THREE HABITS THAT CAN IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
If you are reading this post, the chance is high that you want to improve your sleep: you want to fall asleep easier and have an uninterrupted good night’s sleep.
Sleep is as essential as food or water. And in the previous blog post, I talked about the importance of good sleep and how you could assess your sleep quality. So we learned the WHY of sleeping well. But today I would like to focus on the HOW – how you can improve your sleep quality.
As sleep is a complex process (and we’ll talk about it in the next blog post), there are so many factors to consider when talking about what you can do to improve your sleep. However, I want to write about three crucial habits that are probably responsible for 80% of improving your sleep. Read further on how to have a significant impact on your rest.
Habit #1: Disconnect from electronic devices
Disconnecting from electronic devices might be a challenging one for many, but oh so essential!
First of all, your devices such as cell phones or laptops release blue light. The blue light messes with your body’s ability to prepare for sleep because it blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy.
Secondly, if you watch TV or news or be active on social media, read news sites, or check your work e-mail before bedtime, your mind remains busy or even stressed, which doesn’t help you sleep.
It is highly recommended to stop using any electronic devices at least 30 – 60 min before bedtime and surely don’t do it in your bed! If it’s difficult for you to stick to this rule initially, start with at least 15 minutes.
Here are some tips to gradually reduce usage:
- Sometimes willpower doesn’t work, and we need a different approach—for example, a bit of external pressure. So try using a mobile application to block your phone for a certain timespan, maybe until the next morning even! These apps will allow you to use your phone for emergency calls still but will stop any other functions. From my own experience with Android, StayFocused, and DigitalDetox are great. For iOS, Moment or Flipd look like good options.
- If you have a habit of using your mobile device while in bed or charging phones on the bedside table, try to leave it away from your reach, maybe even in another room to avoid temptation.
- Try reading an easy book instead of using your phone when in bed. Reading a novel is much more relaxing and calming for your mind. Before you know it, you get sleepy after 2 pages.
Habit #2: Reduce caffeine
I’m sure that you know about the effects of caffeine and that it can disrupt your sleep. But why and how?
Next to the melatonin hormone, the chemical called adenosine is responsible for making you sleepy. As it accumulates throughout the day, you get more tired. Adenosine is created in the brain, and it binds to adenosine receptors of nerve cells. As a result, brain activity slows down, and we become sleepy.
Did you know that molecules of caffeine and adenosine are very similar? To a nerve cell, caffeine looks like adenosine. Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor. However, caffeine doesn’t slow down the cell’s activity as adenosine would. As a result, the cell can no longer identify adenosine because caffeine takes up all the receptors. Caffeine invades into adenosine’s home! Instead of slowing down because of the adenosine’s effect, the nerve cells speed up. That’s why you feel the boost after drinking coffee!
Now you won’t be surprised if you can’t sleep after having 3 cups of coffee a day or having an espresso during your dinner.
Reducing caffeine is crucial for having a healthy sleep. It doesn’t mean you have to give up drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks (think Coca Cola or energy drinks). You need to drink it smartly and reduce your consumption.
A golden rule for healthy use of coffee is to not drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks after 3 PM and less than 2 cups a day.
Habit #3: Slow down
When it is time to sleep, your mind is probably still full of all the day’s mental input, or you might even feel stressed, and your body is not quite ready to sleep. The levels of adrenaline and stress hormone cortisol are high, and they block your ability to sleep.
That is why the relaxation hour is one of the foundations to create good sleeping habits. It is simple: take time to relax and slow down 1 hour before sleeping.
So what do you do in those 60 minutes?
- Spend the first 20 minutes to finish the small tasks that give you immediate mental pressure. Finish hanging tasks: do the dishes, prepare your kids lunch, write down a to-do list for tomorrow. And don’t shy away from delegating some of the jobs to others who live in your household!
- Secondly, follow your hygiene routine, which can already be very relaxing on its own. Take a shower (or a bath!), brush your teeth, and do everything that makes you ready for bed.
- Third, truly relax for the last 20 minutes. You can do slow yoga, meditate, read an easy book, listen to a relaxing playlist.
How do I get there?
One of the most effective ways to improve your sleep is changing your habits before going to sleep. Yet, this is not easy. When it comes to sleep, the change won’t happen overnight. It is essential to be consistent with implementing new patterns.
It takes time for your mind and body to get used to these changes. To make these changes long-lasting, they should also fit your life. Try experimenting at the beginning with what works best for you. For some people who need to work late nights or shifts, the schedule might differ from people with 9 to 5 jobs or people with small children.
Do you want to improve your sleep in just 3 nights?
If you want to improve your sleep, download this guide Getting a Good Night Sleep in 3 Nights.
You will learn what’s the #1 reason you don’t sleep well is and how to solve it with 3 proven practices.