Do you struggle with sleep problems? If you lay awake and toss and turn each night, you may be wondering why, exactly, your brain decides to go into overdrive just as your body is ready to shut down. The answer to this question is as unique as you are, but there are some ways to help your mind and body get in sync so that you can get some sleep. It starts with your daily habits.
Keep reading for information on how to set a schedule that seduces your mind and body into slumber.
Welcome to Rose-Minded, a mental health blog and self-care brand supporting others through their journey. We love to encourage journaling, practicing self-care, and sharing your story to promote healing and recovery. Continue reading for guest writer Doug's surprisingly simple ways to change your daily habits for better sleep!
Daily Changes for Better Sleep
Create a bedtime routine.
The mind is a fickle thing. It enjoys stability and predictability. If you do not have an established bedtime routine, now is the perfect time to create one. Start by choosing a consistent bedtime each night. This should be approximately eight hours before you need to be up for the next morning. This means if you do not wake up until 8 AM, you should plan to be in bed by midnight.
Your bedtime routine should really start at dinner time, where, ideally, you’ll keep things light and nutritious. Casper, a mattress and bedding supplier, also suggests lowering your thermostat to approximately 65°, which can trigger drowsiness. As your house cools off, take a warm shower, and then shut down your electronic devices. Another great idea is to use a weekly guided journal, such as One Prompt a Week by Kay Uimari.
Choose a good book, grab a warm cup of decaffeinated, herbal tea, and find a cozy spot where you can cuddle up and read. Make a point to brush your teeth, remove your contact lenses, and, if applicable, wipe off your makeup so that you can head straight to bed about 60 minutes into your nighttime routine.
Stop drinking coffee after lunch.
Coffee is an adult’s best friend. It’s warm, reliable, and always ready when we are. It gives you an energy boost when you’re feeling sluggish, and it just tastes good. Unfortunately, coffee has a half-life, meaning that it breaks down over time. Most experts, including UC Davis’s Dr. Ajay Sampat, who spoke with Self in 2019, recommend leaving the caffeinated beverages alone after lunch.
Caffeine works by making your brain think it’s time to go full speed. It creates a chemical reaction that has serious physical side-effects. When you drink coffee, even in moderation, your pupils will dilate and your heart will beat faster. Your muscles will likely tighten up, and your liver injects a quick release of sugar into your bloodstream so that your body is ready with the energy it needs to tackle the day. But, coffee can stay in your system for hours, which is why it’s best to switch to decaf as the day wears on.
Don’t let alcohol fool you into thinking it will put you to sleep.
There’s nothing like a nightcap to help you sleep hard and long, right? Well, no, actually. While it’s true that alcohol is a sedative and will likely make you drowsy quickly, over the course of an eight hour night, it may actually keep you awake more than help you sleep. This is because alcohol has a disrupting effect on your circadian rhythm, the body’s natural 24-hour clock.
Alcohol can also lead to poor liver function, headaches, and nausea, each of which may be difficult to sleep through. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in the fact that alcohol reduces sleep latency, which is the time it takes to fall asleep once you lay down. Over time, however, the body becomes numb to the sedative effect of your bourbon or whiskey, and it will take more alcohol to render the same results.
Arrange your bedroom as a sleep-only space.
Our bedrooms often double as a place to congregate, watch TV, and hideaway with our devices. But bedrooms should honestly be used for two things: sleep and sex. When you work, participate in hobbies, or use your bedroom as your personal home theater, your mind becomes acclimated to associate these activities with this space. This means that your brain won’t see it as a place to relax and unwind.
Take the electronics out of your bedroom, and create a sanctuary that promotes sound sleep and cozy intimacy. Cool colors, such as blues and greens, on the wall, are soothing, and your bedding should remain neutral – no brightly-colored blankets or geometric pillows to confuse the senses.
You can add a light – a salt lamp is ideal for nighttime – if you don’t like to be completely in the dark. Use comfortable sheets and a pillow that matches your sleep style. If you sleep on your back, for example, you want something firm and supportive. As a side sleeper, you’ll also want something that can support your neck but may be more comfortable having the side of your face smashed into a soft surface, such as feathers, instead of foam.
Amplify your exercise habits.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind if you want to have better sleep. Advanced Sleep Medicine Services, Inc., explains that working out in the morning is best because it allows plenty of time for your body's temperature to drop, meaning that when you turn the thermostat down it will take less time to feel sleepy.
One thing you can do at night is yoga, which is low-impact and more relaxing on the mind than cardiovascular or strength exercises.
At the end of the day, your goal is to have a good night's sleep. But, it is what you do during the day that dictates whether or not that happens. There has never been a better time to change your routine when the sun is up so that you can rest when the moon is out. If you’re still looking for other ways to calm your mind and body, the following tips will also go a long way toward improving your sleep habits and hygiene.
Other Tips for Improving Sleep
Understand how sleep apnea, a potentially fatal health concern, can affect your slumber.
Consider non-intoxicating CBD honey in your evening tea; read reviews and check costs first.
Talk to a therapist if stress is keeping you up; you might find that talking things through helps you settle in.
Listen to nature sounds or guided meditation at night.
Change your sheets and bedding each season; cotton in the summer and flannel in the fall and winter.
We hope you enjoyed this guest writer's tips for improving your sleep! Comment below which of these tips have helped you, which ones you want to try, or any other tips you want to share for others reading this article. Share this article on social media so any friends/family who may also struggle sleeping at night can benefit from these tips as well.
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About the Author
Doug Briscoe created his website, mentallyfit.info, after dealing with years of depression that led to alcoholism. After undergoing treatment, he decided he wanted to reach out to others who are struggling as well and turned to writing.