A couple weeks ago I discussed the importance of sleep, claiming it to be just as important as being active and eating well when it comes to your health.
So, what can you do to improve your sleep? Today I am sharing my top 5 tips to improve your sleep routine and hopefully improve your sleep too!
1. Reduced screen time before bed (circadian rhythm)
Our circadian rhythm is our internal clock that keeps the brain and body in sync with the sun. Our clock can be set backward or forward by light and we appear to be especially sensitive to blue light (this is the light that comes from mid-day sun or the light emitted from our computer, phone, TV screens). See National Geographic Image below.
Suggestion: limit screen time at least 30-60 minutes before going to bed. I have often heard 1-2 hours, but that isn't always feasible for everyone. So my alternative is stepping away from it at least 30 minutes before you plan on getting into bed. If you can do more, that's a bonus!
I have started the practice of turning my phone to airplane mode and heading upstairs. I try not to touch it once I enter my room.
2. Find time to unwind - will look different for everyone
One of the biggest challenges about falling asleep is stress or overthinking. If you are heading to bed right from your laptop, right from doing work, changes are you are going to have a difficult time getting to bed. Find some time (again at least 30 minutes to do something for you).
What others said worked for them?
Setting an alarm to remind me to go to bed
Enjoying a warm tea
Reading a few pages in a book
Taking a bath or warm shower
Repeating mantras like "I am relaxed, I am ready for sleep."
Listening to podcasts
For me: my unwinding often looks like a bedtime face routine (wash, cream) and reading a few pages of a book. If I am feeling particularly unsettled I practice some deep breathing in bed with my favourite essential oils. I might tab a little on my hands, neck or even my pillow. Some evenings I even do a little meditation using the Stop, Breth & Think app. Click here to check it out.
Unwinding will look different for everyone, but find what works for you and make time for it.
3. Change your physical activity routine
Physical activity can help you sleep better. Perhaps you need to change your routine, maybe you need to workout in the mornings versus the evenings, maybe you need to work out a certain time before going to bed to get the best benefit or maybe you just need to move more throughout the week.
Making time to be physically active will help encourage better sleep.
4. Change your eating habits
Having a healthy well balanced diet will also help you sleep better. Sleep, physical activity, and healthy eating are all interconnected. What needs changing in your diet? Do you need to drink more water? Eat more fibre, fruits, veggies? Less sugar? Start small, maybe you had fibre to your breakfast or remove a sugary snack and notice the influence these changes have on your sleep.
Avoid stimulants before bed (i.e., caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol)
Try to reduce any heavy eating before bed and wait 1-2 hours after eating to lay down and go to bed.
5. Sleep environment (dark room, cooler temperatures).
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Your happy place that allows you to unwind and promotes healthy sleep routines. If there is something in your room that causes you stress or leaves you feeling overwhelmed, perhaps make a change to that space. Maybe you need to declutter, remove laundry baskets, or simply add some things you love (maybe that includes essential oil scents, a nice candle, a warm blanket, etc.). Lavender is a scent that has been shown to reduce blood pressure and encourage a more relaxed state, it is a scent I personally use.
One of my personal rules is no laptop (aka work) in my room. I have now even eliminated phone use from my room (before bed).
In addition, research has also found that people sleep better in cool temperatures (about 17-18 degrees Celsius) and darker rooms. So pull down those blinds and lower your heat for a deeper sleep.
If you have made changes and sleep still is a challenge, check in with your local health care professional. If you have questions about supplements and diet to improve sleep, please connect with me. I would be happy to share some additional suggestions with you.
Cheers to happy and healthy eating (and sleeping)!
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Angela XO