5 Tips to Improve Sleep


5 Tips to Improve Sleep

Daylight Saving time ends on November 7th. The good news is you get one extra hour of time in bed that night! The bad news is the time will change again next spring. Today I am going to share five tips with you to help navigate the time change and build better habits around your nighttime routine.

Tip #1: Make a nighttime routine

Nighttime routines do more than keep you organized. They also prepare you for sleeping throughout the night. Your body is an incredible system. It wants to be on a schedule. Your body will release hormones signaling it is time to go to bed, but they often get ignored because of schedules, work, and other activities. Did you know that humans are the only mammals which intentionally sacrifice sleep to stay awake longer? Take a warm shower, listen to your favorite music, journal, read, spend time with your family, or take a short walk before bed. Any activity that helps you reduce stress at night will go a long way in helping you stay in bed for higher quality sleep. 

Tip #2: Limit caffeine and alcohol 

The rule of thumb is four hours before bed. Studies show caffeine and alcohol have a significant negative impact on sleep. Deep sleep is when the body releases physically restorative hormones, and these drugs harm your slow wave sleep cycle. You can still enjoy the coffee, tea, and wine when you want. You need to know that they do not help your sleep. If you have something you are training for, caffeine and alcohol before bed will hold you back from meeting your goals. 

Tip #3: Exercise

Exercise makes you tired. Working a stressful or physically demanding job makes you tired. If you can be tired before bed, that is a sign your body will have better sleep. If you are going to bed without being tired, consider doing exercise at some point during the day. Exercise has many other benefits besides sleep! One caveat here: a draining workout before bed will have the opposite effect. Exercise turns on the feel good hormones and activates the sympathetic nervous system. As you get ready for bed, you want the parasympathetic system to become activated. Finish a workout at least a full hour before bedtime and take a cold shower to cool the body. 

Tip #4: CDQ

The stands for cool, dark, and quiet. You sleep better in a cool environment. Think about the fan going and having the thermostat at 72 degrees or lower. Use black out curtains or a sleep mask to keep it dark. Have the room as quiet as possible during the night will help you sleep. Consider using ear plugs to drown out any excess noise. 

Tip #5: Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Screens harm your REM sleep. That is the mentally restorative part of sleep. If you can turn off the blue light on your phone, or avoid screens altogether… it will improve your sleep. Consider putting blue light blocking glasses on or putting the screens away during the last hour before bed. 

Overall, find a nighttime routine that you can consistently keep and stick with it! One of the best ways to find a routine is to practice different things for a week and see how you feel. Write down how many hours you were in bed and subtract one hour. That is the amount of actual sleep you got. 

Good luck with improving your sleep!

Blair Agan