Simple Ways To Get Better Sleep

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Simple Ways to Get Better Sleep

By Derika Crowley

As we get older, it can be a struggle to a get a full 8 hours of sleep, so it’s important to focus on quality vs. quantity when we get ready to rest. A good night’s sleep can help your skin appear brighter, make you feel less stressed and help your body stay alert through the day. Implementing a few of these tips and tricks into your night-time routine can help you help better and be more productive during the day. 

Tip 1: Stay in sync with your body’s natural sleep cycle (or create your own)

We all have a time that we naturally wake-up and get tired. Listen to your body and use this an internal clock to know when to get ready for bed. Working with your body can help improve the quality of your sleep. If it’s natural for you to sleep until noon, choose a bed time that will allow you to get at least six hours of sleep before you need to wake up for work or class and stick with that. Invest in an alarm clock if you need help getting up at first. 

The key point to note with syncing your body’s sleep cycle is to stay consistent. It can be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, but don’t do it. When your weekend/weekday sleep schedules differ, you can get that jet lag feeling and/or need to take a nap later in the day.

Tip 2: If you need to nap, keep it short

Speaking of naps, be smart about napping. Sleep experts recommend limiting your naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon to avoid messing up your sleep rhythm. If the “itis” hits you after a heavy meal, try to fight it by getting up and doing something active like washing the dishes or talking to a friend on the phone. Giving into the sleepiness will impact your sleep later in the night. 

Tip 3: Be mindful of excess light exposure

During the day, get as much sunlight as you can in the morning (have coffee outside, go for a walk, look out a window, etc.). The light can help wake your body up. At night, when you’re getting ready for bed, avoid any bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV can confused your senses and make it harder for you to calm down. If you absolutely must look at your phone, use the “night time” feature to make it light not as harsh.

When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Using an eye mask can also help to block out unwanted light that may come in.

Tip 4: Invest in a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets can help you fall and stay asleep throughout the night. Also known as gravity blankets, these blankets are stuffed with polyfill and glass beads to produce the "grounding" effect, making them heavier than your average comforter. I’ve been using the new cooling and sleep-inducing version of the classic Hush Blanket (now available for pre-order) and can honestly say that I’ve had “grade-A” sleep. I stay asleep in entire night and walk up relax and rested. 

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The Hush Iced Blanket, as it's known, is available in twin ($199), queen ($219), and king ($239) sizes—the first two are available in 15, 20, and 25 pounds, while the largest can be ordered in 20 and 25 pounds. Because it's meant to cool you while also giving you the sensation of being hugged, the blanket cover is made from a blend of sweat-wicking bamboo and soft cotton while the inner blanket—the weighted portion—is made of a microfiber material and non-toxic glass sand (the weight).

If you’re a sweaty sleeper or get hot easily, this works well to not only combat stress and anxiety, but also keep you comfortable. 

Tip 5: Workout in the daytime

People who exercise regularly sleep better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. The more vigorously you exercise, the more powerful the sleep benefits. 

Try to finish moderate to vigorous workouts at least three hours before bedtime. If you’re still experiencing sleep difficulties, move your workouts even earlier. Relaxing, low-impact exercises such as yoga or gentle stretching in the evening can help promote sleep.

Tip 6: Avoid sugar and caffeine before bed 

Your daytime eating habits play a role in how well you sleep, especially in the hours before bedtime. Try to avoid eating after 8pm, alcohol and caffeine before bed. Instead opt for a glass of water or non-caffeinated herbal tea.

Tip 7: Use a sleep aid

Taking a sleep aid can help you fall and stay asleep. I like using these from time to time, but I try to do it daily. My favorites are good old melatonin and the OLLY Sleep Vitamins.