Eight Simple Ways to Sleep Better Tonight

Have you ever noticed how “a good night’s sleep” cures everything from a bad day, hurt feelings, recovery from the common cold and even surgical procedures?

Doctors and moms routinely prescribe rest when our bodies are in trouble, yet we tend to be rather cavalier about our need for sleep when we’re not under doctor’s orders.  It’s as if we’ve been programmed to consider the need for sleep as a sign of weakness.  Only babies need lots of sleep.

The truth is, healthy sleep is foundational to our overall health.  When our bodies are well-rested, our mood, brain function, immune system, metabolism and more are in balance. Still, whether it’s misplaced machismo, overscheduling, or actual trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, at least 30 percent of American adults and almost 70 percent of teens don’t get enough of the recommended amount of nightly sleep (CDC, 2016).

  • 7-9 hours for adults
  • 9-10 hours for teens
  • 10+ hours for kids

Just as food and water are necessary for overall good health, sleep, or lack of it can contribute to many of the most common, chronic ailments including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression and heart disease.

To reduce the impact of poor sleep on our overall health, we need to fall asleep quickly, sleep soundly through the night and wake refreshed to have consistent energy throughout the day.

If trying to get a good night’s sleep is keeping you up at night, try incorporating these habits into your daily routine:

Follow These to Get More Zzzzzs

  1. Stick to a good sleep routine, going to bed and waking at approximately the same time throughout the week and weekend.  No sleeping in on weekends.
  2. Get outside.  Just 10 minutes of natural sunlight in the morning will boost your melatonin levels that evening. Melatonin is a hormone that helps us sleep and being in the sunlight is the best way to ensure healthy melatonin levels at night.
  3. Balance your blood sugar
    • Avoid large meals before bedtime. Going to bed on a full belly may help you fall asleep initially, but when blood sugar crashes later in the night, it can negatively impact your overall metabolism, raise cortisol levels, diminish melatonin production and cause you to wake in the middle of the night. 
    • Have a healthy, blood-sugar-balancing snack before bed, if needed, to avoid blood sugar crash in the middle of the night.  Examples:  1/2 banana with almond butter, 1/2 sweet potato, 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 cup golden milk.
    • Avoid alcohol before bed.  Drinking alcohol before bed has many of the same effects as eating a big meal. 
  4. Avoid caffeine after noon (or entirely) and have no more than one serving of alcohol (if any) with dinner.  Consider swapping out your evening glass of wine with a cup of relaxing herbal tea.
  5. Unplug yourself from electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime, including smartphones, tablets, and the television, and keep them entirely out of the bedroom. Also consider setting your devices to “night mode” after sundown to help limit blue light exposure.
  6. Keep the bedroom cool.   Studies show that people sleep best when the temperature is between 60-65 degrees.  Warm socks and just the right blankets will keep you comfy. 
  7. Exercise earlier in the day.  While exercise is good for healthy sleep-wake cycles, try to avoid late-night exercise. Sun exposure and exercise in the morning and mid-day can help reset healthy sleep-wake cycles.
  8. Chill out in the evening with relaxing activities and dim lights. Meditate, do deep breathing exercises, read a calming book (not the latest thriller) in bed if you need help shutting off your brain.

Pulling it all Together

Our goal is to fall asleep quickly, sleep soundly through the night, wake refreshed, and have consistent energy throughout the day.  When our bodies are well-rested, our mood, brain function, immune health, metabolism and more are in balance.  Give yourself time to recoup from long-term sleep deprivation; it’s not going to happen overnight … but with these eight tips you can be on your way to better sleep tonight.

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