As a society, we are not sleeping enough and we are struggling to get quality sleep. As our lives get filled with more and more responsibilities our sleep is one of the first things we sacrifice. However, sleep is one of the most important things we need to maintain optimal health.
According to the American Sleep Association, between 50 to 70 million adults in the US have sleep disorders. Many people turn to pharmaceutical intervention – but if you are not into taking medication there are a number of natural ways to get more and better quality sleep.
For a really long time, I struggled to get quality sleep. I would lay in bed for hours before finally falling asleep. It was so frustrating, I would wake up and still be tired, and I noticed my mental clarity was declining along with my energy levels. I knew I had to make some changes.
Here are the things I did that have made a huge difference in my sleep quality and my ability to fall asleep faster.
Make Small Gradual Adjustments
If you are used to going to bed at one or two a.m. it is not reasonable to think you can force yourself to go to sleep at ten or eleven p.m. Trust me I tried and it didn’t work.
Instead, start small. Go to bed fifteen minutes earlier than you usually do for a week or so until your body gets used to that new time. Then move your bedtime up another fifteen minutes. Continue this until you reach your ideal time to go to bed.
Being consistent is so important when you are trying to optimize your sleep schedule. Our bodies operate on rhythms and cycles. When we are inconsistent our bodies get confused and don’t operate optimally.
It is especially important to be consistent when you are working to create your sleep schedule. When you are consistent your body will adjust to the changes in the time you are going to sleep much more quickly.
Use Your Bed for Sleep and Sex Only
This is important because you want your bed to be a place of calm, rest, and relaxation. When you do other things like work in bed, you bring that energy into your bed, and work energy is the opposite of sleep energy. If you have a habit of working, studying, watching TV, etc. in bed, it is in your best interest to break that habit as quickly as possible.
I used to work in my bed all the time – it was actually my favorite place to work because it was so cozy. Once I stopped working from the bed I noticed I was falling asleep much faster, because I wasn’t bringing the energy of work into my sleep space anymore.
Create a Nightly Routine
Having a night routine is a game changer for getting better quality sleep. Once I created and stuck to my night routine I noticed a big change in my sleep. I was waking up much more rested and had sustained energy throughout the day.
Committing to your nightly routine is important because it helps you wind down from your day, it helps you get ready to go to sleep, and it sets your next day up for success.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is the most widely used substance in the world, so chances are pretty good that your caffeine consumption could be affecting your sleep. You want to take note of how much caffeine you are having and how late you have it as you are working to optimize and prioritize quality sleep.
You also want to make sure that you are not consuming caffeine after a certain time of day. This includes coffee, non-herbal teas, chocolate, headache and PMS medications, soda, and any desserts with chocolate or coffee.
Disconnect From Electronic Devices
All of your devices emit blue light, which signals your brain to stay awake. Blue light is a huge contributor to many peoples’ sleep issues. Even our light bulbs emit blue light.
In order to reduce the blue light, you are exposed to make sure to stop using all devices at least an hour before going to sleep. You can also install f. tux on your devices, it is a program that adjusts the display color temperature according to your location and time of day. It is amazing, I love it so much.
If you want to take it a step further you can even invest in color-changing light bulbs. I will change the color of my room to red at least two hours before I go to bed, which further limits my exposure to blue light.
Turn Off Your WIFI
I’m pretty sure you don’t need your wifi while you are sleeping so why not turn it off?
According to studies by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, exposure to wifi while sleeping can have a large impact on sleep length and quality. Not only that but it also delays our ability to reach deep sleep and limits certain parts of our sleep cycles.
It’s pretty simple to just turn your wifi off. I simply connected my wifi router to my wall switch so all I have to do is flip the switch before I go to bed.
For a long time, I operated on the idea of just seeing where the day took me. While this is just fine for days off, I found it was not so great for the days I had work to do. I would find myself looking at the clock at 5pm and wondering where my day had gone. Maybe you can relate?
When I started planning my days and prioritizing my to-do lists I was shocked at how much more I actually could get done in a day. it was amazing!