Sleep has profound effects on us and it can lead to a plethora of problems when we don’t get enough of it. The more obvious of these being fatigue, lower cognitive performance, daytime sleepiness, and worsening mood. But did you know that not getting enough sleep can also contribute to anxiety and/ or depression, cardiovascular disease, increased inflammation, weakening immune system, and increased risk of obesity?
The more we uncover about sleep, the more it stands out as absolutely imperative to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. You know about the importance of creating a daily routine, but have you heard about sleep routines? Having an erratic sleep schedule can leave you feeling more tired, less focused and generally just “out of it.” We’ve created this scientifically proven sleep ritual to help you fall asleep faster and improve your quality of life both in and out of bed.
Step 1: Prep your body
Exercise every day! According to the National Sleep Foundation, even as little as 10 minutes of physical exercise can improve sleep quality. If you’re craving more relaxing movement, try this 10-minute yoga sequence to help you sleep.
Eat smart! Choose foods like these superfoods that will encourage sleep, rather than energize you in the evenings.
Step 2: Schedule in screen-free time
The latest research on blue light exposure at night (which we get from all of our technology) shows that it not only suppresses the production of melatonin in our bodies, but it is even linked to problems like diabetes, certain types of cancer and migraines.
Another study found that the more interactive the technology used before bed, the more difficulties people experienced falling asleep and the lower quality of sleep was reported. The science is overwhelming; gift yourself a better night sleep by committing to 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed.
Step 3: Set the mood
Create rituals to signal that it’s nighttime to your body. This could be as simple as closing the curtains or dimming the lights in your home, releasing some aromatherapy, or lighting candles.
Step 4: Relax your body, relax your mind
It may not come as a surprise to learn that eliminating the day’s stress can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. There are many ways to calm the body and mind, so find what works for you and integrate it into your routine.
You could take a hot shower or bath, drink a warm herbal tea, do a mindfulness meditation, or perhaps some deep breathing. This can be as simple as taking one hand on your belly, one on your heart and taking ten deep, conscious breaths. This will quickly activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxing you. With consistency, your chances of success will greatly improve.
Step 5: Set a bedtime
Of course life can be unpredictable, but aiming to sleep at a consistent time is a simple and powerful way to help your body prepare for a more restful night of sleep. If this feels intimidating, don’t worry; here’s an easy way to gradually introduce a sleep schedule.
Step 6: Set your intentions
Another simple way to take back control of your sleep is to set an intention as you lay in bed. It could be to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly through the night. The power of positive thinking goes a long way; it certainly couldn’t hurt.
To give yourself the best chance of a beautiful, restful night’s sleep, be sure to: move your body and be mindful of what you’re eating in the evenings, upgrade your phone or TV time for a book or journal, create a relaxing ambiance, relax your body and mind, and go to sleep at a consistent time. Over time, these steps should move you towards a space of much improved sleep quality.