10 Tips For Getting Better Sleep Tonight
Did you get enough sleep last night? If you're like the majority of adults, getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night seems more like a fantastical luxury versus a necessity. But while many of us may tell ourselves that we still function pretty darn well without optimal sleep, the truth is we're not.
Sleep allows your brain to do important house keeping: clearing out toxins, supporting learning and memory, and re-energizing your mind and body for the next day. Really, wouldn't we have ditched this seemingly super unproductive and vulnerable period in our day otherwise as we evolved?
If you're not getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, you're not operating at your full potential. Your mood, energy levels, productivity, metabolism, and health are all going to suffer.
I completely understand that getting sufficient sleep is way easier said than done. So to help give you a jump start, I'm sharing 10 tips for getting better sleep tonight.
1. Identify what is keeping you awake.
Before we dive into some tips, the first thing I do with my clients is identify WHY you’re not getting enough sleep. Take a minute to identify what is preventing you from getting a full night’s rest so that you can focus on how to correct it.
- Is your mind racing?
- Feeling restless?
- Uncomfortable in your hotel bed or distracted by noises or lights?
- Did you eat a heavy meal right before bed or have that third (or fifth…) cup of coffee late in the afternoon?
- Did you want to sleep but you had to stay up for a deadline instead?
- Is there just too much to do in a day?
In order to find solutions we need to know the problem.
This can be multifaceted and complicated, especially if you just feel like there's too much to do in a day or stress and anxiety are keeping you up at night. I help my clients tackle these root problems for a better night's sleep. This isn't something that happens overnight (no pun intended), but taking small steps towards fixing the underlying issue is a critical step to achieving optimal rest.
2. Wear blue light blocking glasses or stay away from electronics an hour before bed.
For most of my clients it’s not realistic to recommend stepping away from all electronics an hour before bed. If you can – great! Otherwise, it’s super important to wear blue light blocking glasses to filter out the light from LED devices that are telling your brain to stay awake.
Blue light decreases the body’s ability to produce melatonin. Studies have shown that wearing blue light blocking glasses before bed improves sleep quality and increases the amount of melatonin your body produces. Plus, there are lots of great options out there so you have that smart and sexy vibe before bed.
Instead of wasting time on Youtube or Instagram right before bed, don’t underestimate the power of reading! Reading takes you away from harsh screens and helps to distract your mind. Often just a few pages can be enough to drift off to sleep. And if you don't fall asleep at least you're giving your brain a boost.
4. Try belly/diaphragmatic breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a great hack for helping to decrease stress. Diaphragmatic breathing shifts your body from the flight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system state to the rest and digest parasympathetic state. And you can do it anywhere!
This is a helpful article with instructions on the technique. Just a few of these breaths before bed can help you unwind.I also use this during the day before a stressful surgery or before eating on days that I notice I’m about to inhale my food in a stressed out I-have-no-time-to-eat state.
5. Use lavender essential oils.
Lavendar essential oils are an amazing and natural way to decrease anxiety and to prepare your body for sleep. You can find small rollers or sprays that are perfect for keeping by your bed or in your carry-on. When you want to start to unwind roll some on your wrists or spray your pillow for a spa-like tranquil feel to unwind.
6. Do gentle, relaxing bedtime stretches.
Taking a few moments to stretch and take some deep breaths at the end of the day can be hugely beneficial - especially if you’ve been at a desk all day. You don’t have to be a yogi to do some gentle stretches before bed. This is an easy yoga flow I created that can be done anywhere.
7. Listen to a sleep playlist or story.
There are a lot of awesome apps available now with bedtime stories or music designed to help you drift off to sleep. Headspace and Calm are awesome meditation apps that also have bedtime stories or guides to help you fall asleep.
I’m obsessed with Brain.fm which uses functional music to steer your brain into the desired mental-state. I use it all the time when I need to focus (I’m using it right now as I write this), but it’s also amazing for getting your brain ready for sleep, too.
You can also create your own playlist of chill music that you love and that helps you to de-stress. Start playing it 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep every day to help give your body the cue to wind down.
8. Block out light and noise with an eye mask, ear plugs, black out curtains, or white noise machines.
External light and noises can easily disturb your attempts at drifting off to sleep. An eye mask is a great way to block out light no matter where you are. Blackout curtains are a good option for your bedroom. In hotels, use a hanger from the closet with clips to close the gap between the curtains.
If noise is keeping you up play white noise on your phone or invest in a white noise machine for your bedroom. If you’re traveling, keep earplugs in your bag or use noise-canceling headphones (bonus points if you listen to the Brain.fm sleep mode).
9. Swap alcohol for calming tea before bed.
It’s easy to want to sip a whiskey while working on your late-night deck. But while the alcohol is going to make you feel tired you’re more likely to wake up throughout the night and miss out on the restorative REM sleep that’s crucial for being on your A-game the next morning.
Sipping a cup of tea before bed can be a great start to your bedtime ritual. Chamomile tea is an awesome option. Chamomile not only helps to improve sleep but it’s also great for digestion (perfect to enjoy after dinner), decreasing anxiety, boosting your immune system and lowering blood sugar. Another popular option is Celestial Seasoning’s Sleepy Time tea.
10. Create a bedtime routine.
This is especially important if you travel and tend to be in different environments when you sleep. A bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complicated or long - use some of these tips and find what works for you.
By creating a short routine that you do every night you can send the message to your body that it’s time to wind down. This can involve putting your blue light blocking glasses on, listening to a chill playlist, doing your skin-care routine, taking a few moments for breathing or meditation, rolling on some lavender, or doing a few stretches.
Not getting enough sleep impacts all of the Life Boost B's (Belly, Brain, and Blood sugar)! The good news is that improving your sleep will have an amazing impact on your whole body health. Do you struggle to get enough sleep? What's one tip you're going to start implementing tonight for a better night's rest? Sweet dreams. :-)