3 Ways to sleep better tonight!
Sleep. Something all of us need but many of us are not getting enough of. Life gets in the way, technology gets the best of us and before we know it, we are averaging less than 5 hours of sleep a night. Running on little sleep can have some major negative side effects in our day to day lives as well as our overall health. In fact, a lack of sleep can be the root cause of many underlying health issues. Sleep deprivation can cause brain fog, weight gain, slowed metabolism, depression, impaired judgement and increased risk of some serious health issues. Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure to name a few.
So, how do we increase the amount of sleep we get? Here are three simple things you can start implementing in your life today to start getting more sleep!
1. Breathe. Sounds simple right? We often forget the impact that breathing can have on our overall health and wellbeing not to mention our sleep. We often hear that meditating is good for our mental and physical health, but it can seem intimidating to start. So why not start with just breathing. Which is an aspect of meditating in itself! Here's a simple breathing exercise you can easily do before bed or at anytime during the day, that can really benefit your sleep and overall health.
4 - 7 - 8
Sit comfortably (or lie in your bed). Close your eyes. Then breath in for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts releasing all the air in your lungs. Repeat 3-5 times (or more) for a quick mental break. This simple breathing exercise is easy to implement and you might actually find yourself in a meditative state without even trying to get into one!
2. Unplug. Okay we probably hear this one all the time. Unplug from technology before going to bed. Easier said than done right. When you're kids are finally asleep and you finally get to sit down all you want to do is zone out with the T.V. and Instagram right??? Here's the thing. Our bodies have what is called a circadian rhythm. This is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. Your circadian rhythm works best when you have regular sleep habits, like going to bed when it gets dark and waking up in the morning as it gets light. When it gets dark outside and we sit in front of the T.V. or are on our screens for hours after dusk, we are exposed to their emitting blue light which disrupts our sleep cycle and makes us more alert. The best way to keep your circadian rhythm in check would be to dim the lights as it gets dark, turn off all technology and go to bed at dusk. OBVIOUSLY that's not happening for most people. Instead here's a few things you can do.
Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses - these have filters in their lenses that block or absorb blue light, and in some cases UV light, from getting through. Which can reduce your exposure to the blue light.
Read a book instead of scrolling on your phone - Spend some time in bed prior to turning out the lights reading an actual book instead of wasting time on your phone.
Rise and shine - Being an early bird can have some major benefits especially with your circadian rhythm. Waking with sun or exposing yourself to natural light as you wake up can signal to your brain that it's now wake time! Which decreases the production of sleep hormone which makes you sleepy. So instead of hitting snooze, get up and get some light going in your room to help you wake up.
3. Create a sleep cave - Your bedroom is called a "bed" room for a reason, it's centered around your bed which is your sleeping location. So make it directed towards sleeping! While we might like to have a bright, airy and welcoming room, the best way to get a good nights sleep is to create a "sleep cave" for our night time rest.
Eliminating any light exposure after dark - Bright alarm clocks, T.V., cell phone that light up in the middle of the night etc.
Keeping it cool - optimal sleeping temperature of a bedroom is between 60-67 degrees. You are more likely to get into a deep sleep and stay in a deep sleep if your body temperature is cooler. So turn down the AC and snuggle under those blankets!
Tune out unfamiliar sounds - neighbors dogs barking, sirens, your own dog waking and moving around can disrupt your sleep. Tune those out by adding some white noise like the hum of a fan or a sleep app with a white noise option.
Darken it up - Literally make it a cave! If you can, block out all the light by using black out curtains, or maybe a sleep mask.
Bottom line, don't disregard the importance of sleep! It can make the world of difference in your overall health and wellbeing. Try implementing a few of these strategies today and see if you start getting a better nights sleep.