Did you know there are some easy ways everyone can get better rest? Some of them involve big changes in your life, but others are fairly simple and can make a big difference. Here are some ways anyone can start to get better sleep today without spending a dime.
- Exercise - Daily activity helps your body's routines. Morning or afternoon exercise seems to be the best, as late evening activity can confuse your body into alertness.
- Reduce Stress - This can take many forms, but stress during the day can haunt us at night. Don't bottle up your stress in the daytime unless you plan on tossing and turning all night long.
- Journal - This can be a part of stress reduction, but it also helps people whose brains just seem to get started the moment their head hits the pillow. Doing a "brain dump" into a diary right before bedtime can free your mind from all the odd thoughts that decide to intrude right before you go to bed.
- Limit Caffeine and Stimulants - That late afternoon pick-me-up might keep you awake a lot longer than you planned. A good cutoff for caffeine consumption for many people is a couple of hours after lunchtime at the latest.
- Say "No" to Nightcaps - Alchohol also interferes with your sleep because it has to be processed and burned off. Alcohol may make you feel tired, but your sleep will be disrupted and you won't wake up well-rested, even if you do pass out early. If you do drink, stop at least 4 hours before bedtime.
- Eat More Cherries - Since we told you what you shouldn't have, why not give you some advice on what treats do help you get to sleep better? Cherries naturally have melatonin, the sleep hormone. Tart cherry juice has been proven to help people sleep longer and deeper. As a bonus, it also helps in muscle recovery after workouts!
- Go Outside - Getting bright light in the daytime, especially in the early morning hours, has been shown to help people get better sleep at night. This step helps with stress reduction and can be paired with exercise. Win-win!
- Dim the Lights at Bedtime - Similar to the previous step, this has to do with how our bodies process light. All screens - phones, tablets, televisions, and computers - emit blue light which is especially disruptive to sleep patterns. If you have to be on your device a few hours before bedtime, consider adding nighttime settings that will filter the blue light during night time hours.
- Blackout Curtains - That's right, any light can interfere with melatonin production, even street lights outside. Use blackout curtains and turn off any night lights to tell your body it's time for bed.
- Bedtime Routines - Figure out when it's bedtime, and stick to it. Going to bed at the same time every night can train your body when to get sleepy. When you change your pattern, your body gets off balance. Even an hour of delayed sleep can give you a mini case of jet lag, so take this one seriously. Create a routine that includes the above tips, plus anything that works for you, so you start to feel tired on cue.
Of course, there are many other steps you can take if you're not getting good sleep. Poor rest is all too common, and solutions can be as simple as changing a routine or as complicated as getting a sleep study to find out what's bothering you. Sometimes a new mattress or pillow can change everything. If you can't figure out how to get better rest, talk to one of our Sleep Specialists. We're here to help.