Written By Jamie Benjamin
Healthy sleeping habits will make a world of difference to just about everything in your life. Proper rest will allow you to deal with stress and challenges far more effectively, and will give you the energy you need to achieve your goals. However, it isn’t just about the amount of sleep you get. You also need good-quality sleep every night. In this article, we’ll explore how to set yourself up to get the right sleep for your body.
Set Your Internal Clock Through Consistency
All of our bodies have an internal clock, which is why we find it so disorienting when we travel to a different time zone. If you can go to bed and get out of bed at the same time every day, you’ll be setting your body clock.
Your brain will know when it’s time to shut down and get ready to sleep. It will also know when it’s expected to wake up and get ready for the day ahead.
The key to this is consistency. You need to stick to these hours—or as close to them as possible—even over the weekend. If you’ve had a poor night’s sleep, you should still get up at the same time in the morning to reinforce the message for your internal clock.
Reduce Your Intake Of Sleep-Interfering Stimulants
Food and drink we enjoy in our everyday life, like coffee, tea, and chocolate, can easily keep us awake. They contain stimulants like caffeine and sugar that aren’t necessarily bad for you, but they do stimulate your brain. If you ingest them too close to your bedtime--within four to six hours—they may prevent you from falling asleep.
You should also consider making your evening meal lighter and earlier. If you’re still digesting food when you go to bed, it can be difficult to fall asleep. The heavier the meal, the longer it will take to digest, and the more likely it is to cause indigestion too.
Establish a Pre-Sleep Routine
Our bodies and minds love a routine. Human beings are, after all, creatures of habit. To prepare yourself for sleep, you can set a routine that relaxes you and tells your mind that it’s time to slow down and switch off for the day.
This can include taking a bath, reading a book, and drinking hot chamomile tea or warm milk. You should absolutely avoid doing anything like work or exercise that gets your heart rate up. Even having a heated conversation, whether good or bad, can interrupt your body’s preparation for sleep.
Update Your Bedroom
Where you sleep is just as important as how you prepare for sleep. If your bedroom is too busy, crowded, loud, or stimulating, you may have difficulty getting your mind to switch off and your body to relax.
Take a look around your bedroom and see if there’s anything that could interfere with your sleep. Noises that are either constant or loud, light from inside or out, high or low temperature, and even your mattress and bedding are all factors. Once you’ve identified the issues, go about fixing them.
For external noise, listening to a guided sleep meditation, a white noise machine or using ear plugs can help reduce or eliminate it. For light, consider blackout curtains, (the heavy fabric will also help with noise reduction) or wear a sleep mask over your eyes.
It’s important to look at the tech and devices you have in your room. TVs, tablets, mobile phones, and even a smartwatch can keep you awake because of notifications, machine humming, or display lights. If you can remove them entirely, or remove them from sight when you’re in bed, you’ll likely have a better night’s sleep.
The temperature of your room can affect how well you sleep, as can your beddings. You may struggle to sleep if your room is too hot, and you won’t be able to relax fully if you’re constantly cold as well. Ensure you have proper ventilation or heating and that your duvet is thick or thin enough to regulate your temperature correctly.
Your mattress should also be firm and offer adequate support, and it’s important that you have the right type for your body. It may hurt your back if it’s too soft, and you may struggle to get comfortable if it’s too hard.
Understand The Impact Of Natural And Artificial Light
Light has a major impact on our bodies and brains—both natural light and artificial. Instinctually, we’re more awake during daylight and grow tired when the sun goes down. Artificial light can simulate this same instinctual reaction, affecting our ability to understand when to go to sleep naturally. Computer screens, smartphones, and televisions can all keep our brains awake simply because of the light they emit.
Part of your pre-sleep routine should be to switch off screens and start reducing the amount of light around you. It’s good to switch off the main lights in the room and have a softer light source from a bedside lamp just before you go to sleep.
If you’re tired during the day, you can give your body a jolt of daylight to help you stay awake. Take a quick break during your lunch hour or afternoon coffee time to go and stand outside. This exposure to sunlight will help stimulate your mind to keep on working.
Don’t Force Sleep
A huge hindrance to a good night’s rest is trying to force the issue. We can lie in bed for hours worrying about why we’re still awake, tossing and turning to get comfortable, to no avail. All this does is raise your anxiety levels, which will always prevent you from falling asleep.
If you haven’t fallen asleep within 20 minutes of switching off your light and settling down, don’t try and force yourself to do so. Instead, do something relaxing that can distract your mind from the fact that you aren’t sleeping. However, make sure that it’s not an activity that will wake you up by stimulating your body or mind. The key is to stay relaxed until you’re feeling tired enough to stop what you’re doing and drift off to sleep.
By maintaining healthy sleep habits, you’ll feel more refreshed upon waking and be more productive during the day. You’ll reduce your stress levels significantly as well. Cultivating a healthy sleep routine is an important part of your well-being, and it’s worth the effort.