Do you struggle to fall asleep?
When we think about getting healthier, we generally think about diet and exercise. However, getting enough restful sleep every night could be just as important, if not more important, than any other factor. If you are not giving your body time to rest and recover, you will never achieve the level of results that you are working hard for in the gym. In fact, not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can, and will, negatively impact your results and your health.
Muscles need sleep in order for them to grow. Hormones need sleep for them to stay in balance. Your brain needs sleep so it can slowdown, rest, and recharge. Not getting enough sleep can lead to depression, weight gain, sickness, and many more health problems. Unfortunately, many Americans suffer from the inability to fall asleep every night. If you are someone who has experienced this at all in your life, these next 8 tips are for you.
#1 – Turn off All Electronics
This includes cell phones, tablets, TVs, and computers. Screens on electronic devices produce blue light, which is detrimental to your sleep cycle, or “circadian rhythm.”
#2 – Use Lavender
Lavender is a great scent that can help lower stress, and anxiety. It naturally slows down your breathing and heart rate, which helps release the anxiety that you feel, and help you relax. You can add lavender essential oil to a diffuser, can spray it on your pillow, or can rub it on your wrists and bottom of your feet.
#3 – Read A (light) Book
One of the biggest issues with falling asleep is not being able to turn your brain off from thinking. Getting in the habit of reading before bedtime can help. Just make sure to pick a book that is light, and enjoyable to read. The last thing you need to do is to read a business book, or a book related to work, and make the problem worse!
#4 – Keep A Journal
Writing in a journal at the end of each day is a great way to help wind down, and slow your brain down before bed. Writing your thoughts and feelings down about the day will help you have clarity on the things that had happened, and can significantly lower bedtime anxiety. Journaling before bed is also a great way to recognize everything that you are grateful for. Writing down everything that you are thankful for, and all of the positives from the day, can help set the tone for a relaxing and restful sleep.
#5 – Plan for Tomorrow
It doesn’t matter if you use old school pen and paper, or a new-aged app on your smart phone, preparing your schedule for the next day can be crucial for falling asleep. When there is a clearly defined schedule, and list of tasks to get done for the next day, it can help stop your brain from spinning into the tornado of thinking about everything that needs to get done. That “tornado” mindset causes major anxiety and nights of insomnia. Having a written down, or programmed schedule, and tasks list for the following day, you can go to bed rest assured that you have planned for all of your to-do’s for the following day.
#6 – Stick to the Plan
Humans tend to do better when we are in a structured routine. Having a routine that you do every night before bed can help keep you staying consistent with your sleep habits. Having a set routine before bed gives you the freedom to slow down your thinking, and put your brain into a relaxed state of mind. You are only allotted a certain amount of “decision making energy” everyday. If your “decision making energy” is nearly depleted by the end of the day, which is the case for most of us, having a set routine before bed is a must. Sticking to a routine will help keep you consistant with your sleep.
#7 – Set the Mood
Sleep specialists agree that your enviroment plays a significant role in the quality of sleep that you get. As we discussed in tip #1, you want to make sure that all electronic screens are turned off to prevent emmition of blue light. For better quality sleep it is reccomended to keep your room dark, and at a cool temperature. Playing sounds such as white noise, or sounds of nature can help create a relaxing and restful atmosphere.
#8 – Put Yourself to Bed
When you’re laying in bed and having a hard time falling asleep it can be difficult to shut out your thoughts. Use mediation techniques to help shift your focus from the task of falling asleep, to just being present in the moment. One of our favorite techniques consists of laying down flat on your back. Slowly inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a second, and slowly exhale fully back through your nose. Coupled with this breathing technique, close your eyes and start “putting” each body part asleep in your mind. Start at your toes and slowly work your way up to your head, feeling as if each body part is falling asleep independantly.