Sleep is important. In fact, it’s so important that it can negatively affect everything about your health if you routinely don’t get enough. So here are a few things you can do to help you get some quality z’s on a nightly basis.
Your body has an internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Many functions in your body that occur on a daily basis, such as the release or suppression of certain hormones, are regulated by this circadian rhythm. These hormones play a huge role in determining how awake or sleepy you feel. And we’ll give you one guess as to what one external factor plays a huge role in keeping this internal clock of yours running smoothly.
Exposure to sunlight on a daily basis is vital for the release of hormones that make you feel alert, but it also sets the stage for the proper release of sleep inducing hormones later on in the evening. Keeping yourself cooped up in your house of office under the fluorescent lights we’ve all grown accustomed to just isn’t the same.
Aim to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight exposure per day, ideally between the hours of 6:00am and 8:30am.
Curb the caffeine.
Who doesn’t love a cup of coffee? I mean, seriously, let’s be real here for a second. Coffee is consumed by a ton of people on a daily basis and is by far one of the most popular drinks worldwide. So why are we telling you to limit your consumption?
Well, coffee, as well as energy drinks, contain caffeine which is a stimulant of your nervous system. Ingesting caffeine makes you feel alert, perky, happy, jazzed up, and ready to go. It’s great!
But what’s not great is the half life of that caffeine. This means that even hours after consuming caffeine, half of it can still be swimming around in your system, affecting your nervous system, decreasing your ability to relax or feel sleepy. This can happen for up to 8 hours of you drinking caffeine!
So set a strict cutoff for your caffeine consumption. 2pm tends to work best for most folks, but, seeing as how you’re a unique snowflake of a person, your cutoff time might be different.
Keep it cool.
Have you ever tried to fall asleep on a hot summer’s night when your A/C wasn’t working? It’s damn near impossible! And that’s because your body loves cooler temperatures when trying to fall asleep.
Generally, when your room is kept above 72 degrees, you’re going to struggle when you try to drift off to La-La-Land. Try to keep your room between 65-72 degrees for optimal sleeping conditions. Obviously, the exact temperature depends on the preference of the individual, so take those numbers with a grain of salt.
Two ‘hacks’ you can try to cool off more efficiently at night are to first take a nice hot shower. When you step out of the shower, the room temperature will feel ice cold, instantly dropping your body temperature. Plus, the hot shower, will do a nice job of relaxing you in general.
Secondly, and this one sounds weird, but try wearing socks and gloves to bed. The gloves and socks will keep your extremities nice and warm, which will help draw blood away from your torso, thus cooling you off.
PUT. YOUR. DAMN. PHONE. DOWN.
Remember a few paragraphs ago when you read that sunlight can affect your ability to feel awake or sleepy? Well, your phone is no different. The blue light emitted from your phone (or laptop, TV, tablet, etc) will signal to your brain that it’s still daylight, meaning your brain will try it’s best to stay awake.
Staying awake when it’s light out is normal. Back in the day this was our window to hunt, gather, move, and do the necessary things to stay alive. But we also didn’t have artificial light in the form of light bulbs, phones, and TV’s to emulate sunlight when it was supposed to be dark. Once the sun went down, we slept.
By constantly ‘tricking’ your brain into thinking it’s daylight by staring at your phone into the wee hours of the night, you’re robbing yourself of a good night’s sleep. Your poor brain is trying so hard to keep you awake so you can hunt, gather, and survive.
Except you’re not doing any of those things. You’re watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
Turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed, and even better, try to dim the lights in your house to create the mood for sleep. Dim lights will help stimulate the release of sleep inducing hormones… win-win.
Start implementing these tips and we bet there’s a good chance you’ll start sleeping better!