Insufficient sleep is a major health issue plaguing adults in the United States, and it is an essential component in achieving optimal health. The duration of your sleep is not as important as the quality of your sleep.
When we sleep we are able to integrate our current day, as well as other days that our mind and body are still processing. The effects of lack of sleep on our physical health are endless: weight gain, hormone instability, insulin imbalance, growth and fertility issues, learning and memory problems, as well as increased risk of disease and dangerous health conditions.
Poor sleeping habits are usually a result of certain lifestyle choices—some that we may not even know we are making. The good news? There are several changes you can make today in your own lifestyle that will result in better sleep tonight.
REV’s 10 Ways to Improve Sleep
1. Set a schedule
They always say that children thrive off routines—adults are the same way! Going to sleep at the same time every night will allow your body to settle into a rhythm that will become second nature. Establishing a bedtime routine is an amazing way to set yourself up for a restorative nights sleep!
2. Cut out caffeine at least 6 hours before bed
Caffeine too close to bedtime diminishes our quality of sleep, so it is best to avoid all caffeine (even green tea!) hours before you head to bed.
3. Limit alcohol
It is an illusion that alcohol helps people to sleep. Yes, it can help you fall asleep faster at times, but research has shown that it actually interrupts our circadian rhythms and blocks our REM sleep! REM sleep is the deep restorative sleep that our body needs to integrate and feel refreshed. By negatively altering your sleep patterns, alcohol greatly affects the quality of your sleep.
4. Clear the clutter
We are a huge believers in this. We have always felt that we sleep better when the room is tidy! Our external living space reflects our internal one, so the tidier the living space, the tidier the internal environment. Not to mention there is less to do in the morning if the room is already clean, so it saves a lot of time and energy.
5. Take a bath/shower
Taking a shower before bed is best because once you get out of the shower your body temperature decreases which is optimal for sleep. And this leads to our next suggestion…
6. Lower the house temperature
The optimal bedroom temperature range during sleep is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 75 and below 54 can disrupt sleep. An added bonus is that keeping the room cool at night helps your body to create brown fat, which increases metabolism!
7. Black out the room
We have blackout curtains and zero sources of light in our bedroom. The goal is to get the room as dark as possible, which produces melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. The darker the room is the more melatonin that’s produced.
8. No EMFs
EMFs are electromagnetic fields that surround electronic devices. In your bedroom, this could be anything from a digital alarm clock, a television, a smartphone, a tablet, etc. Because our bodies contain their own electric responses, exposure to EMFs can cause real problems, such as insomnia or migraine headaches.
After we learned about EMFs, we completely removed them from our bedroom. We do not use an alarm clock because they emit a large amount of EMFs, and usually that device is right next to your head! We keep phones outside of the bedroom as well and choose not to have a TV in our bedroom.
It’s also important to limit screen time before going to bed. The blue light emitted from devices like TVs and smartphones not only decreases melatonin, it also disrupts our sleep patterns by stimulating our brain and causing us to remain alert and awake. This also will affect the ingrained associations you brain has with your bed. If you spend a lot of time on your phone or watching TV while you are in your bedroom, your brain will begin to associate that activity with your bed, instead of sleep.
9. Go to bed when the sun goes down
As human beings, we are born with biological clocks, which means we are built to go to sleep when the sun goes down and to rise when the sun comes up. Fighting this innate schedule in our own body will cause problems physically and mentally.
10. Box breathing
Sometimes good sleep is just a breath away. The box breathing concept has proven effective in triggering relaxation, eliminating stress, and producing tranquility with a simple, deep breathing exercise. It help’s to shut down the primordial part of your brain that is always searching for what is wrong. It essentially tells the fear center in your brain that you are in control and eventually your mind stops racing and you fall right to sleep.
Watch Matt’s video below for a tutorial on this breathing technique:
While there are many ways to set yourself up for a successful night of sleeping, the best thing to do is create a schedule and a routine and stick to it.
Here is our own nighttime routine:
- Bath time
- Apply nighttime essential oils
- Read a book or tell stories
- Express our gratitude moments for the day
- Lights out: “night, night time”
If you are suffering from inadequate sleep, try some of the suggestions above and see what works best for you. You will be sleeping peacefully through the night in no time!
In gratitude and good health (and great sleep!),
Matt & Monica