You may have heard there are numerous benefits from getting a good night’s sleep. After all, the National Institutes of Health attribute adequate sleep to better mental and physical health and improved quality of life overall. To reap these benefits, you need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night. If you have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, it can be frustrating. But you’re not alone. Approximately one-third of Americans have the same struggles. The good news is there are things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Here are five ways you can promote the benefits of sleep so you can stay healthy and happy.
According to research, exercise can not only help you fall asleep more quickly but it can also improve the overall quality of your sleep. Specifically, moderate aerobic exercise is what you need in order to increase the amount of deep sleep you get each night. You just have to be careful of the timing of your aerobic exercise because exercising too close to bedtime could leave you too pumped up for sleep. While aerobic exercise is ideal, experts say that any type of movement can help. Specifically, if you have a hard time calming your mind before bed, yoga is a great option — there are many specific yoga routines designed specifically for promoting sleep. So make sure to include women’s yoga pants as part of your pre-bedtime wardrobe!
Just like there are certain foods and beverages that help you wake up in the morning, the same is true for what you eat and drink before bedtime. While it may be obvious to avoid caffeine at nighttime, some other choices may not be so obvious. For example, although a glass of wine is a popular nightcap, it can actually have an adverse effect on your sleep. You may fall asleep quicker, but you’re less likely to stay asleep throughout the night. Instead, opt for something like cherry juice that has melatonin to help you catch those z's. Additionally, certain health conditions may require special care in terms of what you eat. For example, if you suffer from heartburn, you’ll want to avoid spicy foods before bedtime. Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates for dinner — they promote the release of sleepy serotonin.
If your bedroom promotes feelings of stress or discomfort, you’re probably not going to want to sleep in it. To make your bedroom inviting for sleep, there are several things you can do. Most importantly, try not to use your bedroom for anything other than sleeping. That means no work laptop and no TV. Try to make it free of clutter or anything that can distract you. Once you’ve done that, make sure your bedding makes you want to jump right in. Flannel sheets under a big fluffy comforter should do the trick. Keep the color scheme in mind too. Calming colors include subtle blues, greens, pinks, and violets, and yellows, as well as white and cream.
Even though smartphones have benefits like helping us stay connected wherever we are and whatever time of day it is, those very benefits could be the same ones preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Let's be honest, how many times have you texted someone or tagged a friend in a social media post past 9 p.m., wondering if they’re still awake? Disruptions aside, if your phone isn’t silenced and put out of reach while you’re lying in bed, it can be tempting to reach for it and scroll social media until your eyes get heavy. But doing this stimulates your brain, making it difficult for it to shut down for rest. Additionally, there is ongoing research on the blue light emitted by electronics and how it negatively impacts rest. If you have a hard time falling asleep, consider reaching for a good book instead of your phone.
Sometimes, letting go of any negativity that occurred during the day can be hard to do. Journaling has become extremely popular over the past decade. Loyalists swear by the practice as it gets all their negative thoughts out of their heads and onto the paper — essentially saying goodbye to the negativity so they can clear their minds and start fresh the next day. Keep a journal next to your bed with some nice pens that you enjoy writing with. Make it a habit to slip into some comfy pajamas each night and start writing your worries away.
Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep. Be good to yourself and try one of these tips before your head hits the pillow tonight.