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How to Sleep Better

Sleep. The elixir of life. Those life-changing hours of darkness. Are you able to sleep for 7-9 hours every night? What's the quality like? I remember back when I was waking up at 3am every night, hurriedly writing notes in my phone about all of the work I had to do and couldn't forget about. And I was STILL waking up at 5 to get to 6am workout classes. That was the height of my journey toward burnout. If we're not letting our minds and body restore through quality sleep, the negative effects will show up in a myriad of ways. Sleep can affect everything from our immune systems, hormones, and brain processing, to our appetite and blood pressure.


If you're unable to get solid ZZZs, and wake up feeling rested, you're not alone. However, the reasons for sleep disturbances are plentiful. Even if you don't know exactly the root cause of your sleep disturbances, here are some simple ways you can work on improving your sleep quality. In this post we are going to explore improving sleep through:


  1. Sleep environment

  2. Sleep hygiene habits

  3. What you're consuming


Sleep Environment


It's important that the room we sleep in is set up for its main purpose: rest! Your ideal bedroom will be:

  • Dark. If you have a lot of light leaking in from outside, try room darkening drapes. If that's not accessible, you can spend just a few dollars on a sleep mask. As someone always on the road, my black silk sleep mask is always right next to my passport, and just as important for me!

  • Quiet. I know this can be difficult to avoid if you're by a busy street, but as much as you can, try to minimize noise. If it's an issue, you can consider ear plugs or a white noise sound machine.

  • Cool: Since heat is a huge disruptor of REM sleep, it's recommended to keep your room in the 60-67 degree range


Sleep Hygiene


Sleep hygiene is revolving around the habits that you create before bedtime. These days we're so inundated with blue light and stimuli like responding to emails and texts right up until we try to fall asleep, that our body simply isn't ready for rest. Here are tricks you can weave into your bedtime routine to start to prep body and mind for a restful night.

  • Eliminate screen use an hour or so before bed. If you do need to be online, consider going into your settings and make sure night mode is activated on your device so it emits amber light, or get yourself a pair of blue-light blocking glasses.

  • Take a hot bath or shower before bed. This relaxes our body and can trigger us to feel ready for sleep. Try doing so by candlelight to make it even more calming.

  • Avoid intense exercise late at night, which can stimulate us and and keep us activated for hours.

  • Try sticking to a regular schedule. Our bodies love routines, and if you stick to a regular bedtime, you'll start to notice yourself more effortlessly feeling ready for sleep. If you develop a regular sleep routine such as dimming the lights and reading before bed, your body will take que and start to learn the rhythm.


What you're Consuming


There's plenty of things that can stimulate our bodies and prevent deep sleep. Everyone reacts to the following items differently, but if you're struggling with sleep, it's worth exploring your relationship with the below.

  • Alcohol: While many people think that a drink or two can help them sleep, the truth is that that's usually just aiding in falling asleep initially, but can disrupt restful REM sleep later in the night. So, when you need deep Zzz's, you might find it beneficial to avoid alcohol before bed.

  • Sugar: We all know that sugar wires us. Consuming it right before bedtime is just activating us and can prevent us from being able to fall asleep. If you have after-dinner dessert, try going on a light walk after dinner to use some of that energy before bed.

  • Caffeine: Everyone is different here. I personally notice negative effects if I consume coffee after noon, while others can have it well into the afternoon. Try experimenting with various times that you stop refilling your coffee, and be mindful of others forms of caffeine that may be sneaking in late at night such as dark chocolate.

  • Eating just before bed: Your body needs at least a couple hours to digest before bed, and if you go to sleep on a full stomach, your body is going to be activated and busy digesting as you sleep. This may mean you're not entirely in resting mode as the digestion continues. If you can, try to finish meals 2-3 hours before bed.


While finding ways to get good quality sleep can be very bio-individual, these are basic principles that the majority of us would benefit from exploring. Have you noticed that any of these elements above, or others, impact your sleep quality? Shoot me a note and let me know!


Happy Zzzs,

Anya







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