We may be stating the obvious here, but sleep is incredibly important to health. Sleep restores the body’s immune function, repairs damaged tissues, regulates hormones and blood-sugar levels, detoxifies organs and organ systems, increases energy and enhances memory consolidation. Unfortunately, many of us do not get the proper amount of sleep each night. Stop spending your nights tossing and turning, and instead, incorporate these six tips to help you get a better night’s sleep.
In order to clock better zzz’s at night, make it a point to prioritize outdoor time during the day. When you first wake up, make sure you see sunlight. Go for a morning walk or sleep with your curtains open a crack so you can rise with the sun. If you aren’t a morning person, try taking an afternoon walk during your lunch break. Exposure to wide-spectrum light during the day can boost serotonin levels, which can help increase the sleep hormone melatonin at night.
Exercise, especially exercise outdoors, can help improve sleep. For some people, working out too close to bedtime can create cause for a restless night’s sleep. When we work out, we raise our cortisol levels, which causes us to get fired up for the rest of our workout, which is a good thing, but if you work out too close to bed, a cortisol spike can leave you feeling wired when you should really be feeling tired. This isn’t necessarily true for everyone, but if you find yourself wide awake when you should be winding down from the day, try adjusting your workouts to an early time during the day.
Simple carbohydrates like refined grains, sugary snacks and white bread can reduce serotonin levels, ultimately impairing sleep. Instead, stick to slow digesting, complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes. You can also try adding in healthy fats like an avocado, wild caught salmon or your favorite nut butter. Other foods that promote a healthy night’s sleep include the following:
Consider taking a hot shower or warm bubble bath before bed, preferably an Epsom salt bath if at all possible. Epsom salts contain magnesium, which can aid in sleep. Not to mention, stress can seriously deplete magnesium levels, so if you are feeling particularly stressed, take a soak in an epsom salt bath. While you’re at it, create a relaxing spa night to help you unwind from the day. Wash the day away with a green tea and aloe vera body wash or a lemon verbena body scrub. If you really want to pamper yourself, try a complete at-home spa night for ultimate relaxation.
Essential oils are a great way to tap into our central nervous system via the sense of smell. Depending which scent you choose, essential oils can help you relax and drift off to dreamland. Try a scent like lavender or cedarwood, both of which have been known to aid in relaxation. Try rubbing 2-3 splashes on your wrists or temples. Breathe deep and enjoy the scent as you settle into bed for the night. You can even invest in an essential oil diffuser to use in your bedroom so your favorite scent envelops your entire room before you slip off to sleep.
Our bodies thrive off of routines, so create a bedtime routine for yourself, which will signal to yourself it’s time to start winding down for the day. For instance, turn off all of the harsh indoor lighting and light candles or turn on soft twinkle lights instead. Ditch the blue-light emitting devices (this includes your phone, computer and TV) and pick up a book instead. Take a hot shower or warm epsom salt bath then do some light yoga or gentle stretching. These small, but subtle cues will let your body know it’s time to call it a day and get it ready to hit the hay.
Try incorporating one, or all, of these tips and see if they help you get a better night’s sleep. Sweet dreams!