Creative Sleep Tips for a Better Night of ZZZ's
Having trouble sleeping these days? If so, you’re certainly not alone. The stress of the pandemic has contributed to many a sleepless night for people all over the world. If this resonates with you, read on. We’re going to learn how to upgrade our sleep routine in 13 easy steps.
Don’t take naps
Don’t take naps. Yep, I said it! Naps work for some people, but not for all. For some, taking that afternoon siesta can make it difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable hour at night. Naps can actually sabotage your efforts to get better sleep. In addition, many studies have shown how taking naps can make you more sleepy during the day. If you’re in the habit of taking daytime siestas on a regular basis, but your sleep is terribly compromised at night, consider cutting the nap out of your routine and see if your sleep gets better.
Stop drinking coffee by noon
Are you somebody who loves an afternoon latte as a special treat? That late afternoon pick me up is a habit for so many. But, it could be making going to bed at a reasonable hour a difficult feat. Caffeine stays in the system for hours. In fact, it’s said that it takes several hours for coffee to leave your system. An espresso you drink at 4pm, for instance, will still be stimulating you at 9 or 10pm, making it more difficult to sleep than if you’d had the espresso at noon.
What’s the temperature in your bedroom?
You need to sleep in a cool bedroom. That’s all there is to it. Toasty temps in your boudoir aren’t great for deep sleep. Ever tried to get a night of zzz’s during the summer when the AC’s broken? I remember two weeks in June in New Orleans. Sleep was nearly impossible until we got the AC fixed. You probably know this to be true, but do you know the range the experts deem ideal for sleep? It’s between 60 and 67 degrees F. When you get your bedroom to the perfect temp for you, you’ll want to take one little step further in ensuring a restful night. Keep your feet warm. Whether it means wearing socks in the winter or keeping them snug under a down comforter, when your feet are warm, and the rest of your body naturally cools down to sleep, you can relax and drift off much more easily.
Limit time on your devices
We all spend so much time looking at our devices. At this moment, I’m typing on my laptop, looking into the glaring computer screen. It’s in the morning, so it’s not as if I’m going to bed anytime soon. Which is good. We should all do more screen time activities during work hours, and limit screen time once the evening rolls around if we want better quality sleep. Why? Because the blue light that our devices emit can disrupt our quality of sleep. It can also make us more attentive.
Blue light is also believed to disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythms. If you’re used to scrolling through social media or reading books on your laptop in the hours before bedtime, you may want to change your ways. That is, if you want to improve your sleep quality. And if you simply cannot put the Ipad down, you may want to consider investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. They’re effective at minimizing the ill-effects of screen time. If you don’t want to purchase these glasses, simply put down your device an hour or two before bed time, and read a book or magazine instead. Write in your journal. Or simply sit quietly with a candle at your bedside table. Maybe do some yoga in bed. There are many ways to wind down that don’t involve a screen.
Don’t booze it up right before bedtime
So many of us like to tipple our way to bed. I know I’m guilty of having a glass of wine with dinner, and one with some dark chocolate for dessert. And sometimes this indulgence happens just an hour (or even less) before I hit the hay. But, the thing about alcohol is that while it may help us fall asleep, it can easily disrupt our sleep.
The key to imbibing while improving sleep is to enjoy your drinks from say, 5pm-7pm if you go to bed at 10pm. Having your last sip three hours before bedtime won’t sabotage your efforts to become a better sleeper. So, enjoy a happy hour drink, and enjoy one with dinner. Then sip some water or mint or chamomile tea from there on out. And if you don’t want to be up all night emptying your bladder, try not to drink anything in the last hour or hour and a half before bedtime.
Those of us lacking in magnesium need to take a supplement before bedtime. Magnesium is the sleep mineral, and if you don’t have enough of it, your sleep may suffer. Studies like this one, published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences explains further just how effective magnesium can be when it comes to getting good sleep. Magnesium supplements come in all shapes and sizes. Choose one that’s more bioavailable than others. Magnesium glycinate is what you want to look for. Magnesium’s not at all expensive, which makes supplementing with this mineral a no-brainer for those of us who want to sleep just a little bit better tonight than we did last night.
Combat morning grogginess
Do you wake up in the morning feeling terribly groggy? Some mornings are worse than others, for sure. But, none of us need to experience morning grogginess on a regular basis. If feeling groggy in the morning is a regular thing for you, take a look at the following three ways to combat that groggy feeling.
Meditate as soon as you wake up
For me, the answer to brain fog that so often accompanies grogginess, is meditation. I meditate every morning, no matter what. But, on those mornings when I’m feeling especially groggy, meditation is my saving grace. There are so many styles of meditation out there, it’s hard to know what’s best for clearing out the morning cobwebs.
I’ve found what works best for me is what’s known as mantra meditation. This is where you choose a seed mantra like OM, for example, and simply repeat it over and over again in your mind’s eye for say, 10-15 minutes. If that seems like too much, just start small. Five minutes is enough when you’re beginning a meditation practice. The whole process is super easy. All you need to do is commit to it. You may want to practice with a guided video at first. Then, once you’ve got the hang of it, you can do it on your own, without using any sort of technological device. That’s what I find is the most natural and satisfying, for the long run.
Drink water first thing in the morning
I also drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning. Drinking 16 ounces of water at the start of the day helps with morning grogginess because we lose water during sleeping hours.
Simply put, dehydration makes us feel groggy, and alleviating these morning blahs can be as simple as downing a bunch of water. I try to get the water in before coffee, and look at coffee as the treat to drinking the water. Coffee is naturally dehydrating in nature. We need both the hydration of water, as well as the kick of caffeine to have a truly well-rounded morning. (Of course, coffee isn’t for everyone, and your favorite tea is just as good.)
You need to get outside and get sunlight, even in the winter
We all need vitamin D from sunlight to regulate our sleep cycles. But, to reduce the ill-effects of morning grogginess, getting straight to the sunlight when you wake can help you get rid of the grog. This is because of the hormone melatonin. During the cycle of sleep moving to waking up, the body secretes melatonin, and if it has too much, your body might think it’s still time to sleep. One way to get melatonin balanced is to go to your window when you wake up to get some natural light. I’ll often have water waiting on my bedside table. As soon as I wake up, I put my robe on, grab my water, and gaze out the window while drinking. Then, I go make coffee.
I’ll then take my cup of hot coffee to my bed, where I light a candle, sit with my back supported, and begin a morning meditation. I love this morning ritual. And it seems to work for me quite well. Rituals in the morning and night serve as bookends to your sleeping hours. When your body and mind get used to these rituals, they’re going to know better when it’s time to sleep, and when it’s time to go to bed.
Get plenty of sun during the day
During the day, it’s important to expose yourself to as much sunlight as you possibly can. I remember the year I lived in Hawaii. I’d never slept so well in my life. It’s because I was spending most of my days outside under the Hawaiian sun. I was breathing fresh air, and going to bed not long after sunset. I even slept straight through the night most nights, which I hardly ever do these days. However, I do try to be outside as much as possible when the weather permits, especially when the sun’s out.
And if you need light during the day, you need darkness at night. If you’re like me, and your bedroom overlooks city lights, you may need to invest in black out curtains. And if not black out curtains, a sleep mask will do just fine. That’s what I use. And it works!
Find out your sleep chronotype
According to many sleep experts, there are four primary sleep chronotypes, and your sleeping patterns fall into one of these. The four sleep chronotypes are referred to as the bear, wolf, lion, and dolphin. Each animal corresponds to a different sleeping pattern. The majority of people fall into the bear category, while the least common chronotype is the dolphin. Once you figure out which category you fall into, you can better understand what you need to sleep as sound as you possibly can, and relieve as much morning grogginess as possible.
If you’re going to snack at night, make sure you eat sleep-inducing foods
Sleep-inducing foods? Yes, they are a thing! Certain foods keep you up at night. If you eat a bar of dark chocolate with all its caffeine, chances are, you’re going to have trouble getting to bed. If you drink a sugary soda before bedtime, you’re going to set your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride, which may easily disrupt your sleep because when blood sugar crashes in the middle of the night, you tend to wake up. And when you wake up, you might even feel shaky and stressed out.
On the other hand, foods like almond butter and coconut oil can help you sleep. These healthy fats are soothing to the system. If you’re hungry before bedtime because you didn’t eat enough at dinner, simply have a tablespoonful of almond butter. And if you have coconut oil in the pantry, dab a dollop of that on the spoon as well.
Which reminds me. If you have sleep issues, another trick is to finish your last meal of the day 3-4 hours before bedtime. This is a lot like the vino, which should be finished 3 hours before bedtime. Eating your evening meal a bit earlier in the day allows your body to digest what you’ve just eaten. If you eat late at night, your body stays up to do its digestion work, as opposed to relaxing and drifting off to sleep.
Make sleep a pleasure
For those of us with serious sleep issues, we might dread going to bed at night. So, why not make sleep a juicy experience? You can do this by spending some money on cozy pillows, comfy sheets, a good bed, a mattress topper, etc. Find materials and colors that comfort you and soothe your soul. Place a beautiful aromatherapy diffuser on your bedside table and have fun with various essential oils and their aromatic scents. There are so many ways to make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Have fun with it, and invest yourself. There’s nothing in the world like a good night’s sleep. You deserve it.