Getting enough sleep is highly underrated in this country. People are actually praised for needing less sleep. It’s sad, really.
Because while it might feel cool to only need 3 hours of sleep a night, you’re actually building up a sleep debt behind the scenes that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. And that debt can eventually harm your health.
It may not seem like it, but sleep is extremely important. Without quality sleep, you’re not able to function at your best and you definitely won’t be at your creative best, either.
Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Everyone is different thou. Some people need more and others need less, but getting fewer than 7 hours can be detrimental to your long-term health.
Sleep Secrets Revealed
Now you may be someone who has a hard time sleeping. Maybe you can’t fall asleep right away or maybe you have trouble staying asleep.
Whatever your sleep troubles may be, here are 7 secrets that will help you improve the quality of sleep that you do get:
1. Get Into A Routine
While routines can tend to be boring and stale sometimes, other times they’re one of the most helpful things. Without a routine, I know I would totally forget most of the things I have to do every morning before I go to my side job. But a routine helps me make sure everything gets done before I walk out the door.
It can work the same way with sleep. If you consistently do the same routine before you go to bed every night, you will be training your body to start winding down as soon as you do the first task because it knows sleep is coming soon.
For example, a routine could be brushing your teeth, washing your face and reading for 15 minutes.
2. Stop Eating At Least 2 to 3 Hours Before Bed
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy having a late-night snack now and then. That’s perfectly OK, but what you don’t want to do is have a meal right before you drift off to dreamland.
When you eat and then go to bed soon after, your mind may be resting, but your body is wide awake digesting the food in your stomach. If your body isn’t resting, you’re not getting quality sleep and you will wake up tired.
Both your body and mind need to slumber.
3. Don’t Exercise Too Close to Bed Time
I’m sure you’ve heard that one before, and it’s as true now as it was when you originally heard it.
While exercise is fantastic and definitely a necessity, exercising too close to bed time can cause you to not be able to fall asleep. Exercise gives you energy, which makes it hard to wind down when the time comes.
That’s why it’s best to exercise early in the day or as early as you possibly can.
If you’re going to exercise at night, try to stick to a more calming form of exercise, like yoga.
4. Don’t Drink Caffeine At Night
Caffeine in general isn’t a good idea because it can exhaust your adrenal glands (among other things), but drinking caffeine at night can be a major contributor to not being able to sleep.
Caffeine is an “upper,” which means it will keep you up. That’s a problem when you’re trying to fall asleep.
To avoid caffeine, do not eat or drink the following before bed: coffee, soda, energy drinks, tea or chocolate.
5. Develop A Relaxation Technique
When you’re trying to fall asleep, your body needs to be calm. If you are stressed out or worked up about something, you won’t be able to sleep. Or if you do sleep, you won’t sleep soundly.
But if you develop some kind of relaxation technique that you can use to calm yourself down before you go to bed, you’ll sleep a whole lot better.
One technique I like to use is similar to a meditation, but it’s more focused on breathing than anything else. I call it the “Stomach Meditation.”
Here’s how to do it:
- Lay flat on your back in bed
- Place your hand (one or both) on your stomach
- Take a deep breath in, expanding your stomach until you’re lungs are full
- Hold your breath for a few seconds
- Slowly breathe out, feeling your stomach flatten, like you’re deflating a balloon
- Repeat, keeping your focus on filling your lungs to capacity with air and slowly releasing it
This is a simple, but effective way to calm your body down and ready yourself to sleep.
6. Clear Your Mind
If you’re trying to fall asleep, a clear mind is key.
Your mind might not be totally clear, but it needs to be clear enough that you’re not worrying or thinking about anything that might distract you and keep your mind awake.
One way to ensure you are able to clear your mind enough to fall asleep is to keep a notebook by your bed.
Right when you get into bed, grab your notebook and write down anything you need to do tomorrow, anything you’re worrying about, anything that you’re thinking about, whatever you need to write down in order to have a clear mind.
When you’re attempting to fall asleep, if something pops up in your head, rather than continuing to think about it, just quickly write it down. This may seem annoying at first, but you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll be able to fall asleep once you get used to clearing your mind.
If that doesn’t work, prayer is always helpful. Sometimes just having someone to talk to is enough to let go of what’s on your mind.
7. Use Creativity to Your Advantage
If you’re a troubled sleeper or have a really hard time falling asleep, you can use your creativity to combat it. You do this by imagining inside your head as you’re falling asleep.
Make up a story and then play it out in your mind. Imagine the story is a movie and keep it rolling. See how far you get before you fall asleep.
If you don’t want to make up a story, you can always imagine a scene from your favorite movie or book. Try to imagine it exactly as it happens in the movie/book and recreate it in your mind.
Having something to focus on can make it easier to drift off to dreamland.
Share With Us
What are your secrets for getting a good night’s sleep? Any sleep hacks you use to make it easier to fall asleep or stay asleep?
Image courtesy of Joi
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