There are basic do’s and don’ts in life. Don’t put metal in the microwave; don’t leave the dog alone with your dinner, and don’t expect me to be competent, coherent or cordial without a good night’s sleep and a strong cup of coffee. Seriously. I need my Zzz’s. Without adequate rest I get brain fog, bad moods, and bad hair from all that tossing and turning (okay, my hair’s a mess regardless but you’re missing my point). Good sleep is crucial to a productive day. So here’s the secret to ensuring you sleep well every night.
3 Simple Steps to the Best Sleep of Your Life
- Be Consistent & Listen to Your Body
Sticking to a regular sleep schedule helps train your body and brain. It’s all about habit, and forging a bedtime routine helps you adjust to falling asleep and maintaining good sleep patterns. Set a bedtime and stick to that nightly. Also, don’t sleep in too much on weekends, as more than an hour of extra sleep will throw off your sleep schedule (I admit, I am so guilty of violating this rule). Your body’s circadian rhythms regulate your sleeping patterns as well as your energy and hunger levels. They tell your brain what kind of slumber to seek (deep sleep versus light sleep) and when. Because your most restorative sleep dominates your sleep cycles earlier in the evening, you’ll feel more refreshed and energized if you hit the sack as soon as you feel sleepy. Keeping those dance club hours might seem like a rockstar move, but your body doesn’t like it — and your brain will be dull the following day as a result.
- Toss out Technology
If you’re like me, you get tired around ten every evening but don’t actually make it to bed until well after midnight. The latter part of my day is usually the most hectic, and that leaves me writing articles for clients, answering emails, and wrapping up the work day well into the evening. At some point, I crash on my couch with a hot cup of tea, a Netflix lineup, and the World Wide Web on my phone. And try as I might to take my sleepy self to bed, I get stuck in the Facebook feeds, watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns, and pinning awesome recipes to my Healthy Yum Pinterest board. Sound familiar? Technology is a trap, my friends. Don’t let it lure you in with its good-time promises. Shut off your devices a few hours before bed, and do what good girls and boys do: stop playing with your toys!
- Use Bedtime Yoga to Induce Sleep
Is your brain especially noisy at night, holding high notes like Mariah Carey in her early days? You try to shut down the commotion but that just makes things worse. Then a battle ensues: Shut up brain, you say. No, sir, your brain responds. I’m going to solve the world’s problems and calculate the budget right here in bed. Frustrating, right? On nights like this, you’ll definitely benefit from bedtime yoga. Relaxed stretching has a calming effect on your body and gentle, focused breathwork shifts your thoughts, taking you from that concert in your brain to a calmer place. Take ten minutes to practice a few poses: Child’s pose, Legs Up the Wall pose, even Plow pose. These quintessential resting poses can even be practiced in bed. If you’re not familiar with the asanas, check out the yoga books I recommend for newbies and advanced yogis alike.
Bedtime mantra: Release is the gateway to rest. Just breathe.
Bonus Tip: If you’re still finding it difficult to sleep well after implementing a bedtime routine, try using magnesium as an all-natural alternative to over-the-counter or prescription sleep medicines. It’s a proven sleep aid that works by decreasing cortisol (stress hormones) in the body. I personally have not tried the product, but my mother (a former insomniac) swears by it. What’s better than mom’s seal of approval?
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