A Better Night’s Sleep: Practice Makes Perfect

Irregular bedtimes makes you cranky.

I found this article that talked about how irregular bedtimes have been shown to lead to poor behavior,
slower development, lower test scores, and health problems in kids. So, having a routine leads to a better night’s sleep. Even being off by as little as one hour from night to night can wreak havoc. In fact, this study showed that adults that vary their sleep habits from night to night had a 23-27% likelihood of metabolic syndrome for every hour increase! Go to bed at 10 pm one night and 1 am the next? You’ve just increased your risk.

Having a hard time losing weight? Check your sleep habits. Feeling jet lagged but haven’t been anywhere? Check your sleep. Irritable, cranky, and ready to throw a tantrum? You guessed it… check your sleep. Poor sleep habits can cause myriad of health issues – physically and mentally. So what do you do to get that better night’s sleep?

As always, here are some tips to get you in the habit of a good night’s sleep.

Get Into a Routine:

When you were little, did you have a bedtime routine that looked something like this: eat dinner, take a bath, put on your jammies, brush your teeth, go to bed? As a parent, there’s a reason for that routine – it sends the message that it’s time to wind down and end the day. Having this routine is soothing for kids and if you try this as an adult, I bet you’ll find the routine calming too!

Back Track:

Start by figuring out what time you should get up every morning and then back track to 9-10 hours prior to that. You’ll need 8 hours for sleep and a minimum of 1 hour prior to get into your routine.

My favorite color is blue… no red… ahhh:

That was for you Monty Python fans. 😉 Blue lights from electronics such as your phone, laptop, computer, or
TV screen and even some lightbulbs are known sleep disrupters. Avoiding blue light for as long as possible before heading to bed may improve your sleep. The Harvard study recommends 2-3 hours! Need a nightlight? Make it a red one as that color of light has the least disruption on circadian rhythms.

Expose Yourself:

Let me clarify {{clears throat}}- to as much natural light during the day as possible. This can significantly improve your ability to sleep at night and it helps keep you juiced during the day. If you live in the north where winters are long and the days are darker, blue light therapy is a thing and it really does work. While not as inexpensive as a night light, if you think you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the benefits may be well worth the price tag.

Step Away From the Caffeine:

Caffeine has a half life of about 5 hours which means it can still impact your sleep up to 10 hours after your last cup o’ joe. If you’re finding your sleep isn’t what you want it to be, try cutting your caffeine intake off at lunch time to give your body ample time to process it… Even if you’re a naysayer who thinks caffeine doesn’t impact you that way, give it a shot and see how you fare.

Check the Alcohol:

While a little alcohol may help you fall asleep, too much can actually interrupt sleep as your body begins to metabolize it. Try nursing your glass of wine at dinner and see if that improves your zzzz’s.

better night's sleep

Purge Your Thoughts:

One of the biggest reasons I hear clients tell me is that they have such a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep because they have too much on their minds. They’re conjuring up their to-do list for the next day or week and can’t get their wheels to stop spinning. If this sounds like you, grab a notebook and something to write with and purge all those thoughts down on paper. Once the thoughts are written down, your brain knows it can relax because it doesn’t have to worry about holding onto those thoughts anymore. And a relaxed brain is a happy, wants to sleep brain.

And if you try all of the above and you’re still having difficulty sleeping, talk to your primary care doctor. He or she should be able to guide you in next steps to figure out what’s going on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.