body is tired from sleeping, just like overcharging your phone can slow it down. Based on recommendations for adults to sleep 7-9 hours a night, I don’t set my alarm any later than that.
This is also not only important for your nightly slumbers but naps too! A truly beneficial and restful nap should last between 20 minutes to an hour and a half, but set your alarm for 90 minutes or you will feel especially groggy waking up. It may feel too short, but any longer and you’ll fall into your REM sleep cycle, which will cause the grogginess and fatigue when you wake up in the middle of it. A good nap happens before you fall deep asleep, a short and sweet cat nap.
Limit Beverages and Snacks Before Bed
According to majority nutritionists, you should avoid eating 3 hours before bed. It is a process to break down every meal and snack, so it only hurts you and any potential weight loss dreams you have when you don’t give your body the right amount of time to digest properly. Basically those calories you consume before bed are more likely stored as fat.
If you do allow “bedtime snacks” it can create unhealthy bad habits down the line; you’ll eat your bedtime snack because you do every night, but in reality it’s extra calories you probably didn’t need. Studies have shown links between weight gain and eating before bed.
Create A Nightly Routine
Whether it’s some candles, a comforting book, or calming face mask, create a nightly routine, along with turning out the lights and shutting down screens. This comes back to preparing your body for a full night’s sleep. Relax your mind and take time for yourself before bed to unwind. Yoga and meditation can be very relaxing and easy to quiet your mind.