I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t take much convincing for me to believe that a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. Along with stress, lack of sleep is one of the major health issues that is currently facing our society, bringing along a variety of health problems while also exacerbating other health issues you may have. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over one-third of adults don’t get enough sleep and those individuals are much more likely to suffer from a variety of health issues including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even depression.1
The good news is that there are many steps that can be taken in order to help increase the amount of sleep you get, as well as the quality of it.
Avoid “Insomnia-Trigger” Foods
Certain foods have a tendency to induce restlessness. One important thing to remember is this list won’t apply to everyone; some people do fine with an evening glass of wine or can eat the spices of dinners and not lose any rest, but for most of us, there is a list of foods that are known to cause insomnia or insomnia tendencies in many/most people.
Avoiding these foods is a major way to help boost your sleep
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Alcohol, sweets, spicy foods, foods heavy in refined carbohydrates, and in some cases, simply eating heavy dinners is enough to put your internal systems to work. When your body is working hard, it’s going to be hard to shut off and rest for the night.4
Stick to a Schedule
This point is one that shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone. We’ve all had those long stretches of great sleep, as well as streaks where it seemed like no matter what you did, sleep just wouldn’t come. The more inconsistent your schedule is, the harder it will be to get a good consistent night’s sleep.
Your bedtime at night and wake up time in the morning need to be around the same time, as often as possible. Molding yourself to a set schedule will train your body to get tired and shut down near bedtime and get up feeling rested in the morning.
This also means beware of “sleeping in” on the weekend or vacation. It may seem like a little treat, but it is actually screwing up your long-term sleep schedule and likely making it worse.
Beware of Blue Lights
“Blue lights” is a general term for any type of light that is unnatural: TV screen, smartphone, computer or laptop screen, etc. This is especially a problem at night because it messes with the body’s natural signals that tell it when to rest and when to get up. One study linked a connection to major blue light exposure and a tendency to eat more, and later in the night,5 which only helps to exacerbate the problem.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
You have the ability to train certain habits or disciplines into your life, and while this can sound intimidating, it shouldn’t. This is actually great news! Create a room that avoids common insomnia causing issues like blue lights, noise, temperature issues, or light. By doing this, you create a room that helps aid you in getting to sleep instead of fighting you over it.
The Sleep Foundation lists this as one of the best steps you can take to help get over insomnia and create the types of habits that make getting enough sleep much easier.6
Create Your Own Sleep Ritual
Having a great sleep ritual can be an absolute lifesaver when it comes to overcoming sleeplessness and other similarly related issues. In fact, the Harvard School of Medicine even goes into detail about the creation of sleep rituals and how they can assist.
This involves getting rid of outside distractions and creating a consistent series of steps or rituals that you will do every single night, prior to going to sleep. By doing this consistently, you create habits that then train your mind and body to prepare to shut down for the day and over time, can even train it to do so.7
For some, this means meditation, a little bit of relaxing background music without lyrics, and aromatherapy using lavender or pine essential oils, excluding all blue light. This works for some, but it is important to find a routine that works specifically for you.
Pro tip: Find an essential oil you find more soothing & relaxing than fresh or crisp – you want to chill out at night versus charging up. If you have an essential oil that reminds you of holidays with family or peaceful childhood times, those are often exceptional choices, combining non-stressful memories with scent and re-creating that setting in your room.
Exercise Is Your Friend
A little bit of daily exercise is definitely your friend when it comes to sleep. There are so many studies showing this that it is more or less considered common knowledge at this point, but there is an important caveat to make: you need to exercise earlier in the day.
Generally speaking, there are two phases of exercise. One comes right after when you are charged up and have plenty of hormones and energy coursing through you. The second comes several hours later as your body comes back down and longs for rest. This is why morning and early afternoon exercise can be so effective in helping you reach your sleep goals.
A good night’s sleep doesn’t have to be the thing of dreams. This is fully within your grasp and if you follow the six tips here you will be sure to get a better night’s rest! Check out the MONQ shop to find the right blend to ease you into sleep.
Photo Credits: inLitestudio/shutterstock.com, EKaterinaMarkelova/shutterstoc.com, lightpoet/shutterstock.com, JacobLund/shutterstock.com