What to Do Before Bed: A Guide to Optimize Your Sleep
* Verified by a US-based board-certified doctor.
If you regularly don't get the proper amount of sleep, it can throw off everything in your brain. You can have higher levels of stress, and it can be harder to concentrate throughout the day.
There are so many distractions in the world, and we are so used to multitasking that we constantly force ourselves to go beyond our limits without even noticing.
If you struggle with difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, there are a handful of amazing natural remedies for sleep to explore! They are easier than you think, and they will help you wake up energized every single morning!
Reduce Blue Light
A significant contributor to getting the proper amount of sleep is light exposure. Increasing your exposure to sunlight or bright lights during the day keeps your circadian rhythm in check and is beneficial to your sleeping habits.
However, having too much exposure to the light coming from screens can negatively impact your sleep. Screens, like TV's and cell phones, give off blue light. At night, this blue light affects your circadian rhythm by making your brain believe you are absorbing daylight.
Absorbing this light leads to a decrease in your brain's melatonin production, therefore making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
One good way to avoid blue light late is to switch your screens to have a blue light filter. That way, you will absorb less blue light and have a much more restful night's sleep!
Drink Less Caffeine
Let's be honest; there's no way most of us can give up caffeine! It's what starts, and keeps us going on our busiest days! Drinking a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea can give you that boost you need to be at your best!
However, when it comes to getting a great night's sleep, there is a pretty clear window in which you should consume caffeine. Consuming too much caffeine can harm your sleep pattern.
It's been reported that caffeine stays active inside the body for about 6 to 8 hours. For the best possible sleep, try not to have caffeine 6 to 8 hours before bed. Your safest bet would be not to have it after 4 pm. Feel free to consume decaffeinated teas and coffee, if you have a craving!
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Have a Consistent Routine
Consistency is vital in so many aspects of life. The most important thing to keep consistent is your sleep! Your brain likes patterns, so creating a healthy sleep pattern will increase your sleep quality over time.
It can be a difficult practice to wake up and fall asleep at the same time every day. With differing work schedules and social schedules, maintaining that consistency all week will take some work.
It is worth the effort, though. Studies have shown that inconsistent sleep routines can lead to a lack of your body's melatonin production!
So, if possible, create a sleep schedule that is appropriate for your lifestyle and stick to it! Your body will thank you.
Speaking of consistency, having a regular exercise schedule can be essential to those who have difficulty sleeping.
Exercise has been proven to significantly impact sleep quality, making it one of the best natural remedies for sleep! Studies have shown that exercising regularly can reduce time to fall asleep by half and increase total sleep time by nearly 18%!
One rule to follow is to try to complete your exercises while the sun is still up. While there is no proof that it's incredibly disruptive to sleep, exercise increases adrenaline and epinephrine levels. These two chemicals are stimulants, so having those taper off for a few hours before bedtime is beneficial.
Take Time to Relax
Taking the time to wind down in the evening is an essential natural remedy for sleep. If falling asleep often gives you trouble, try to find a way to calm your mind and body before heading to bed.
People find success in calming their mind by meditating or receiving a relaxing massage. You can also put on relaxing music or focus on reading a book. These are great ways for your body to fall into a relaxed state and aid your sleep quality!
You may even want to consider taking a hot shower or bath! Particularly in older people having a hot shower or bath about an hour before bed can help you fall into a deeper and more restful night's sleep!
Put Down Your Phone
I know, putting down your cell phone today is a hard feat! We are in constant communication, and there is endless information at our fingertips!
As we discussed earlier, cell phone screens produce blue light that can mess with your body's circadian rhythm. That's one of the most essential reasons to put away your phone.
Not looking at your phone is just the first step. It is highly suggested that whenever possible, you put your phone on silent or airplane mode, so it does not disturb you as you try to relax and fall asleep. Being pulled out of falling asleep can have adverse effects on your sleep quality.
In some situations, it isn't possible to have your phone off, especially in case of emergencies. However, if possible, reducing the number of distractions and disruptions to your sleep is important for those who struggle with getting restful sleep.
Be Wary of Long Naps
Did you know that having a short nap during the day is part of your circadian rhythm? Humans naturally lose a bit of energy during the mid-afternoon hours. It can be extremely beneficial (if you have the opportunity) to take a power nap!
Taking a mid-day siesta that lasts about 20 minutes can increase alertness and productivity! While this practice is a great way to get energy mid-day and keep your body in its natural rhythm, there are a few things to watch out for.
Sleeping too long will put you into a deep sleep, which can have the opposite effect as a light nap. It can result in you being more groggy and tired than before. Also, you will want to make sure you nap right around lunchtime. Taking a late nap can make you less tired at night and create more difficulty falling asleep.
Make Your Bedroom Comfortable
Set the mood when you are ready to fall asleep. Too much light and noise pollution in the bedroom can make relaxing challenging, and diminish sleep quality.
Make sure there aren’t too many lights in the bedroom coming from alarm clocks or various other lights. You also want to make sure your bedroom is an environment of comfort. Having too much clutter can be subliminally irritating and can cause sleep problems.
You want your bedroom to be a space that you find comforting and relaxing. That is going to make this one powerful remedy for a good night's sleep.
Optimize Your Productivity With Better Sleep
Better sleep means better productivity. Having a restful night's sleep can lead to a cycle of more productivity, less stress, and more energy to do the things you love. Having natural energy that doesn't lead to a mid-day crash can truly improve your quality of life.
The vitamins in natural energy sources can have benefits in not only energy, but also mood, focus, and can decrease your stress levels!
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Making changes to your routine and what you consume are fantastic natural remedies for sleep. From changing when you exercise to changing when you look at your phone, these simple adjustments can make a world of difference.
Also, watching what you consume can have significant benefits on sleep and daytime productivity! Remember to be mindful of what works for you and what changes you can make to give yourself the best night's sleep you've ever had.