When you wake up with a smile on your face, feeling ready to take on anything that comes your way, you have probably had a great night’s rest. Notice I didn’t say a “decent” night’s rest. The difference between decent and great is that, for most of us, we all get a “decent” amount of sleep, and experience “decent” results because of it. Unfortunately, “decent” isn’t going to help you very much.
Allowing your body to get ample sleep every night can improve your brain functionality, mental clarity, and even boost your body’s immunity to infections. Diminishing that amount of sleep, however, can do more than just put you in a bad mood or make you groggy. A resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School says, “Sleeping fewer than about eight hours per night on a regular basis seems to increase the risk of developing a number of medical conditions.” It goes on to say, “Reducing sleep by just two or three hours per night can have dramatic health consequences. Major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur almost exclusively during sleep.”
Getting enough sleep is vital for a healthy life, and a healthy outlook, so how do we increase the amount of sleep we get each night? Below, you will find 6 habits to enhance the quality of your sleep, and your life.
1. Keep A Notepad By Your Bed
When we lay down at night, that is when our brain decides to bombard us with thoughts. The moment we close out eyes and try to think of nothing, our mind is flooded with things we must do tomorrow, or it starts replaying the events of today. What should we have done differently? What still needs to be done? Keeping a notepad by your bed can help you to release all of those thoughts and silence your mind, which in turn helps you to get a more peaceful rest.
When you are trying to fall asleep and something pops in your head that you need to do tomorrow, write it down, then let it go. There is no need to spend any more time thinking about that thing because it has been noted and will be taken care of- after you sleep. Allow your body to peacefully enjoy the time you have designated for your rest, without worry or stress.
2. Avoid Certain Foods And Beverages
Sometimes, a late-night coffee or dessert sounds tempting, but it can be detrimental to getting a good night’s rest. Chocolate, caffeine, sugary-foods, alcohol, and even spicy foods can cause you to experience restless sleep.
If you’re feeling snack-ish at night, try having these instead:
Warm Water with Lemon
Granola or Low-Sugar Cereal with Milk
3. Give Your Body Time To Relax
We schedule our daily lives to the extreme; we even schedule our sleep. Rather than going directly from one thing to the next, give your body proper time to relax- *then* go to sleep.
Giving ourselves a chance to wind-down, means our body can start to relax and gently shift our minds into a calmer state of being. Try taking a warm bath before bed, or reading a book by your favourite author. If you’re going to schedule yourself time to sleep, you need to schedule your time to relax as well; it’s just as important.
Breathing is an oftentimes over-looked part of life, but we wouldn’t be here without it. How we breathe during the day affects our mental state, our emotions, and even our body’s natural response systems. How we breathe at night affects our quality of sleep.
If you find yourself laying in bed trying to fall asleep without success, monitor your breathing. Take notice of when you exhale, when you inhale, and how short the breaths are. Then, start with deep breaths. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and release for a count of four. Doing this repeatedly will increase the oxygen in your body, immediately reduce anxiety and stress, and contribute immensely to getting a great night’s rest.
5. Change How You Talk To Yourself About Sleep
I’ve said it countless times before, and I know you have too. “If I go to sleep now, I still won’t get enough rest.” Or, ” I’m never going to feel well-rested if I only get 5 hours.” Speaking to ourselves in this way is negative-talk and it doesn’t benefit you at all. As we all know, your words can literally change your brain.
Instead of telling yourself those negative things, change your words to something more positive, like “I am going to get plenty of rest tonight,” or “I will wake up feeling great.” Positive affirmations are surprisingly effective. Try it and see for yourself.
6. Turn Your Alarm Clock Around
You’ve set your alarm, now let it be. There is no need to stress over what time it is and how many hours you have left to sleep. Waking up in the middle of the night and seeing what time it is sends the brain in motion. Automatically, you recognize if it’s early or late and based on that, the wheels of the brain start turning.
Turn your alarm clock around and if you happen to wake up during your slumber, there will be nothing for you to start worrying about.
7. Sleep Naked
No, really, try sleeping naked. I’ve written about the health benefits of ditching the PJ’s, and achieving a more restful sleep was one of them.
Sleeping in pajamas, or being wrapped-up in a blanket causes our body to overheat. This actually prevents our body from reaching the optimal temperature for deep sleep to occur. Keep your body cooler, and you will sleep better.
Changing bad habits into good ones takes time, and no one expects you to master the art of achieving great sleep overnight. Practice implementing these habits into your life and watch your quality of rest gradually improve. Remember, when the quality of your sleep improves, the quality of your life improves.