Let’s talk about sleep (and how none of us get enough of it). By now, we’re all aware of how important sleep is. There’s piles of information and calculations about how much sleep we need and how it benefits us physiologically. The trouble is, you can lie down for 8 hours, but that still might not be enough. It’s important to get good quality sleep. Some have the luxury of falling asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and waking up feeling okay 8 hours later. For the rest of you, I’d like to share some tips and tricks for how to get a good night’s sleep.
It’s actually a little ironic that I write this post today, as I’m halfway through a week spent alone at home. I cannot sleep when I’m home alone. All my good sleep rituals fly out the window and I become a caffeine-ridden zombie. I’m naturally an anxious individual, and a by-product of that is paranoia. I can lay awake for hours playing out all the scary scenarios that might happen and wondering if I left a door unlocked. My imagination is very active and it seriously impairs both my ability to fall asleep, and to sleep well.
So, this post doesn’t really apply to those situations. Today, I’m just sharing the few tricks that have helped me get a good, restful night of sleep on a regular night. I absolutely don’t follow all of these every night, though I probably should. When I do, though, I find that I sleep solid through the night and wake up feeling pretty good. Once I’ve figured out how to sleep alone, I’ll let my fellow anxious home-aloners in on those secrets ;)
HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Watch what you consume
While alcohol can certainly make you feel sleepy, and contribute to falling asleep easier in most cases, it also contributes to poor quality sleep. Alcohol interrupts your REM sleep, which is necessary for feeling rested. (WebMD) If you want something to sip on in the evening to relax your body, try an herbal tea instead. (I love this yoga blend and this lavender chamomile best).
Also, while its important to stay hydrated throughout the day, and I’m known to guzzle water at all hours, watch how much you drink in the hour or two leading up to bed. Too much liquid before bed can lead to bathroom wake-ups in the middle of the night, interrupting all those quality z’s.
Black it out
You’ll want as dark a room as possible to signal to your brain that it’s time for bed. This varies from person to person, but from my experience, even the littlest bit of light can keep me up. Last year I started using a sleeping mask, and it’s changed my life. Putting it on is now like flipping a switch, signalling my brain to fall asleep. My favorite part is that when I take it off, I can still experience the natural light coming through the windows, since I don’t have great curtains. If you don’t want something on your face, opt for good window coverings to block out the light.
This one is two-fold. First, the blue light emitted from most screens (televisions, phones, computers, etc.) simulates daylight, tricking your brain into thinking its earlier in the day, and therefore not time for bed. By not looking at screens in the hour or two before bed, you allow your brain to get into night mode. Lowering the lights in your home can also help with this transition. The second part of this is what you do instead of watching TV or flipping through Instagram. I replace my screen time with reading, but a relaxing skincare routine, a bath, or a conversation with your significant other (over a mug of tea!) have the effect of calming your mind. Stepping away from the overwhelm of social media and stress of your favorite TV drama and instead reading a book or otherwise relaxing gives not only your eyes, but your brain a rest.
If I don’t feel perfectly comfy, there’s no way I’m going to fall asleep. Find a great pair of pajamas that keep you warm or cool, depending on the season, and that are comfortable to wear all night. For me, I can’t wear loose pants to bed because it drives me mad when the pant legs ride up throughout the night! I have a set of shorts and short sleeve top for warmer months and a set of leggings and a long sleeve top for cold months. Just the act of putting on my pajamas (not just random loungewear) puts me in bedtime mode.
In addition to what you’re wearing, set up your room for the ideal temperature. Studies show you sleep best in a slightly cool room. (National Sleep Foundation) Crack a window to cool the room down, and adjust your bed covers as needed so you’re not freezing, or sweating.
Follow a routine
The biggest takeaway from the above tips? Routines are everything for a good night’s sleep. When I follow these tricks in my preferred order (more in my evening routine, here), my body and mind feel relaxed and ready to fall asleep. Our brains pick up on these triggers, and after following a routine for a while, you’ll begin to notice your body automatically responding to it.
Do you have any other tips for getting a good night’s sleep? (And am I the only one who just can’t calm down when they’re home alone?!)