Have you been struggling lately to get the ZZZs? Getting a good night's sleep is an investment in yourself. In this blog post, I'll give you five easy tips to improve your sleep tonight.
Quality sleep is one of the most important factors in your overall health: it affects the immune system, muscle recovery, mood, cognitive function, digestion and hormones. It can also make it really difficult to prioritize, especially in our culture that encourages us to multitask, push harder and hustle.
1. Put your phone away
Yes, I know that this one always pops up on sleep lists, but there’s a reason for that!
Staring at the blue light of a screen can disrupt the natural melatonin cascade that happens as our bodies prepare for sleep. Scrolling endlessly through Instagram feeds can also get your mind racing and stir up emotions.
Sleep experts recommend reading a good old-fashioned book before bed. I know when I read before bed, it’s hard not to feel my eyelids getting heavier after about fifteen minutes or so.
2. Write it down
If one of the things keeping you awake is your to-do list for tomorrow, take out a pen and paper and write it all down. Just get it down on paper.
Don’t worry about organizing it. Our minds work really hard trying to hold a lot of information. By listing all of your worries you’ve delegated it to “later.”
If, as you’re falling asleep, you start to run through your list again, stop and remind yourself that it’s all written down and that you’ll deal with it tomorrow. Now is the time for rest.
3. Sip some chamomile tea
Most people with sleep issues have had chamomile tea recommended to them at some point. Research regarding its effectiveness varies.
Chamomile in a concentrated form has been shown to help with sleep. A study conducted in a nursing home in Iran found that sleep quality significantly improved when residents were given 400 mg of chamomile daily. The strength of the herb in a tea form is less conclusive.
Another study was done comparing drinking chamomile tea before bed with drinking a cup of plain hot water and found that both caused improvement in sleep quality. While this might mean that the chamomile itself might not put you to sleep, there is value in the ritual of having a warm drink before settling into bed.
The act of taking a few minutes to boil some water and prepare a drink, especially if done regularly, can be a powerful trigger to your brain and body that it is time to settle down.
4. Take your feet up the wall
Legs-up-the-wall pose (viparita karani) is the most widely prescribed yoga pose for sleep because it quiets the mind.
This powerful pose provides all the benefits of an inversion without the effort. Taking feet and legs above the heart can increase drainage and relieve swelling of the feet and ankle—very helpful if you are pregnant!
The pose can also regulate blood pressure and improving digestion. Take a look online for the multitude of variations on this pose.
Whatever variation you choose to take, make sure you are comfortable. The pose doesn’t need to be formal. You can even do this pose up against your couch or from your bed.
5. Block out the light
Light is one of the biggest external factors that affects sleep.
Light regulates our sleep and wake cycles. It is natural for humans to be awake during the day and asleep at night: we’re programmed that way.
Sleep issues are so prevalent with shift workers because their sleep and wake cycles are not in line with humans’ natural patterns.
Sleep experts recommend that your room be dark enough that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. If you need to sleep during the day and can’t get your room dark enough, consider wearing an eye mask or purchasing blackout curtains.
Also get rid of electronics in your room that emit light, such as your digital alarm clock. If you insist on sleeping with your phone close to your bed, try turning it on “do not disturb” mode to keep it from lighting up or buzzing.
Now it's your turn
Sleep is something that most people struggle with at some point in their lives. It’s normal to have periods of sleep difficulty. If you try to clean up your sleep hygiene but still aren’t seeing results, consider checking in with your family doctor to make sure that there aren’t other issues going on.
We often underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep, but I can guarantee that any investments that you make in creating a strong sleep routine will pay dividends.
I'd love to hear about your sleep stories and any tips you may have on getting a good night's sleep in the comments below.
Good luck, friends, and good night!
Hi, I'm Gillian.
I’m obsessed with helping women live their best lives. Together we'll use yoga and mindfulness to build confidence, reach goals and have some fun!