As the New Year approaches, we often set resolutions in areas we’d like to improve or focus on. Considering the fact that sleep takes up a quarter of our day (and life), making sure to get good quality sleep is essential to achieving these resolutions and generally living a healthy and happy life.
Below is a list of recommendations accumulated from various sleep experts. We’re all designed differently so I find experimenting on myself is the best way to determine what works best for me. That said, it is important to give each experiment a couple days. You never know, sometimes during the course of the day we do something that negatively or positively impacts what we are trying.
Sleep tips are split between either setting or practices. It is good to try a bit of both. Let’s go!
Bedroom temperature. While most sleep experts recommend your bedroom being on the cooler side, if you’re shivering it will be impossible to sleep. Trying to set your bedroom to a comfortable temperature where you’re not too cold or hot will make it easier to sleep.
Keep your bedroom primarily for sleep. Have you ever noticed that when you walk into your bedroom you feel drowsy? It is because your brain associates your bed with sleep. Try to limit the activities you do in your bedroom to mainly sleep. Keeping that association tight will make it easier to fall asleep once you enter your bed.
Good bed. While this may seem obvious, investing in a good bed makes a huge difference on your sleep quality and how you feel physically when you wake up. Bestreviews.com, Sleepjunkie, Wirecutter, or asking friends on Facebook are helpful ways to figure out what bed to get.
Dark room. Darkness is an important signal to your brain that it is time to sleep. If there is light in your bedroom (maybe outside through a window even) it can make it harder for you to get truly restful sleep. Try blackout blinds or curtains.
Stop drinking caffeine too late. Based on research it seems to take between 7–12 hours for caffeine to be completely processed by your body. Most experts seem to recommend not drinking coffee after 2pm, depending on the time you sleep.
Sleep on a regular schedule. For busy, active people, sleeping on a regular schedule may be one of the hardest things to do on this list. Since the invention of the light bulb and electricity, sleeping at a regular schedule for many has become optional. Unfortunately, this conflicts with how we’re designed biologically. Prioritize your sleep!
Exercise. A regular exercise routine can help you sleep better by relieving stress and tiring us out. It is usually best to exercise in the morning or afternoon versus the evening to avoid the post workout adrenaline rush.
Read before bed. Reading before bed is a good, easy activity that has been shown to lower stress and help many fall asleep. That said, it’s recommended to read a physical book or via a kindle device that doesn’t contain a bright display (blue) light.
Do a sleep study. While a sleep study requires seeing your doctor and getting a prescription, it is the best way to truly understand how well you’re sleeping and what might help you sleep better. Be warned, insurance companies often times try to get doctors to discourage such testing, so you might need to push for it with your physician.
Meditate. For many, the biggest reason for poor sleep in the first place is a racing mind or anxiety. It is well documented how meditation can help bring calm to a racing mind. Developing a regular meditation practice can make this easier.
Wishing all of you a restful 2020 and beyond!