Do you ever find yourself wondering how you can fall asleep faster, sleep longer, or feel more refreshed in the morning? If you answered yes to any of the following, you are not alone. In today’s busy society, our minds and bodies seem to be active from the moment our feet touch the floor until we finally drift off into a restless sleep while still thinking of the many things on our “To Do” list. The key to better sleep, is to train your mind and body to prepare for sleep long before your actual bedtime is reached, but how do you do that?
Reduce blue light exposure
Long before cell phones and alarm clocks, light was the most natural way to tell a person’s body when it was time to be awake and when to prepare for sleep. More specifically, blue light regulates melatonin, a natural hormone that has the largest influence on the body’s sleep cycle. Reducing the amount of blue light you are exposed to before bed is a very simple process, with only a minor amount of adjustment needed.
First, set alarms to remind yourself to shut down approximately two hours before going to bed. At this time, you should shut off all lights that are not absolutely necessary for your evening routine. In addition, turn off the TV and computer, and limit the time you spend using your mobile devices. Instead of trying to unwind using electronics, use this time to get a head start on tomorrow’s house cleaning, read, shower, or just relax and ponder your day.
Additionally, you can download F.lux which will automatically adjust the brightness and tint of your screen to sync it with the sunrise and sunset of your geographic location. While the reddish tint and change in brightness may take some time to get used to, it will eventually seem natural and you won’t even notice.
Try tea and ZMA
The use of tea has been a go to for calming and relaxation for centuries. In addition to the standard cup of Chamomile Tea, many people find Yogi berry tea also has a calming effect as well. Instead of sleeping pills, try a supplement such as ZMA. The blend of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 has been known to produce a great sleep with vivid dreams. As with any supplement, only use when absolutely necessary and do not take consecutively for long periods of time.
Keep your bedroom cold
While cold seems to be the opposite of what you would expect for sleep, studies have shown that the ideal bedroom temperature is between 60 and 65 F. You will fall asleep faster with warm hands and feet, however, so if you choose to sleep in a cool room, you may want to consider wearing socks to bed.
Clear your head before bed
Finding ways to distract your mind and “turn off” your thought processes approximately 30-60 minutes before bed will lead to falling asleep faster and sleeping better. One way to “turn off” is to read fictional novels before bed. While non-fiction promotes learning and triggers brain activity, fiction helps the mind disconnect from reality for a brief time as the material has zero effect on the real world. It also allows the mind and body to relax as you read for enjoyment, not for learning.
You can also try evening meditation which will help calm your mind and relax your body. Meditation with deliberate and strategic mind clearing (letting go) is most effective.
Stretching before bed helps calm the aura and promotes a sense of well-being. The isolated stretching of each area for 30 seconds or longer will help loosen your muscles and promote greater comfort while trying to fall asleep. Focus specifically on stretches that open the chest muscles, and loosen your hamstrings and hips.
Keep your bedroom dark
While this seems like it is a given, many people don’t think about blocking the light that comes from places other than overhead. To make your bedroom as dark as possible remove or cover up all electronics that emit any sort of light (alarm clocks are the worst offender in this category). Invest in blackout curtains or shades to prevent early morning sun or streetlights from impacting your sleep. In neither of these options are feasible, consider getting a sleep mask. They are comfortable and effective in blocking light, without making large modifications to your bedroom and its contents.
Cater to your comfort
If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t sleep well. A comfortable mattress with a bamboo topper, such as our LunaBliss, will help your body relax and fall asleep faster. Combine that mattress with a memory foam pillow and a good set of microfiber sheets, and you will wonder why you haven’t made the change earlier.
Remember, you know your body best. We do not expect the all of the above solutions to work for everyone. While one suggestion may work for you, it may have little to no impact on someone else. To find out what works best, create a baseline of your current overall energy and productivity levels. To do this, maintain your standard routine for one week. During this time, record how you feel each morning, your accomplishments and energy throughout the day, and your energy levels just before you go to sleep each night.
Once you have a baseline developed, include one of the above suggestions into your routine for one week, again keeping track of energy levels and accomplishments. If the suggestion works, keep it as a part of your routine and add another suggestion. If it doesn’t work, move onto something else. Eventually, you will find what works for you and enjoy better, more meaningful sleep.