A good night’s sleep is vital for maintaining both your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation or not getting enough quality sleep can weaken your immune system, cause changes in mood and behavior, and even lead to weight gain.
Fortunately, creating a healthy sleep routine can promote the ideal sleep you strive for—the kind that leaves you feeling energized and refreshed in the morning. The New Year is the perfect time to develop healthy sleep habits.
Consequences of Lack of Sleep
According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, sleep (or lack thereof) can influence all of your other daily health habits, such as what you eat and your activity levels. Without adequate sleep, you may notice a spike in appetite since your hormones can’t properly regulate themselves. You may also be more prone to bodily aches and pains, which can limit your ability to work out.
Moreover, when sleep is disrupted, many brain functions, including memory and emotion regulation, are affected. According to a Harvard Mental Health Letter, disrupted sleep affects the hormones that influence brain health. Insomnia is one example of a sleep disturbance that influences brain health, which may put sufferers at risk for developing an anxiety disorder or major depression.
Whether you suffer from insomnia, aren’t getting enough quality sleep, or simply want to spruce up your nighttime routine, there are numerous ways to set yourself up for a more restful night’s sleep and productive tomorrow. And what better time to develop these habits than at the start of a new year!
The following are eight suggestions to get you started. Incorporate all of them into your nightly routine, or start with one or two. Experiment to find what works best for you.
1. Eat Sleep-Promoting Foods
Eating a large meal before bedtime, especially one that includes sugary or high-fat foods, can disrupt sleep. Keep dinner healthy and light, including foods such as whole grains, cherries, walnuts, and kiwis, all of which naturally promote sleep. Although the specifics of how these foods promote sleep is not completely understood, they include nutrients (e.g., calcium, potassium, and magnesium) that have been shown to improve sleep.
Prior to sleep, skip foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate, soda, and coffee, as well as alcohol. Aim to eat dinner two to three hours before sleep to allow time to digest.
2. Maintain a Set Sleep Schedule
A healthy sleep routine includes about prior to sleep itself. You may find you need less or more time to gear down—the time period directly before sleep occurs when you’re in your bedroom, you’ve turned off your electronics, noises and lights are low, and stimulation is minimal.
Try to gear down at about the same time each night in addition to having a set time when you start falling asleep. Set your alarm to wake up at about the same time each morning. Remember, your body can’t tell the difference between a Saturday and a Monday morning so try to stick with your sleep schedule on the weekends. Your body will thank you for it!
3. Aim for 7–8 Hours of Sleep Per Night
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends adults (26–64 years) get seven to nine hours of sleep per night but also acknowledge that some people may only require six while others will need as much as ten.
While individuals differ in how much sleep their bodies need, the NSF does not recommend getting fewer than six hours or more than 10 hours of sleep in one night. These recommendations hold true for weekends and even the occasional late night out.
4. Rethink Your Mattress
Your mattress may play a larger role in your sleep quality than you realize. found that participants who replaced their old bedding system with a new one increased their sleep quality and had reduced back discomfort. An older mattress may not only be worn out but can also collect dust and other allergens.
Consider purchasing a hypoallergenic mattress, pillows, and sheets, especially if you suffer from allergies. In addition, those who suffer from chronic pain may want to choose a mattress designed to treat bodily aches and pain. Purple—a company that sells non-toxic mattresses, bedding, and other products to promote restful sleep—uses cushioning technology to support your body’s natural, healthy shape, cradle your pressure points, and help regulate body temperature so you stay cool.
5. Keep Technological Devices Out of the Bedroom
Having your phone or tablet on the nightstand next to your bed can be too tempting. By keeping your devices in a separate room, you’re not only signaling to your brain that it’s time to start relaxing, you’re also limiting the number of distractions that can leave you tossing and turning.
Furthermore, the blue light emitted from screens can actually suppress melatonin, a hormone that signals your body when it’s time to sleep and wake up. (Note: Light of any kind can interfere with melatonin so try to keep your room as dark as possible).
If you’re guilty of falling asleep with your phone on your pillow, you aren’t alone. A 2011 survey conducted by the NSF revealed that nine out of ten Americans used a technological device (such as a cellphone or TV) within an hour before bedtime. They also found that interactive devices (such as cellphones and laptops) were the most disruptive to attempts to sleep.
6. Find What Relaxes You
Think of activities that you find both enjoyable and relaxing as part of your pre-sleep routine. Here are a few suggestions:
- Read a good book.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Practice breathing exercises.
- Practice light yoga or gentle stretching.
- Draw a warm bath.
- Consider lighting a candle or purchasing an essential oil diffuser. Scents such as lavender and ylang ylang can be particularly calming. A white-noise machine may also be helpful.
7. Try a Calming Supplement or Herb
Many supplements can help to promote sleep, such as:
- Melatonin: Your body produces melatonin on its own, but a supplement can help you to make the most of the natural hormone, according to an article by Johns Hopkins Medicine.
- L-theanine: An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine may improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
- GABA: A neurotransmitter that can promote sleep, GABA can promote restful sleep when taken before bed.
Remember to consult your doctor before taking any supplements. A healthcare professional can tell you which supplements could be most helpful and the proper dosage.
Herbs such as chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm have also been shown to calm the nervous system and ease anxiety. Tea is a simple and effective way to consume them. For an extra dose of relaxation, add a teaspoon of magnesium powder, which has been shown to help with sleep in elderly people. Again, consult a doctor before adding magnesium powder to your nighttime regimen, especially if you’re taking other medications.
8. Don’t Force Sleep
If you’re having difficulty falling asleep or wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, refrain from looking at the time. Worrying about sleep, unsurprisingly, won’t help you to achieve it any faster.
According to the NSF, if you can’t fall asleep after about 20 minutes, do a relaxing activity outside of your bedroom, such as reading or meditating. Avoid bright lights, technology, and anything productive. (This isn’t the time to check things off of your to-do list). Engaging in a relaxing activity and then returning to bed is more likely to promote restful sleep than lying there trying to force it.
By adopting a healthy sleep routine, as opposed to staying up late returning work emails or flipping through TV channels, you’re more likely to give your body the sleep it needs to recharge. A well-rested body and mind can have a significant effect on your relationships, physical health, and all other areas of your daily life.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions, healthier sleep will help you get there. When you get restful, healthy sleep, you wake energized and ready to make 2019 your best year yet. Pair that with the comfiest, most supportive mattress science can dream up, and restful sleep is right around the corner. Buy any Purple® Mattress today and get a free Purple product of your choice. Order Today.