Now that September is here and summer is coming to an end, it’s time to get back into a routine. Having a consistent sleeping schedule is important for numerous reasons, one being to get you back in gear, and tackle the rest of the month of September!
Here are some tips to help you get your sleeping schedule back on track:
1. Practice relaxation before bed – Methods of relaxation may include: meditation, deep breathing, journaling, taking a hot shower or bath, reading (bonus if its a boring book, because you’ll be able to fall asleep in no time!), yoga, stretching, or drinking a hot caffeine-free beverage. All of these tasks will help you to relax and clear your head before bed, often making it easier to fall asleep. Practicing the same relaxation technique, consistently is best so your body recognizes when it is time to wind down.
2. Reduce, or completely avoid blue light exposure 2 hours prior to bed… Put your phone away! – Your bodies natural clock, known as your circadian rhythm is greatly impacted by light. Your circadian rhythm affects your brain, body, and hormones, enabling your body to recognize the appropriate times to stay awake, and fall asleep. Exposure to light throughout the day has been researched to improve both sleep quality and duration. During light exposure your body slows the production of hormones such as melatonin – this hormone enables you to relax, promoting sleep. Thus, daytime light exposure limits the feelings of fatigue and drowsiness. Exposure to light at nighttime has the opposite effect. Exposure to light at night tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime, thereby reducing the production of melatonin, thus delaying the time it takes you to fall asleep. Therefore, limiting your exposure to light, in particular blue light that is emitted from your phone about two hours prior to bed will help you fall asleep, faster.
3. Maintain a consistent sleeping schedule – Again, your bodies circadian rhythm functions on a consistent cycle – your body is able to naturally orient its sleeping schedule with sunrise and sunset. Having a consistent sleep/ wake cycle is vital to both short and long-term sleep duration and quality. Inconsistent sleep/ wake cycles facilitate irregular sleeping patterns and poor sleep quality, and have potential to negatively alter your bodies circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin. Waking up and going to bed at similar times will not only allow for a deeper and more restful sleep, it will also benefit your sleeping patterns long term.
4. Exercise Regularly – but not before bed 🙂 – Not only is exercise beneficial for your health, it also improves your sleep quality and duration! Exercising promotes melatonin production, reduces stress, tires out your body, and positively impacts your bodies circadian rhythm – all of these help to improve both sleep quality and duration. However, exercising within 2 hours prior to bed will have the opposite effect. Exercising increases hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine – these hormones increase one’s alertness and stimulate the body, keeping you awake. To reap the potential benefits exercise has for your sleeping patterns and duration, keep your exercise regime to at least 2 hours prior to your bedtime.
5. Lavender! (Oil, mist, diffuser, incense) – Lavender has been extensively studied to have a calming effect on individuals. Lavender lowers blood pressure, and decreases heart rate – allowing individuals to reach a more relaxed state. For these reasons, lavender enables you to not only fall asleep faster, but also into a deeper sleep. I find lavender to be the most useful method for me when I have trouble falling asleep. Every night before bed, I apply a lavender roller, topically to my wrists and temples or mist my pillow with a lavender spray. I also like putting lavender essential oils into my diffuser or lighting lavender scented incense a couple hours before I go to bed. This way, when I am ready for bed, my bedroom is filled with the lavender scent!
6. Make your sleeping space a comfortable environment – Making sure your room is a relaxing, clean, and comfortable space is necessary for a good nights rest. This may mean adding additional pillows, plants, artwork, or candles to your bedroom to allow it to become a more welcoming and inviting space, in which you enjoy spending time. Keeping your professional and/ or school work and work desk outside of your room to avoid added stress, decluttering and keeping your room clean so it does not make you feel overwhelmed, or having your room at a consistent temperate, light, or volume can also help to make your bedroom a more comfortable and relaxing space. Removing these and various other distractions that may cause added stress, and ensuring your room is a relaxing, comfortable, and enjoyable space will all benefit to help you get a good nights sleep.
7. Consider a Melatonin supplement- Melatonin supplements will also help you to get your sleeping schedule back on track. As discussed, melatonin is a hormone that is produced within your body to help regulate your sleep cycle. Melatonins main job is to naturally regulate ones sleep-wake cycle. Taking a melatonin supplement increases the amounts in your body, thus it is often used as a sleep aid. Prior to regularly taking a melatonin supplement, consult a health professional regarding dosage, side effects, uses, and drug interactions. Taking a melatonin supplement too often can impact the amount of melatonin that your body naturally produces, and negatively impact your circadian rhythm. I often use a melatonin supplement as my last option if I’m having trouble falling asleep.
If none of these tips seem to work, sometimes a glass of wine before bed can help too. 😉
Happy Sleeping! I hope you have a restful week!