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With the stressful world we live in, there’s no wonder sleep has become a big problem. About a quarter of Americans develop insomnia every year and while we’ve all experience the effects of a sleepless night – grouchiness, fatigue, and even a loss of motor skills – sleeping does a lot more for our bodies than just hitting the reset button.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep plays a key role in regulating many bodily processes, but not many people are aware of the major implications sleep deficiency has on the body. Sleep maintains healthy brain function as well as emotional health. It also improves learning, attentiveness, decision making, and creativity. Sleep deficiency can change brain activities in these areas, which can cause an inability to concentrate, mood swings, and erratic behavior.
Performance level is also affected since sleep deprived brains tend to fare worse. This is particularly dangerous for drivers and those who work in dangerous fields.
Why are people having trouble falling asleep?
Here are a few reasons insomnia and other sleep problems are on the rise:
- Increased smartphone use prior to bed
- Increased stress and anxiety
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol
- Not setting a regular sleep schedule and routine
Getting sufficient sleep is crucial for your well-being. Check out these smart sleeping tips to help you sleep better, faster.
1. Filter Out Your Smartphone’s Blue Light
Smartphone screens are notorious for ruining a good night’s sleep but not in the way you might think.
Blue light from monitors and screens contributes to a disruption in our sleep cycles because it interferes with our body’s internal clocks. Blue light tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime, which is why it’s so difficult to fall asleep when you wind down with your smartphone.
Production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, is inhibited when you view blue light.
Studies have shown that limiting phone use an hour before bed is effective at regulating sleep and preventing insomnia.
In addition to limiting phone use prior to bed, turn on your smartphone’s blue light filter to automatically turn on in the evenings. You can do this on Apple devices by going into your Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift and setting it to Sunset to Sunrise.
For all other devices, go to Settings > Display > Blue Light Filter to toggle your display.
2. Exercise Daily
Exercise is immensely helpful in regulating sleep by lowering stress through the production of feel-good hormones.
Cardio is not only effective at getting your heart rate up and promoting a healthy weight, it can lower anxiety during bedtime, a major contributor of insomnia. Weight training is another stress relieving exercise option.
Strive to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes of intense exercise every day for better sleep.
3. Lower Stress and Anxiety Levels
Stress and anxiety are major contributors to insomnia. While daily exercise can dramatically lower stress and anxiety levels, there are other methods you can implement to further reduce stress.
Guided meditation is a great way to rally in intrusive thoughts before bed.
Spending time with pets, engaging in hobbies, and journaling are other ways you can lower anxiety to healthier levels.
4. Limit Naps
If you have difficulty falling asleep at night, limit naps so that your body can be thoroughly tired when it comes time to go to bed.
Had a restless night and could really use an afternoon nap? Nap for a maximum of 1-2 hours so that you can resume your regular sleep schedule at night.
5. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
A well balanced diet supplies your body with essential nutrients that support healthy sleep.
Strive to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet.
Limit consumption of caffeine in coffee, energy drinks, and soda. In addition, sugary drinks and foods should be avoided. Excess salt and fat can also contribute to troubled sleep so it’s important to reduce these ingredients in your diet as well.
Despite common misperceptions that alcohol helps you sleep, alcohol can actually disrupt sleep in many ways.
Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to fall into REM, the most restorative type of sleep. It also worsens breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea, induces extra trips to the bathroom, and disrupts your natural circadian rhythm.
6. Design a Bedroom Suitable for Sleep
Your bedroom should be well suited for sleep.
Incoming noise, bright lights, a bedroom that’s too hot or too cold, and an uncomfortable mattress can all contribute to a bad night’s rest.
While these problems come with simple fixes, they take a bit of thought and preparation to set up so it’s important to not overlook these seemingly small details.
7. Create a Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine prepares your body and mind for sleep. Strive to go to bed around the same time every day to regulate your circadian (sleep-wake) rhythm.
A sleep routine can be as simple as brushing your teeth, implementing a skincare regimen, meditating, and winding down with a good book.
Recommended Bedtime Reads:
- Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World – William H. McRaven
- The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World – Dalai Lama
- It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered – Lysa TerKeurst
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts – Gary Chapman
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo
8. Take Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin is a naturally derived hormone released from the pineal glad to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin levels can drop due to a variety of sleep-related factors such as excessive stimulation from blue light, overconsumption of alcohol and caffeine, blood sugar imbalances, and age.
Low melatonin levels can result in insomnia and anxiety, which is why maintaining a healthy level of melatonin is crucial in sleep regulation.
Stress-Relax Tranquil Sleep is an effective supplement that combines a powerful combination of 5-HTP, melatonin, and suntheanine.
9. Try CBD
CBD is the non-psychoactive substance in hemp and cannabis plants. It’s used to treat a wide range of ailments including pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
If you find it difficult to relax for bed, adding a few drops of CBD tincture to your daily regimen can help improve your sleep.
Preserve your health. Get enough sleep by following these super simple sleep tips!
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