Some of the top creators, thinkers, and entrepreneurs swear by a good night’s sleep. Arianna Huffington even wrote a book about it. In her book, The Sleep Revolution, she says, “By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are.”
Along with refocusing, sleep helps our bodies and minds stay healthy, alert, and working to its fullest potential. We all know how important sleep is, but not all of us are lucky enough to achieve a deep slumber. If you’re struggling to get your ZZZs, skip the prescription sleeping pills and try these eight tips instead.
- Use the Right Pillow
Everyone knows having a good mattress is a valuable investment, but many people neglect to find and use the pillow that matches their sleep position. Getting the right pillow helps you avoid waking up stiff or readjusting positions throughout the night. If you sleep on your back, consider placing a pillow under your knees so they remain slightly bent. This can help relieve your lower back of stress. For side sleepers, tucking a pillow between your knees can help your hips maintain proper alignment. And last but not least, stomach sleepers should use a flat pillow to prevent neck strain.
- Take Natural Supplements
There are a number of natural alternatives to sleeping pills that can help you sleep better without the concerning side effects. Valerian root, an herb, is believed to help you stay asleep longer, while melatonin may be helpful in controlling your sleep and wake cycles. Magnesium helps muscles relax and reduces cortisol, also known as your “stress hormone,” which can keep you up at night. There are countless other supplements you can try. Just remember many of these supplements have not been studied extensively enough to make definitive claims regarding their effectiveness.
- Keep Electronic Devices Away from Your Bed
Blue light emitted from electronic devices can disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain that controls your sleep and wake cycles. With the brain’s high sensitivity to artificial light, exposure to such blue lights inhibits the release of melatonin, thus reducing the quality and quantity of your sleep. Keep your phone, TV, and other electronic devices outside of your bedroom and get in the habit of turning off these devices one hour prior to your bedtime.
- Create a Bedtime Ritual
It may sound boring, but your body craves routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps your body stick to its internal clock, also known as its circadian rhythm. The more in tune your internal clock is, the better it can monitor your body’s levels of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. Along with sticking to a consistent bedtime—including on the weekends—establish a ritual you follow each night. This could include prepping your meals for the next day, doing yoga, or reading.
- Maintain a Cool Environment
A cool bedroom is essential for a good night’s rest. When you get into bed and try to fall asleep, your body initiates sleep by decreasing its temperature. If your room is hot, or you just took a hot shower, it will take longer for your body to drop in temperature, and therefore it may take longer to fall asleep. For optimal sleep, keep your room between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit and limit hot showers at least two hours before bedtime.
- Embrace the Darkness
Along with a cool environment, a dark room has been proven to enhance the quality of your sleep. Bright light at night can disrupt your circadian rhythm and, as a result, affect when you feel sleepy or awake. Best practice is to hide any digital clocks or glowing electronics away from view and utilize black out shades and/or an eye mask.
- Keep Active
Getting your heart pumping and body sweating earlier in the day can help you get a better night’s sleep. Exercise fights muscle tension, reduces stress, and helps tire your body so you’re ready to rest when it’s time to sleep. The key is to exercise consistently. Aim for at least twenty minutes of exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk around your neighborhood. The jury’s still out on the best time of day to exercise, so get active whenever you enjoy it most and work it into your schedule.
- De-Stress and Unwind
There’s nothing worse than trying to fall asleep when your mind is running a mile a minute. Cut yourself off from work emails, social media, and anything else that may excite or upset you a few hours before sleep. Encourage your mind and body to slow down by reading, listening to calming music, meditating, or doing a restorative yoga practice. Incorporate this into your daily practice to help avoid tossing and turning each night.
Feeling energized in the morning after a solid night’s sleep is one of the best feelings in the world. Start channeling your inner Arianna Huffington with a few of these tips to improve your tomorrow—tonight.