Four Part Sleep Series 2/4: Good Sleep Strategies
Last week we went into why sleep is important and this week I want to go over some strategies to help you improve your sleep.
Sleep often is the first thing that we squeeze out of our schedules when we feel busy or stressed – but we pay a huge health price for that. You want to keep your sleep bank in better shape than your actual bank!
To improve your account, here’s some strategies to get sleep rich!
Spend more time outside during daylight. A lot of our daily world happens inside – especially in the cold winters! We miss a huge part of what our bodies need and that is light. Take your work breaks outside in sunlight (but no sun is okay too – fresh air is good for the soul), exercise outside, or walk your dog a time or two during the day.
Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day and if you work from home, try to move your desk closer to the window. The more light you experience during the day, the more rested you’ll feel as the night approaches.
Get movement! I mean...you knew this was coming right? I can’t not talk about the benefits of exercising during the day to get your body ready for sleep later in the night. People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
Be aware of what you eat and drink. Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime. Do your best to limit caffeine and nicotine since these are stimulants that can disrupt sleep. You should also avoid big meals before bed – try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening.
Write it down or journal. Residual stress, worry and anger from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well – as well as keeping a to-do list in your head that you don’t want risk forgetting. Try developing a relaxing bedtime ritual to help you prepare your mind for sleep, such as writing out what you want to remember or taking a few minutes to journal. Sometimes dumping it out of your mind onto paper can be all you need to let it go for the night.
Improve your sleep area. Sometimes even small changes to your environment can make a big difference to your quality of sleep. Try keeping your room dark, cool and quiet. Stock up with comfy blankets and pillows you love. The more inviting, the better!
And some other quick tips you can consider that have helped me most:
· Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day as much as you can.
· Use the hour before bed for down time (reading, writing, calming music).
· Have a warm, relaxing shower or bath before bed.
· Instead of coffee or soda, have water or herbal tea.
Come back next week - I'll be giving you some coping strategies to help you when sleep just isn't going to happen!