Sleep is a biological process that is crucial for optimal health and daily functioning. When I don’t get enough hours of sleep, the consequences are worse than feeling tired the next day.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m lacking sleep it impacts every area of my life negatively— whether it be my mood, performance, attention to detail, memory, reasoning, immune system, digestion, stress levels, etc. I can’t get away with a bad nights sleep anymore like I thought I could as a teenager and into my early twenties, and because of this, I’ve developed a few simple regimes that help encourage rest so I can set myself up for a good nights sleep. Today I’ll be sharing 3 of my go-to sleep promoting rituals that are easy to integrate daily, not overwhelming, and have personally helped me immensely when it comes to getting better sleep. If you’re in need of some sleep inspiration, then keep reading!
A good nights sleep can be defined by sufficient duration, good quality, appropriate timing and regularity, and the absence of sleep disturbances and disorders (source). That said, there are numerous factors that can affect our sleep negatively, such as stress, health status, work schedules, student life, environment, and lifestyle choices to name a few. Proper sleep, in quality and quantity, plays a critical role in brain function and other physiological processes including metabolism, appetite regulation, and the functioning of the immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems (source). These are major processes and systems in the body that play many key roles in proper functioning, it’s no wonder lack of sleep leads us to feel less optimal and downright awful. According to sleep research, 40% of Canadians will experience some degree of a sleep disorder during their lifetime. Furthermore, up to 70 million people in the US and ~45 million people in Europe suffer with chronic sleep disorders that impact daily functioning and health (source).
From my own experience, I’ve learnt that motivating rest is so key for setting myself up for a proper sleep. If you think about it, it’s no different than how we motivate other areas of life— such as eating nutritious foods to give us energy and the building blocks for life, drinking water to keep well hydrated, washing our face to promote healthy skin, etc.
Here are 3 lifestyle changes I like to motivate when it comes to catching more Zzz’s:
1. BE CONSISTENT: Wake up and go to sleep at consistent times. Irregular sleep and wake schedules can have an impact on catching those quality Zzz’s in proper quantities. One study found an increase in bedtime schedule irregularity to be significantly associated with a decrease in average sleep time per day (source). I’m pretty consistent when it comes to my sleep [except during exam week!] and am usually in bed around 9:30pm, typically sound asleep between 10:15pm-10:30pm, and awake between 5:30am-6:30am. Anywhere between 7 to 8 hours of sleep is my sweet spot for feeling my best and functioning optimally. That said, I am human and still do experience a night here and there of poor sleep, but being consistent with a sleep schedule has definitely made this happen much less! Consistency with your sleep and wake schedule can help naturally train your body to know its time to wind down and wake up. Start making your sleep schedule a priority by implementing a few wind down rituals into your evening that will help your body feel more rested and ready for sleep. This simple shift helped me immensely when I started taking my sleep more seriously. I like to do things like diffuse calming aromas that help promote relaxation in the evening around 7:00pm [that’s my typical wind down time], and I’ll wash my face about an hour before I’m jumping into bed. I find washing my face right before bed sometimes wakes me up, so I get it done ahead of time now. If you guys would like me to do a detailed post that focuses on my wind down rituals just let me know and I would be happy to share!
2. RETHINK THAT AFTERNOON CAFFEINE: If you find yourself going through a phase of tossing and turning in the evenings, try laying off the afternoon caffeine [whether it be tea or coffee] and see if you notice any difference. Our bodies are complex and unique, how one person handles caffeine will differ from the next person. The research seems mixed on whether or not cutting caffeine in the afternoon is effective for better sleep, however, it seems intuitive to think that cutting caffeine could help. During the times my sleep is lacking I personally will lay off the afternoon coffee to help encourage a more sound sleep, and it typically does help. One study did find that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime reduced total sleep time by 1 hour (source). I personally think it’s worth a try if you are trying to feel more rested and you are serious about getting proper sleep.
3. REDUCE BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE: Devices that emit blue-wavelength light before bed may affect quality and quantity of sleep by supressing melatonin and causing neurophysiological arousal (source). Try limiting your exposure to blue light at least an hour before bed and see if you notice a change in quality/quantity of sleep. I get that it can be hard to limit devices in the evening, so another great idea is to set up an orange/warm light filter on your devices— it makes the screen warmer and cuts the stimulating blue light. I have an orange light filter set on my devices that is activated from 7:00pm to 6:30am. There are apps for filtering out blue light, but some phones come with this handy wellness tool already in the settings of the phone. You just have to turn the setting on and set the timing! On my iPhone the setting is called Night Shift and it’s under the Settings in Display & Brightness. Give it a try if you haven’t already! The warmer filter helps me feel less stimulated in the evening, which ultimately helps me wind down more effectively. I have noticed when my orange light filter comes on it naturally cues my body to start taking it easy. I think it’s because the filter has been such a consistent part of my evening routine, my body just knows what it means at this point.
Thank you for reading today’s post, I hope you enjoyed! How do you set yourself up for sleep? I would love to hear! Leave me a comment below if you would like to share.
Photo credit: Brittni Rose Image