Header Photo by Marcus Aurelius
When it comes to living a happy, healthy life, getting better sleep is one of the oldest tricks in the book. So why is it so hard to actually pull off? Squeezing in more time for shut-eye during busy weeks can be tough. On top of that, we live in a world of constant digital connection in which our to-do lists stretch on until the early hours and many of our bosses feel entitled to email us way past our bedtimes.
All that said, we owe it to our bodies to do the best we can to get a restful night’s sleep every evening. Getting good sleep is healthy and efficient: when we’re well-rested, we’re more productive, more fun to spend time with, and generally handle stress with much more grace. Try a few of the below tricks to get quality rest each night.
Create Bedtime Rituals
Rituals help your mind and body get into “rest mode” each night, and they also provide you with a dependable unwinding routine that you can look forward to during the day. Try ending your day with a hot bath, working through a few relaxing stretches before laying down, or reading a chapter of a book each night when you get into bed.
Lower the Lights in Your Space
About an hour or two before bedtime, create some relaxing “mood lighting” in your space with the help of twinkle lights, a nightlight, or a dimmer switch. Also consider ditching your technology an hour or two before bed, as the “blue light” emitted by digital screens makes it tough for our minds to unwind. If you can’t put away your screens altogether, activate your phone’s “night shift” option or set up a computer app that limits your screen’s blue light emissions during evening hours.
Only Use Your Bedroom for Sleeping
If your living space is large enough, aim to use your bedroom solely for sleeping and relaxing. Working, watching TV, and other pursuits can be delegated to the living room, dining room, or other areas of your home. You can even consider charging your cell phone in another room of your home overnight. This way, when you retire to the bedroom each night, you’ll instantly feel relaxed and your body will know it’s time to sleep.
Combat Late-Night Thoughts
If your mind starts to race the second your head hits the pillow, keep a notebook next to your bed to jot down any thoughts that pop up. If you think of something you need to remember to accomplish the next day, writing it down can help you leave it behind until the morning so you can drift off to sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep and don’t want to get caught in a loop of anxious thoughts, try focusing on a positive topic as you drift off, like mentally listing all the day’s events that you’re grateful for.
Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day
Curb your caffeine intake after about 2 p.m. so you’re not wired at bedtime. On nights before you have to get up early, limit how much alcohol you consume as well.
Pay Attention to the Details
Sometimes the little things can make all the difference. If you have trouble relaxing or are the type who loves to stay up as late as possible, try creating a positive bedtime environment with details like candles, an eye mask, or extra-fluffy pillows.
It’s not easy to get a great night’s sleep every evening, but we owe it to ourselves to always try. A well-rested person is a happier, healthier person. So go ahead, catch some extra shut-eye. You deserve it.