Sleep is an essential part of your daily routine, yet it is likely to be the first thing you sacrifice when other obligations are knocking at the door. Ask yourself how many times you stay up late in a vain attempt to accomplish just one more task from the day before climbing into bed feeling completely exhausted. By neglecting your sleep or trying to function on a very little amount of restful sleep each night, you are doing more harm than good to your body.
When you fail to pay attention to the quality amount of sleep you receive each night, your body begins to break down. You face a hormonal imbalance inside your body while chronic illness and aging quietly creeps up behind you. Your body tries to fight off the effects of low-quality sleep for as long as possible. However, before long the effects begin to have a significant impact on your quality of life.
Therefore, you need to start making sleep a top priority in your life once again. A restful night of sleep works to keep your mind sharp, which gives you a happier mental attitude and keeps you healthy. The process starts when you work on re-establishing a consistent sleep routine each night.
Why You Need a Sleep Routine
As you move throughout the day, each task you handle adds a little more exhaustion to your body. As night falls, you continue rushing around trying to take care of ‘just one more thing’ before retiring for the night. Approaching bedtime in this manner does not adequately allow your body time to slow down and find a moment of relaxation.
Think for a moment about what happens when you open your eyes in the morning. It takes a few moments to orient yourself to your surroundings and then find the energy to finally crawl out of bed and start the day. The same thing needs to happen at night, only by then you expect your body to go from sixty to zero in a matter of seconds. Your body doesn’t work like that.
Having a sleep routine in place sends an internal signal to your body that the end of the day is near. Your body registers that request and begins to slowly wind down a little bit at a time, so that when you finally crawl into bed, sleep is not far behind you. Here are a few tips that can help you establish a healthy nighttime routine that works to give you restful nights of sleep from this point on.
Maintain a Consistent Schedule
Consistency is an essential ingredient to creating a new pattern in your life. It can add value to your quality of life when you find a way to include it into your sleep schedule. Start by going to bed at the same time each night. You also want to try and wake up at the same time each morning. It will take some time to adjust to this new sleep schedule.
As your body becomes accustomed to your new schedule, it will begin to naturally slow down as your bedtime arrives. Waking up in the morning will become easier as your body naturally releases stimulating hormones that help you wake up naturally, without needing an alarm clock.
Limit Your Intake of Caffeine and Alcohol
Beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol acts as a natural stimulant that works to send surges of energy coursing through your body. It takes a considerable amount of time for your body to burn off that extra energy. There is a good chance that energy will not disappear before your bedtime arrives.
Therefore, you should limit your intake of these beverage types as much as possible in the hours leading up to your bedtime. Otherwise, you may find yourself wide awake and starting at the ceiling instead of getting a restful night of sleep.
Eat in Moderation
When you consume food, your digestive system goes into action as it works to break down the foods you eat. That process takes a significant amount of time to complete. For that reason, you want to avoid eating big meals within a few hours of your bedtime. Instead of having one high calorie meal at dinner try to have smaller meals throughout the day.
Those meals are easier to digest and will not leave you feeling bloated or uncomfortable by the time you go to bed. Limit your liquid consumption as bedtime draws closer. Consuming excess liquids will force you to take up throughout the night to use the restroom.
Clear Your Mind
When your brain is running a mile a minute trying to play catch up on the events of the day, sleep becomes nearly impossible to achieve. Your mind continually races as it makes plans for tomorrow, worries about things that may never happen or tries to make sense of something that took place earlier in the day. As a result, you lay awake staring at the ceiling instead of enduring a restful night of sleep.
Get in the habit of keeping a small notebook and pen beside your bed or in a nightstand drawer. As you begin to wind down for the night, write down everything that is weighing on your mind at the moment. The simple act of getting everything down on paper tends to clear your mind, which makes sleep come easier.
Close Electronic Devices
Modern technology makes it nearly impossible to unplug from an electronic device for an extended period of time. Focusing your attention on the bright screen of a smartphone, tablet or other electronic device works against your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin. When your body lacks melatonin, you will be unable to reach a state of deep sleep that is necessary for your body to recharge at the end of the day.
Therefore, you need to get into the habit of turning off your electronic devices at least 30 before you start heading for bed. That gives your body time to gain exposure to natural, more soothing lights that will help your body prepare for a restful night of sleep. If you can’t limit your exposure to electronics consider using blue blocker sun glasses like The Gamma Ray Flexlite.
Practice Stress Reduction Techniques
Stress can easily consume your day, bringing tension to your muscles and a headache to your mind. It often grabs a hold of you and squeezes tighter and tighter until you feel as if you are going to burst. When your body becomes tense from stress, you are unable to reach a state of relaxation that is necessary for sleeping.
To prevent stress from interfering with your sleep schedule, start practicing stress reduction technique right before climbing into bed. Examples of these techniques include yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, gentle stretching, Foam Rolling, and Acupressure Mats can help induce sleep hormones. Pick up a good book and spend a few minutes reading before falling asleep.
Go To Bed Early
It sounds simple yet going to bed early can do wonders for you when it comes to receiving a good night of sleep. The natural circadian rhythms in your body function by moving your body into a natural sleep state when the world goes dark and slowly waking your body up when the natural light returns. Any attempt on your part to disrupt this natural process results in a disturbance in your sleep pattern.
Avoid going to bed after midnight as often as possible. You are more likely to receive quality hours of sleep prior to midnight than you are afterwards. By that point in the night, your body begins working towards slowly waking you up when morning arrives. Therefore, going to bed after midnight will cause exhaustion to set in the next day.
Aim for Seven Hours of Sleep
As night time arrives, you want to begin winding down for the day. Ideally you need to receive a minimum of seven hours of restful sleep each night. It can be easier said than done when you have responsibilities, such as work deadlines and children, that may occasionally prevent this from happening.
Aim for as many consistent nights as possible where you see seven to nine hours of sleep at a time. That helps offset the nights where, despite your best efforts, you only see a few hours of sleep at a time. Start by determining the time that you need to be up by in the morning and work backwards from there. For example, if you have to be up by 5:30 am for work, you need to be heading towards bed by 10:00 and falling asleep no later than 10:30 pm. That gives you plenty of time to go through a normal bedtime routine and quietly wind down for the night.
A Final Thought
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is vital towards your health and well-being. You need to take the necessary steps towards receiving a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. Start practicing stress reduction exercises, writing your worries down in a notebook and doing some simple stretches each night. Put down those pesky electronic devices at least 30 minutes before climbing into bed. Taking these steps will put you on the path towards restful nights of sleep.