Dr. Bacon here. As we approached our second month of being open here at Elevate…
Sleep is a crucial component of health, playing a key role in every system of your body. Despite its importance, many people don’t give sleep the attention it deserves. Getting adequate sleep allows you to think more clearly, heal properly, maintain a healthy weight, enjoy a better mood, increase your energy, and develop better overall health.
In this article, I will sum up my top five tips for falling asleep more easily and increasing the overall quality of your sleep.
1. Avoid light before bed and while you’re sleeping — When you are exposed to light, your brain suppresses the release of melatonin, which is crucial in helping your body prepare for sleep. Melatonin is an important player in your circadian rhythm, and it’s what causes you to start getting tired at night.
Two of the biggest culprits when it comes to suppressing melatonin before bed are computers and television screens. I recommend that you stop watching TV or using your computer at least an hour before bedtime. It can also be useful to dim the lights in the room during this pre-sleep period. Finally, cover or remove any light sources around your bedroom so it can be a completely dark space.
Quick Tip! — Try having dinner by candlelight. It’s not just romantic; it’s also calming and will allow your body to start preparing for sleep.
2. Do something relaxing before bed — A common reason for having trouble falling asleep is not being relaxed. When you’re in a more stressful mindset, it’s harder for your body to settle and fall asleep. You can prevent this by taking some time to do something calming like reading a book or listening to soft music.
Quick Tip! –Take a warm bath with epsom salts before bed. The warm water will help calm your mind, and the epsom salts will sooth and relax your muscles.
3. Don’t work in your bedroom — Your bedroom should be a place that is calming and relaxing. This means that if you also work there, you may find it hard to relax and stop thinking about work when it’s time to go to sleep. Having a clear separation between your bedroom and your work space can help take you out of the “work” mindset and allow you to relax more easily before bedtime.
Quick Tip! — Don’t have the space to use your bedroom only as a bedroom? Create a physical or visual barrier between your work space and your sleeping space. If you have a desk and computer in your room, put a screen between them and your bed, or simply cover your desk with a drape at night when you’re done working.
4. Make your bedroom comfortable — It pays to put some energy into making your bedroom the ideal environment for you to get the best sleep possible. On a basic level, you’ll want to make sure it’s dark and quiet.
However, you may want to go beyond the basics and further personalize your sleeping space. Do you prefer fresh air when you sleep? Keep a window open at night. Do you find that your body temperature fluctuates during the night? Wear layers and have layers on the bed so you can easily uncover or cover up as needed. Take some time to create a space that makes you want to sleep in it.
Quick Tip! — If you are unable to make it quiet enough in your room, consider adding white noise at night when you sleep. You can use a stereo playing sounds such as rushing water, rain, or wind. Or you can simply use a house fan.
5. Develop a routine — Creating a set routine to prepare yourself for bed is an excellent way to encourage your body to relax and fall asleep more easily. Each individual step of the routine is a small cue to your body to prepare for sleep. A routine can involve anything from listening to the same music before bed to always brushing your teeth after you dress for bed.
The actual details depend on your specific preferences, but the important part is having consistency so your body understands you are preparing it for bed. This will make relaxing for bed a habit and something that comes naturally.
Quick Tip! — An excellent way to make a bedtime routine stick is to start it at the same time each night. This will help you develop a regular habit that comes easily and relaxes you for bed.
Sleep is an essential part of health and it demands a certain amount of your attention. If you neglect sleep, you will inevitably increase your risk for lowered immune health, increased weight, lower energy, and decreased mood.
I hope these five tips will help you establish a healthy sleeping routine and start getting better and longer sleep.
Take care and be well,