Sleep is one of the most important functions that we do in our lives. Sleep helps to repair your body, helps promote healing from any illnesses you may have and can repair and improve your heart and blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been linked to so many health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc… However, a lot of us don’t get the right amount of sleep per night and some of us suffer from insomnia and can’t sleep at a reasonable hour. Through the years I’ve figured out some sleep hacks in order to get better sleep and I want to share those with you.
Have a routine
A bedtime routine is very important to help your body wind down before bed. It will help your body to know that it’s approaching bedtime and will help you to relax. Have some herbal tea, take a warm shower, write in your journal, read a book, do anything that might help you to relax. Remember, it takes 30 days to form a habit and that means 30 days of a consecutive bedtime routine. After 30 days it will become second nature to you and your body will get used to the routine.
Limit electronics before bed
We frequently use our phones or watch TV while we’re in bed and we don’t even realize that this is potentially causing us to be restless or experience insomnia. The blue light from electronic devices makes your body think that it’s daytime and won’t help your brain to wind down. This blue light can affect the melatonin production by giving your brain the wrong signals and making your brain think that it isn’t time for sleep.
If you must use your phone before bed see if your phone has a night mode setting. This setting will set your screen brightness to have less or none of that sleep-interrupting blue light.
Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime
The general rule of thumb is that you should eat your last snack no later than 3 hours before your bedtime. This is because of the digestion issues that eating this late can cause you. It takes around 3 hours for our food to properly digest and sitting upright helps your food to properly digest. If you lay down too soon after eating it could cause acid reflux or stomach cramps which could hinder your falling asleep. They actually say that you should eat your last big meal in the afternoon for lunch and keep your dinner lighter to help with digestion at night. Honestly, I’ve had larger dinners and don’t have a problem as long as I eat earlier and don’t eat anything 3 hours before I go to bed.
Keep your room cool
Have you ever tossed and turned because you ended up getting too warm while you’re in bed? Yeah, me too. Most of us love to snuggle up with our blankets when we’re going to sleep and frequently have issues with getting too warm in the middle of the night. These temperature fluctuations in the bedroom can obviously affect sleep and comfort so try to keep your bedroom cool at night. The best temperature to set your thermostat at for night time is between 65 and 69 degrees but this will vary depending on your comfort level. Thankfully I have a Nest Thermostat so I’m able to change the temperature of my home right from my phone. (I actually highly suggest this thermostat because it’s SO handy!)
Brain dump before bed
We constantly think of everything that we need to do or anything that’s been in our head at night when we lay down to relax. This happens to everyone and it’s extremely annoying. These thoughts can hinder our sleep, cause us to get up in the middle of the night to do something we may have forgotten to do, etc… The best way to combat these thoughts is to keep a notebook or journal by your bed. Brain dumping is something I began doing 2 years ago and it’s helped a great deal with my sleep. Writing everything down that’s in your head before bed will help you to relax at night. Don’t worry about processing any of this, you can do that the next day when you wake up and are ready to take care of your to-do list.
Be consistent with your schedule
Having a consistent sleep and wake up schedule is important because your body will get accustomed to the consistency. I try to go to bed between 11 pm and 12 am and wake up around 6:30 am every morning. This is what works for me so you will have to figure out a sleep and wake up schedule that works the best for you. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep in order to function so you definitely need to figure that out for yourself. 6-8 hours a night is the recommended amount.
Use a sleep app
Sleep apps track your sleep patterns at night so you can analyze and troubleshoot what may be causing your sleep problems. You can either use your Fitbit to track your sleep, your Apple Watch or even your phone. (Which uses either the accelerometer or sound to track your sleep.) These sleep apps will also analyze your sleep cycles so that it can wake you up when you’re at the lightest point of sleep. This will help to wake up energized and not groggy and tired. I’ve been using Sleep Cycle for years and I absolutely love that app. It’s helped a great deal with letting me see what daily factors can affect my sleep and also wakes me up energized.
Utilize natural supplements
There are a few natural supplements that can help with sleeping as well. I’ve used melatonin in the past and it definitely does work for promoting sleep naturally. However, there are a few others as well:
Valerian Root: Other than promoting sleep, this herb also helps the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and menopause The recommended dosage to use for sleep is between 300-900mg taken right before bedtime.
Magnesium: Magnesium is also important for brain function and heart health but it also promotes sleep. It regulates the production of melatonin, which helps your body’s sleep/wake cycle. The recommended dosage for sleep is 500mg. Magnesium can also help to calm restless leg syndrome in the same dosage.
Aromatherapy it up
Aromatherapy is amazing for promoting sleep and has been used to calm the body and mind for so, so many years. The most popular way to use aromatherapy for sleep is to use essential oil with an essential oil diffuser. (I’ll link the one that I use below)
The most important thing to consider when choosing essential oils is to make sure it’s a true plant-based essential oil. Sure the synthetic oils may smell nice but the chemistry of the plant and its proteins is what is the active ingredient to really calm you.
There are so many essential oils that you can use but they also have many different blends for bedtime, relaxation, de-stress, etc…
Other ways to use aromatherapy is to have an aromatherapy bath before bed or use an aromatherapy pillow mist. Honestly, I use a mixture of these things to help with my relaxation and sleep and it really does work. I even have diffusers in my kids’ rooms and it helps them a great deal as well.