Sleep? What’s that? I am sure many of you are asking yourselves that considering the busy lifestyle many of us lead. With that busy lifestyle comes chronic lack of sleep. But what if I told you that prioritizing your sleep would actually make you less busy? I know that sounds crazy; however sleep is probably one of the most important things we can do. During a deep sleep is the true time that our body actually heals itself by repairing muscles, cells, and the nervous system. Without it our bodies can often be in fight or flight which causes a whole slew of problems from anxiety to joint aches to gut inflammation and weight gain to intense brain fog. By prioritizing your sleep you can help your body regulate itself which will help you see positive progress in all aspects of your life! I totally understand that getting great sleep is easier said than done, so that is why I’ve listed my top 5 ways to improve sleep. I hope these tips not only help you sleep better but also help you improve in all areas of your life.
- Create the habit of winding down at a certain time – Doing this is so simple and goes such a long way. Our bodies respond well to routine so picking a time that you can realistically wind down night after night will be so helpful. After just a few days of doing this your body will automatically start calming down. I suggest starting slow and picking a time that is just 10 minutes earlier than your normal bed-time. Slowly changing your bed-time will take the stress out and make you that much more likely to stick to it.
- Eat a diet low in added sugars and caffeine – What we eat plays a huge role in how we sleep. A diet that is high in sugar and caffeine can leave us awake all night long or falling asleep for a few hours and then waking up at 3 in the morning unable to go back to sleep. Studies show that if you limit sugar and caffeine after 11 am your body will easily fall into a healthy sleep routine. I know that at first the thought of limiting caffeine can sound daunting but once you get in a good sleep routine you will not crave that afternoon caffeine jolt. As for the sugar cravings, try an apple and almond butter in the afternoon. It will give you a natural burst of energy without the sugar crash.
- Going to bed device free – This can be a tough one but it is a true game changer. As awesome as our phones and tv’s are, they can also inhibit our sleep patterns. The blue light on the screen signals to the brain to be alert and awake which can cause you to be wide awake even on your sleepiest days. These devices also distract us and get us thinking about so much before bed which also can alter how we sleep. I was able to accomplish going to bed device free by gradually weaning away from my phone. I started with no screen time 30 minutes before bed and now have worked up to an hour before bed. It has truly changed the game for me, I am less stressed, I fall asleep quickly, and I wake up feeling much more refreshed. I hope this inspires you to give it a try!
- Calming tea & journaling before bed – So you’ve read the tips above and are wondering… “but how do I wind down before bed?” I get it! I found that journaling and having a warm cup of decaf tea really helps me relax. I look forward to it so it makes it that much easier to add into my routine every night. My favorites are Trader Joe’s Organic Turmeric Tea and Yogi Chamomile Tea. Experiment with things that help you wind down before bed and when you find the right fit stick to it.
5. Exercise – Last but not least it is the magic ingredient, exercise. It’s common knowledge that exercise is good for us in terms of building muscle and burning fat but exercise also plays a huge role in brain and hormone health. Both of which can contribute to or inhibit our sleep patterns. Studies show that just 30 minutes of exercise can help regulate the proper release of a hormone called Melatonin at night which is designed to help you sleep. Exercise also helps reduce anxiety and burn off extra energy which will aid in sleep as well. So if you needed another reason to exercise, here it is!