When was the last time you felt truly rested after a good night’s sleep? If you answered anything other than “this morning”, they you should definitely read on. No, I’m not about to tell you that you need eight hours of sleep every night to feel rested and refreshed. I am, however, going to tell you that it’s not about the quantity of your sleep – it’s about the quality.
There are so many factors that may contribute to quality of sleep, some you may already know about, some may be new concepts, some you may know about – but refuse to believe and accept, because they will require you to make some lifestyle changes.
Let’s start with Nutrition
Do you pay attention to what and when you eat?
Here are a few things to start taking notice of:
Sugar and caffeine – the two substances that can wreak havoc on your sleep (among contributing to other health issues which are a topic for another article). Now, before you say “there is no way I’m giving up my coffee”, I am not telling you that you need to do that. Pay attention to the timing – by all means have that cup of coffee in the morning, but try to not over-do it and no caffeine after noon. Instead, drink water when you feel tired, it will help to re-energize you.
When it comes to sugar, it’s ideal not to have any processed sugar at all. But again, let’s be realistic and allow ourselves treats without feeling guilty about it. Once again, pay attention to your timing and limit/eliminate sugar intake after noon. Better option is to stick with natural sweetness of fresh fruit.
Let’s talk dinner now, what’s on your plate at dinner time? Do you load up on carbs? I am not someone who will ever tell you to give up carbs, ever! Complex and some simple carbs are good and we need them for energy. Key word here is energy though. Even good carbs can affect your ability to wind down and rest, because their purpose is to give you energy. So unless you plan to exercise after dinner, its best to skip carbs with dinner. Load up your plate with lots and lots of veggies and lean protein, even some healthy fats. Veggies will fill you up, but won’t leave you feeling heavy and bloated. A great substitute for pretty much any carb is cauliflower, I mean there is literally nothing you can’t make out of cauliflower these days, right?
Crowd out late night snacking. For most of us, those cravings for late night snacks have nothing to do with being hungry for food. Cravings are mental and require distraction. So, read a book, do some yoga, play a game. If you really struggle with this one, herbal tea is a great substitute for late night snacking
Next up is your Environment
Clean out the clutter in your bedroom – “cluttered space equals cluttered mind”, you may feel the energy of clutter in your bedroom in the form of stress in your mind. If your dresser has a pile of clothes on it and it’s the last thing you see before you go to sleep and the first thing you see when you wake up, what message do you think it’s subconsciously sending to your mind?
Remove all electronics from your room – those devices emit blue light (even when they’re off) – that light can affect your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone which affects quality and quantity of your sleep
Reduce exposure to light and sound – using eye mask, fan/white noise machine , ear plugs.
Daily Rhythms – small changes you can make, before you are ready to make those bigger lifestyle changes
Create a bedtime routine – go to bed and wake up same time every day (even on weekends)
Experiment with restorative evening activities – yoga, meditation, relaxing bath/shower, lotions, essential oils, etc
Reduce “busy brain” at night – keep a journal near your bed and jot down any thoughts you may have before going to bed (this way you don’t have to worry about forgetting things you’re thinking about and can come back to them in the morning)
Do you have your own rituals you like to follow that help you with sleep?? Comment below and share what works well for you