The factors that determine how well you sleep at night begin long before you crawl into bed. These same factors that determine your quality of sleep also determine how easily you will fall asleep, and everyone knows how important it is to get a full night’s rest.
There are several reasons why you may have trouble falling asleep at night, ranging from stress, anxiety, aches, pains, and so on. For certain individuals, sleeping disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, can make it significantly more difficult to get a restful night of sleep. Because of this, it is important to make sure you find a good nighttime schedule that works for you.
Having a Nighttime Schedule
A good nighttime schedule should become a habitual routine that you repeat every night before bed to help your body recognize when it is time to unwind. This routine should consist of different activities that help you to relax and clear your mind.
Try and reserve the last hour of the day that you are awake to your nighttime schedule so that you have plenty of time to relax and unwind. It can be difficult at times with how busy life can be but is a very important step for creating a good bedtime routine.
Do your best to avoid stress during this hour of relaxation. Instead, try and unwind with one of the following activities explained below.
Do Meditation or Yoga
Meditation and yoga are two natural ways to help your body feel relaxed and have been proven to relieve stress. Having a clear mind with a relaxed body before bed is the perfect formula for falling asleep.
Most exercises, whether physical or mental, will release natural hormones in your body called endorphins. The release of endorphins is what gives you that “feel good” energy that helps you relieve stress.
When you are under a lot of stress it creates tension in your muscles, especially in the neck and back areas, that can leave you with aches, soreness, and even a headache. When you stretch your muscles, you help release the tension and relax that area of your body. Because of this, both meditation and yoga are great ways to unwind before bed.
Read a Book
There is contradicting information on the internet about whether reading before bed helps you fall asleep or keeps you awake, but most of the time it can be an effective way to calm down your mind.
Many people enjoy reading a chapter from their favorite book, or even an article from a magazine before heading to bed. But is important to try and prevent yourself from reading in bed as it may be linked to sleeping troubles. This is because you will begin to associate reading with your bed, rather than associating sleeping with your bed.
It is best to create a nightly routine and avoid certain activities in bed, such as watching TV or playing on your phone, again due to associated your bed with these activities. Instead, try reading in your living room until you are ready for bed. You will know your mind is ready for rest when you begin to read sentences over and over again and have trouble comprehending it.
Listen to Relaxing Music
Everyone prefers to listen to different genres of music, so the kind of music that relaxes you is going to be different from most other people. Classical music is a popular option for many people due to its homophonic melody that consists of a single melody between all the instruments, creating a soothing tune that is easy to listen to.
It is also common for many people to listen to CD’s that play natural sounds such as waves crashing on a beach, rain falling in the forest, and even thunderstorms.
The goal is to find a sound or rhythm that puts your mind at ease. Try not to play any songs or sounds that you get pumped up or feeling ready to go do something.
Take a Warm Bath or Shower
Your body temperature plays a big role in not only how fast you fall asleep, but the quality of sleep you get as well. Studies show that taking a warm bath or shower can be a good way to help you fall asleep.
When you are about to fall asleep, your core body temperature begins to decrease while the temperature of your hands and feet increases. When you climb into bed after taking a warm bath or shower, you will be replicating this process which can help trigger your ability to fall asleep in your brain.
Just remember that the bath or shower should be warm and not steaming hot. This will increase your blood pressure and heart rate, making it even harder to fall and stay asleep.
Exercise In the Morning
But wait, aren’t these methods all supposed to be carried out directly before bed? Most of them, yes. However, exercise is one of the exceptions.
The best time to get your workout in is actually first thing in the morning after you wake up. This will give your muscles time to relax before going to bed. It will also help burn energy that you may not have burned throughout the day, helping you feel more fatigued and ready for bed at the end of the night.
Along with exhausting your stored-up energy, exercising is a great way to reduce stress which will improve your quality of sleep. This has been particularly helpful for people who struggle with insomnia.
Try Sleep-Enhancing Supplements
As mentioned before, people who struggle with a sleeping disorder can have a difficult time getting and staying asleep. Because of this, it is okay to try and remedy the problem with sleeping supplements under the advisory of your doctor.
One of the most common sleep enhancers that people take is melatonin. Melatonin is a sleeping hormone that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Your body produces it naturally, but complications can result in lower production. As a supplement, melatonin is effective as a short-term treatment because it will add to your levels of melatonin and help you feel sleepy.
Many people also have found natural oils such as lavender and CBD oil to be effective for falling asleep. Oil diffusers have been a big trend as well because they allow you to disperse the oil into the air, allowing it to fill your bedroom.
Things You Should Avoid Directly Before Bed
While these methods listed above may help you fall asleep, there are certain things that you should always avoid before bed. Some of them include, but are not limited to:
- Consuming foods or beverages with high sugar and/or carb contents.
- Vigorous exercise
- Scrolling on your phone
- Watching TV
All of these things listed above will negatively affect your quality of sleep in a different way, so be sure to steer clear of them.
It is important to have a nighttime routine that involves activities that help you unwind before bed. While different methods will work for different people, there are hundreds of ways to practice relaxation.
If you have a consistent nighttime routine in which you relax and unwind but still find difficulty falling asleep, the problem may be with your mattress or pillow. Always make sure that your bed compliments your body type and sleeping style to ensure a full night of quality sleep.
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