The importance of getting enough sleep cannot be overstated. The quality of your sleep affects your immune system, hormones, energy levels, and brain function. As sleep is when the body rebuilds and repairs itself, sleep deprivation can harm one’s overall health in a variety of ways.
The best way to improve the quality of your sleep lies in creating a nighttime routine, proper sleep hygiene, and aligning your circadian rhythm. While a long night’s sleep may seem like a luxury to some, it is a necessity. Everyone should strive for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Below, I dive into some of the best tips for creating a deep night's rest.
Natural Light Exposure
Upon waking, expose yourself to bright and natural light, or artificial if you wake up before the sun. Light exposure stimulates the pineal gland which releases serotonin, the “happy hormone”, helping to increase your mood and energy upon waking.
Reducing your exposure to artificial light (think: electronics) at night time can help trigger the release of melatonin and prepare your body for a good night's rest. I recommend wearing blue light blocking glasses a couple of hours before bed and using black out blinds in the bedroom. These practices can help improve your circadian rhythm.
Studies show that the quality of one's sleep is strongly linked to thermoregulation. One's core body temperature repeatedly decreases during the nocturnal sleep phase and increases during the wake phase. Thus, a cooler room temperature may help to enhance one's sleep.
Play with Sounds
Create a quiet space by using ear plugs or try using a noise machine, white noise, pink noise, or a noise app.
Supplements such as magnesium bisglycinate, GABA, or L-Theanine have been found to enhance sleep. Botanical remedies such as valerian or passionflower (in either capsule, tincture, or herbal teas) may also be helpful. Prior to experimenting with any of these, talk to a healthcare practitioner.
Avoid Late Night Snacking
If your digestive system is having to break down foods late at night, it isn’t able to fully rest. Try to avoid late night snacking to help ease your body into a state of relaxation.
Stimulants impact the nervous system leading to an increase in alertness and a greater difficulty in falling asleep. Avoid stimulants past mid afternoon.
Breathework is a powerful yet gentle tool shown to calm the nervous system, reduce stress, stimulate the vagus nerve, and enhance sleep. You can try to incorporate one of the practices below.
Breathe in for four counts, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, repeat.
Deep belly breaths with your palms placed on your belly. Inhale and expand your belly into your hands, exhale and contract your belly away from your hands.
Stress can cause sleep deprivation. Frequently being in a heightened state of alertness may delay the onset of sleep and cause anxious thoughts to occur at nighttime. A poor night's rest can also exacerbate stress.
Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Your routine will be unique to you. Dim the lights, light some candles, or put a diffuser on. Enjoy your favorite relaxing activities to alleviate stress such as reading, journaling, practicing gratitude, soft music, knitting, gentle yoga, a warm bath with lavender essential oil, dead sea salts, or Epsom salts. Try to eliminate any consumption of stressful or negative news from the news or social media platforms. Lastly, reserve your bed solely for sleep, relaxation, and intimacy. This way, your bed signifies a state of relaxation.
Enjoy the benefits of a deep sleep by practicing some of these tips to wake with an abundance of energy, an uplifted mood, clarity, and a refreshed outlook!