We all know that getting a good night’s rest – ideally seven to eight hours for adults – is important to living a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. We also know that, sometimes, a good night of rest can be really hard to come by.
The reasons can vary, from too much caffeine to more serious issues to mitigate like anxiety, stress and even insomnia.
If you believe you are struggling from anxiety or insomnia, there is help available for you. The trained counselors at MyTherapist will listen to your situation, help you understand possible solutions and help you develop strategies and best practices to find a good night’s rest.
When you’re struggling to get a good night of sleep it can be overwhelming to understand why and to try new strategies for a sleepy night. However, there are some things you can do on your own, to encourage peaceful sleepy nights. Here are some tips for getting a good night’s rest.
Set your schedule with the sun
Have you ever noticed how it’s harder to wake up when it’s still dark outside?
Well before alarm clocks and cell phones, people woke with the sunrise and prepared for bed with the sunset. While this may not always be feasible with today’s schedules and distractions, the sun is an incredibly powerful way to better align your sleep and wake schedules.
Seeing sunlight upon waking in the morning resets your circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock inside your brain that tells your body when to prepare for rest and when to wake up from resting. A bonus: spending 15 minutes near a sunny window or being outdoors is another way to promote restful nights.
And, the reverse is true. As the day goes on and sunlight begins to wane, your internal clock will start to send signals to your brain to prepare your body for sleep.
If waking and resting with the rising and setting sun isn’t something you can work into your routine, you can purchase a sunlight lamp that mimics both sunrise and and can produce similar effects in your brain.
Wake up at the same time every day
When your alarm buzzes each morning, it is tempting to want to hit the snooze button a few times to savor a little bit more sleep. However, waking at the same time consistently every day is one way you can promote better sleep habits and a restful night of sleep.
Waking at the same time every day is another way to support your internal clock and tell your body to prepare for sleep later in the day.
To make this work for you, try to pick a wake up time you can even observe on the weekends, not just during the work week.
Have active, stimulated days
Most of us likely spend our days in front of computers or other devices. It’s important to remember to move during the day for many health reasons, and a good night’s sleep is one of them.
Stimulating both your brain and your body will help you burn off the necessary energy you need before preparing for bed.
While exercising right before bed isn’t the best option, exercising one-to-two hours before you turn off the lights is a good way to prepare your body for sleep.
Additionally, find ways to invigorate your mind during the day, too. Maybe you read a book, try a new hobby, or have an interesting conversation with someone. Staying busy during the day will help you drift off to sleep at night.
Cut the caffeine
Sometimes we all need that afternoon coffee to get us through the rest of our workday. But that afternoon coffee could be keeping us awake well into the night.
If you’re having a hard time falling asleep, try to adjust your relationship with caffeine. Maybe you change your afternoon coffee or soda to a decaf coffee, tea or even sparkling water. Consider other sources of caffeine in your diet, too. Are you eating dessert in the evening that has sugar and chocolate? Are you drinking alcohol with your meal? A good rule of thumb is to minimize your caffeine consumption at or around 2 p.m. so your body has a few hours to digest the caffeine and it won’t interfere with sleep.
Have a calming evening routine
You’ve likely heard this advice for babies before, but the same rings true for adults. Creating a calming evening routine that you follow consistently night after night is another way to remind your brain and your body that it’s nearly bedtime.
Try to limit any high-energy activities, like really intense workouts and other events. High-energy activities will only restimulate your brain and release endorphins that will ultimately fight against sleep.
Limiting screen time and other blue lights has also proven to be effective in helping people sleep well at night, as screens and devices have been shown to stimulate the brain and delay sleep.
Go to bed at the same time every night
Going to bed at the same time every night – yes, even weekends – is just as important as waking up at the same time every morning. When your brain and body know that bedtime is at the same time every day, they will have a much easier time preparing your body for sleep.
Consider talking to your doctor for sleep aids
If you have tried these strategies and you’re still having a hard time sleeping, please know you are not alone. You deserve a peaceful night of rest and talking with your doctor or another medical professional about your experiences can help you identify the right sleep aid for your particular situation.
At the end of the day, all we want to do is crawl into bed and drift off into our slumber. Sometimes, that can be harder for some people than others. Good sleep is a cornerstone of good health – and if you aren’t sleeping well, there are options out there to help you doze off each night and wake refreshed each morning.