Sleep impacts every aspect of our lives. Not only can it cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness, weight gain or loss, but it can also impact our cognitive functions. Your bedtime habits can even impact your mood and energy levels the next day. While most of us wish we had a magic wand to wave for a rested self, the reality isn't just as simple. With a few simple steps, we can fix our sleep and gain a more productive life.
Turn off your devices
We know you’ve heard this before, but, put down your devices at least an hour before bed. The circadian rhythm is the 24-hour body clock, which tells the body when to perform functions such as eating or sleeping. It is easily affected by lights and temperature, so the body can think it's daytime when you’ve got devices shining in your face. Blue spectrum lights are emitted from electronic devices which are particularly dangerous because they suppress melatonin release from your brain (1). The night-shift light, while better than nothing, does not stop this suppression from happening (2). So to fix your sleep, put your devices away and get yourself ready for bed.
Write in a journal
While in that device-free hour before bed, it can be beneficial to keep a journal. In a notebook, write down three achievements from your day. By reminding yourself of the progress you’ve made toward your goals and being mindful of the things you’re accomplishing, it can improve your overall mood. At the same time, try making a quick to-do list for the following day, which can help prevent them from keeping you awake (3). It allows you to put your worries aside for the day and allow yourself to get to a restful sleep, which is crucial in decreasing anxiety episodes. Take yourself out of your head and settle into a good book or a magazine. Our body is enriched with nerves and connections, which make some parts of our bodies more sensitive than others. Using relaxation techniques such as meditation can stimulate our nerves and help us experience a calming effect that extends the whole body (4). Before you pick up that book to read, take a few minutes to breathe and relax, focusing on your breath and clear your mind.
Use scent to create a reminder
By creating a habitual routine around going to bed, typically with scent, it helps to train your brain that it is time to fall asleep every night, regardless of how much you might be overthinking or how much you might worry about getting to sleep. “Researchers have demonstrated… that improving sleep hygiene knowledge and practices is an effective treatment for insomnia,”(5). Not only does the daily use of the scent near bedtime help to enforce in the brain that it’s time for you to fall asleep, but a review of over 15 different studies found that, “a majority of the study findings suggested a positive effect of essential oils on sleep,’(6). So try incorporating essential oils into your night time routine to remind your brain that it's time for bed.
Keep it cool and dark
Lights can be your biggest enemy when it comes to winding down at night. Help fix your sleep by turning down the lights ahead of your bedtime, as this helps your body to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulation of your body’s clock, so you can have a restful sleep (1). Not only will it signal your body that it’s time to get to bed, it’s cosy and relaxing. However, be wary of a warm temperature in the room. While it can be cosy at first, if it’s over 20C, it can take too long to fall asleep and lead to the room being uncomfortably warm (7).
Fix your gut health
Surprisingly, your gut health is important for good sleep. As stated, melatonin is the hormone responsible for your body clock, which is produced by the pineal gland in the centre of your brain. When the pineal gland isn’t functioning well, the auxiliary choice is your gut. So, taking care of the microbiome in your gut is vital for a good night of sleep (8). There are a number of ways to support your gut such as, eating fermented foods, foods high in fibre, or taking a probiotic supplement. Supplementing probiotics can support the immune system and intestinal health, elevating the mood, reducing stress, and reducing anxiety.
Change your scenery
Sometimes though, the best thing you can do to fix your sleep is to go take a break. Get out of your daily life, take a retreat, go to the countryside, the coast, just take the time to leave and get some relaxation. Allocate time to rejuvenate and rest, then return with full energy for the week ahead. By taking a break from the stress of everyday life, it can reduce your anxiety and prepare you for a restful night of sleep.
Ensuring you get a restful night of sleep is vital to your health. By taking steps to create a routine and signal your body that it is time for bed, it can improve your life drastically, giving you energy and protecting you against chronic health conditions.