Happy Wednesday lovely people! Today I’m sharing something a bit different with you guys but it’s something that I’m super passionate about… sleep, ha! In all seriousness, I do obsess over sleep quite a bit because fatigue and lack of energy are both by products of having Crohn’s Disease. They’re symptoms that I deal with on a daily basis, even when I’m in remission, so I truly value sleep and rest. I put a lot of thought into making sure I get enough of it but also making sure that its quality.
I know that I’m not the only person that deals with being tired and not getting enough rest, though. There just aren’t enough hours in the day and one of the first things people tend to sacrifice is their rest. On top of that, the holidays are right around the corner and the business of the holiday season is going to intervene with our sleep and rest even more. And sleep is important, people! So, today I thought I would share 8 tips for better sleep with you guys. These are tried and true tricks by your own personal sleep expert (truly, I sleep an average of 9 and a half hours each night so you can trust me on this, ha! :P) that will hopefully help you allow yourself more time for sleep and better quality sleep at that.
8 Tips for Better Sleep
Tip 1: Create a set bed time and time to wake up
This might sound simple, but the first step to better sleep starts with creating better sleep habits. Setting a bed time and sticking to it will eventually train your body to start feeling sleepy at a certain time each night. Likewise, waking up at a certain time each day will eventually help your body wake up on its own. I imagine it’s a safe assumption that there aren’t many of us who enjoy the waking up process. 😛
This can be challenging if you’re a night owl and your natural circadian rhythm doesn’t line up with your 8am office arrival, but creating a routine for sleep will actually make it easier with time. I also know it’s challenging when you don’t have a stable schedule. Up until a few months ago I had been working retail hours for the better part of 7 years. I honestly didn’t stick to a set sleep schedule most of that time but I always felt so much better during the times that I did.
Tip 2: Get regular exercise
Another important factor in creating better sleep habits is to consider your decisions throughout the day. It’s no secret that getting regular exercise is important for your health. It’s good for your physical health, your mental health, and it helps promote better sleep! Exercise helps reduce stress and that alone can help improve your sleep. It’s also been proven to help with insomnia and other sleep disorders as well as help you rest for longer periods of time.
I definitely notice that when I’m not getting enough exercise I don’t sleep or rest as well. Exercise helps release energy that will otherwise make you feel restless come bedtime.
Tip 3: Cut the caffeine intake by 2pm
I feel like this is simple step that can be easily overlooked since caffeine is often times such a pivotal part of a person’s day. There’s nothing wrong with drinking caffeine in the morning to give you a burst of energy for the day. But caffeine is literally supposed to give you energy. So if you want your body to feel calm and ready for rest at night, you have to cut the caffeine intake so that you’re not pouring more energy into your body when it needs to start winding down.
I stopped drinking caffeine about 5 years ago to help alleviate some of my Crohn’s symptoms so I know that cutting caffeine can be challenging. What worked for me was a simple weening process. For instance, if you’re the type of person who drinks caffeine right up until bed time, start by having your last caffeinated beverage at 8pm. Once you feel used to that, stop drinking it at 6pm. Just keep backing the time up as your body adjusts!
Tip 4: Don’t bring your phone to bed with you
Now let’s talk about nighttime and actually getting ready to go to sleep. I know a lot of millennials aren’t going to like this one (trust me, I feel you), but DON’T BRING YOUR PHONE TO BED WITH YOU! This is something I just started doing about 2 or 3 months ago and it’s been a game changer. I used to get in bed and “wind down” on my phone for a half hour… that turned into an hour… that turned into another half hour once the lights were off.
Having your phone in bed is like a double edged sword. It’s proven that the blue light from screens keeps your brain active and awake plus being on your phone is a super consuming black hole. You start doing something on Facebook that leads you to Google something that takes you to YouTube and it’s just a snowball effect, ya know? I’m not pointing fingers because I am a serious phone junkie, but I promise that when I stopped bringing my phone to bed, I started falling asleep more quickly (it helps a TON with sticking to your bedtime) and started sleeping better.
Tip 5: Read a book when you get in bed
If you’re like me, you’re probably not one to jump in bed and go straight to sleep. I like to get in bed and quiet my mind for a while before making the journey into slumber. That’s actually why I used to bring my phone to bed with me. It kept me entertained instead of feeling like I was just sitting awake in bed staring at the wall.
But once I stopped bringing my phone to bed, I started reading a book in bed instead. This has been great for a couple of reasons. First, I always say that I wish I spent more time reading and, well, now I do. Second, reading at night makes me feel drowsy. I know this happens to a lot of people. I’m not sure if it’s scientific, but reading when I’m cozied up under the covers makes my eyes feel heavy and ready to shut for the night.
Tip 6: Use essential oils
If you need an extra hand in feeling drowsy and ready to fall asleep, try diffusing essential oils when you get in bed. This is a trick I learned the last time I was struggling with insomnia and it helped a ton. My favorite combination is frankincense and lavender. Frankincense helps you feel relaxed and tranquil and lavender calms the mind and body. I diffuse 1 part frankincense and 2 parts lavender (roughly 2 drops of frankincense and 4 drops of lavender depending on how much water your diffuser holds). You can do more or less of each but I stick to this combo because too much frankincense gives me crazy dreams. Plus, lavender smells better anyways. 😉
Tip 7: Use a sleep mask
I don’t sleep with a sleep mask anymore, but they always came in handy during college when I had roommates that would stay up later than me. They’re also great if, for any reason, you need to sleep later into the day and don’t want to be woken up by the sun.
Tip 8: Put your alarm across the room
The last tip I’ll leave you with is actually one for helping you wake up a bit easier in the morning. Try putting your alarm across the room so that you actually have to get out of bed to turn it off. If you use your phone as an alarm, this is just another way to force you to keep your phone out of the bed. 😉 Getting out of bed will obviously speed up the waking up process and keep you from hitting snooze too many times. I’m the pot calling the kettle black here because snoozing is a huge interruption to quality sleep but I still snooze like crazy every morning. The struggles of chronic fatigue AND being a night owl that hates waking up in the morning, haha!
Well these tips must have worked for Aspen because he’s clearly sleepy and ready for bed. 😉 In all seriousness, I hope these tips will help you guys get better sleep this busy holiday season! Let me know what you thought of today’s post and if there are any other tips and tricks posts you’d like to see on the blog! Thank so much for reading and I’ll see you guys again tomorrow!