Are you are one of those lucky people who fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow? Lucky you! For the rest of us (myself included for sure), getting a good night sleep is far from guaranteed, but it’s so incredibly important. Lack of sleep is linked to weight gain, brain fog, poor eating choices, bad moods, making mistakes (small and big), and so much more. I believe sleep is so important that a truly concerted and committed effort towards getting enough of it is highly warranted.
Here are my Top SIX Tips for getting better sleep!
1. Hang up! Disconnect!
You’ve likely heard of melatonin and that people sometimes take it to help them sleep better at night. But do you know what it is? It’s a hormone that regulates your body’s biological clock—it tells your body when it’s time to get up and when it’s time to go to sleep. Melatonin is secreted from the Pineal Gland—a small pea-sized gland located between the right and left hemispheres of your brain. The amount of melatonin secreted changes throughout the day, peaking at night. Higher levels of melatonin promote better sleep. Production of Melatonin is actually triggered by darkness and inhibited by daylight, or exposure to light of any kind—including the light emitting from the cell phone, tablet, or Kindle you're tucked into bed with. Really, bringing those devices into bed is like asking for a restless night. The LCD “blue light” from your phone inhibits melatonin and messes with your circadian rhythm (your natural sleep/wake clock). Before you get in bed, set your phone up to charge in another room and turn it off so you won’t be tempted to answer any texts or tweets – it’s your time to get ready for a good night’s sleep. P.S. yes, this includes TV too. Just disconnect!
2. Dim Lights!
This just makes sense considering the melatonin/light connection mentioned above, and this is also a lovely message to yourself that you are going to slow everything down and prepare for bed. This will calm your nervous system and set your mind and body up for sleep.
3. Hydrate all DAY!
It’s so easy to be busy and distracted all day and not notice that we’ve fallen behind on water consumption. At the end of the day, you might realize that you are quite thirsty, so you make up for it. The problem is, what comes in must "go" out and that might mean an unnecessary trip, or two, to the bathroom. If you’re like me, that can be a deal breaker right there. If I open my eyes too much, I’m awake. If I try to keep my eyes closed, I might just miscalculate and walk into a wall (okay, that has happened more than once - ouch!). I know it’s easier said than done, but maybe the possibility of “eliminating” the nightly bathroom trip alone can provide some inspiration to drink up during the day. And more so, be mindful of what your body needs. We often confuse thirst with hunger. Ask yourself throughout the day your body might need a little more water. Be more mindful of your hydrating patterns and notice whether or not you tend to make up for lost hydration at night. Observing is the first step to changing!
5. Read a BOOK!
Make a ritual of this. Reading is so calming (assuming you’re not reading the daily news). And, again, if it’s a ritual, just the pattern itself may be enough to lull you to sleep!
6. Get it OFF your Mind!
Who hasn’t tossed and turned for hours because that one thought or concern just won’t stop churning around in your head? Don’t let it take over. Just stop tossing and write it down. Maybe just writing down the thought will do the trick. If not, write down the thought along with a message to yourself about letting it go for now so you can sleep.