We all know that it’s important to get enough sleep every night. Here are the five little things that might be ruining your sleep — and how to develop better bedtime habits.
Think about the last time you missed a good night’s sleep — how did you feel the next morning? My guess is, not the best.
Our bodies heal themselves while we’re fast asleep at night, and when we miss out on deep sleep, we also rob ourselves of the regeneration we need.
There are lots of things that can mess with our circadian rhythm and cause us to stay up later than we should. Here are the top five things that might be ruining your sleep, and how to change your habits so you can get a good night’s rest.
1. Sleeping with Too Much Light
Light interferes with our hormones, turning us into stressed-out insomniacs. Blue light in particular, like the kind we get from electronics, disrupts sleep hormones by throwing our circadian rhythms off.
For better sleep, make your room as close to pitch-black as possible. Shut off all your glowing electronics, and cover your windows with dark curtains. By making your room as black as possible, you’ll get your hormonal system back on its original sleep schedule, making it much easier for you to sleep deeply.
2. Not Having a Bedtime Routine
One of the best ways to ensure good sleep is to prep for it. Most of us work frantically or compulsively think until we hit the bed, with no restfulness in between.
Start with a solid nighttime routine. Give yourself some time to wind down for at least two hours before bed. This means turning off the electronics to do something relaxing, like reading, journaling, soft music or a warm Epsom salt baths. Try lighting candles or diffusing your favorite essential oils.
3. Keeping Stimulated
Coffee and other stimulants drive up cortisol, which inhibits the release of melatonin we need for sleep. Unfortunately, all that caffeine you drink during the day could be the culprit ruining your sleep.
As much as you might love your cup of Bulletproof Coffee in the morning, do not drink it past noon! In fact, you should stop stay away from all stimulating drinks in the afternoon, like green and black teas. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, so stop if you absolutely need an early afternoon coffee mix, make sure it’s at least 8 hours prior to bedtime.
Exercise also stimulates the rise of cortisol, so if you can, work out in the morning. Working out earlier in the day promotes hormonal balance and an easier time sleeping later on. If you prefer tomove at night, stick to relaxing forms such as gentle yoga, stretching, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, or even a quiet walk down the block.
4. Staying up Late
If you’ve ever gone camping, you know that it’s easier to sync your sleep to the sun — the way nature intended!
Of course, it’s difficult to go to bed with the sun, especially in the wintertime. Instead, see if you can make a push to go to bed by 10 pm. The body creates an extra surge of cortisol after 11 pm to keep you awake, and if you push yourself past 10:00 you may notice this.
5. Thinking About the Next Day
As tempting as it is to go over what you’ll do the next morning, bedtime is not the time or place for excessive planning. This only creates endless thinking that typically yields no actual useful results – especially considering your brain is only partially functioning because it’s bedtime.
Save the game planning for the morning, when your brain is ready to work to capacity.
What to Eat for Better Sleep
Our diet has a huge impact on our hormones, gut flora and metabolism – all of which impact our sleep. Nourish your body and brain to optimize your sleep with these simple guidelines:
- Eat omega-3 fats at dinner. These healthy fatty acids aid in brain functioning, and keep your brain nourished while sleeping. Also, easy-to-digest fats are great before bed because it keeps your energy levels stable longer. Otherwise, you risk going into a blood sugar drop in the middle of the night. Wild-caught sardines, salmon or mackerel are all great choices, but if you aren’t a fan of fish, try a supplement like krill oil two hours before bedtime.
- Take raw honey before bed. Just one tablespoon of raw honey on an empty stomach before bed might be enough to help you improve your sleep. Your brain uses glycogen stored in your liver at night, and raw honey replaces this supply so you can maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the night. Raw honey also improves bifidus bacteria in the gut, which populate during sleep, helping to create neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, helping you sleep deeper.
- Try grass-fed collagen. The easily digested fat and protein in grass-fed collagen truly help you sleep soundly. It can also improve your muscle recovery and aid in joint repair. The best part about collagen powder is that because it’s a fluffy powder, you can easily mix it into guilt-free late-night snacks.