The average adult is supposed to get anywhere from 6-8 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, far too many people fall short of that target. Not getting enough sleep night after night not only will leave you feeling tired and drowsy, but the long-term effects can be far more serious.
A lack of sleep can put you at a greater risk of a variety of different health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
If you have the best of intentions and you still can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep, it can be frustrating. Some people struggle with chronic sleep conditions or insomnia. But, there are things you can do and steps you can take to get a better night’s sleep. When you do, you will feel more well-rested, relaxed and you will also reduce your risk of developing a serious health problem in the future.
So, what steps can you take to get a good night’s sleep?
1. Increase Natural Light During the Day
A better night’s sleep actually starts by changing some of your habits during the day. One of the best things you can do is to increase the natural light that you are exposed to during the day. Sunlight can help your circadian rhythm to stay on track. That’s the cycle that tells your body when it is time to sleep, and when it’s time to be awake.
If you spend most of your days indoors, or in front of a computer, you could be disturbing those circadian rhythms because you are not getting enough sunlight to trigger your body’s natural responses. Do your best to get some daily sun exposure. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference in how well you sleep at night. I include going for a walk as a part of my daily routine, this helps me to unwind, get some sunlight and get some exercise all at the same time.
2. Limit Your Caffeine Intake
You might reach for a cup of coffee in the morning to “wake up,” and while there’s nothing wrong with that, try to avoid reaching for several more throughout the day. Caffeine can help you to stay awake during the day by giving you a jolt of energy, but consuming it too late in the day can make it difficult to get the rest your mind and body needs. It’s a good idea to limit your intake throughout the day, but if you feel as though you need it to “keep going,” then make sure you have a caffeine cut off at a certain time. Caffeine can stay in your system anywhere from 6-8 hours, so try to limit your intake at least 6 hours before you plan on going to bed, if not longer.
3. Develop a Nighttime Routine
Does each night look a bit different for you? Do you go to bed at different times? Maybe some nights you watch television in your room while other nights you read a book. Maybe you have every intention of falling asleep but you end up losing an hour or two while mindlessly scrolling on your phone or watching just one more episode of the latest Netflix series. One of the best ways to set yourself up for sleeping success is to develop a nighttime routine.
Everyone’s routine will be a bit different, but there are a few concrete steps to keep in mind. First, try to go to bed at the same time each night. This will get your mind and body in the right “mode” for winding down and sleeping.
Your routine can consist of anything from brushing your teeth and washing your face to reading a few pages from a book or doing some light stretches before shutting off the light. I switch on a Salt lamp beside my bed every night, as it gives off a nice cozy glow, the light is not too bright and I don’t have to get out of the bed to switch off the main bedroom light. The more you fall into a routine, the more your system will recognize that it is time to sleep.
4. Avoid Blue Light
While you already know the importance of getting enough sunlight in your day, not all light is created equally. The light that comes from computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices is often called “blue light”.
Blue light can make it difficult to fall asleep because it causes activity in the brain. So, while you might think that scrolling through your phone before bed will help you to fall asleep, it could actually be hindering your sleep. Turn off all of your devices at least an hour before you go to bed. Or, make your bedroom a “screen-free” zone, so you are not tempted to look at your phone or laptop before you try to fall asleep.
5. Clear Your Mind
Whether you choose to make it a part of your sleep routine or just something that starts to come naturally to you, try to clear your mind as much as possible before bed.
This will be a practice that is different for everyone. For some people, it might mean meditation or a few minutes of mindfulness. For others, listening to quiet music, reading, or journalling might be the best way to clear your head of any overwhelming thoughts that might otherwise keep you awake. Don’t be afraid to try out a few different techniques to determine what works best for you when it comes to clearing your mind and fully preparing yourself for a great night of deep rest.
Sleep is the best meditation. – Dalai Lama
Getting Better Sleep Each Night – It Is Possible!
As you can see, getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t have to involve changing too many things about your daily routine. By adjusting a few habits and making sleep a priority, you can get a better night’s sleep almost immediately. Try some of these simple steps tonight, and start experiencing the rest your mind and body truly deserve.
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