According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and other researchers, 7-8 hours of sleep per day is necessary for adults to maintain their physical and mental health. Studies show that sleep deprivation is one of the prominent reasons for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and weakened immunity.
One study found that not only the duration of sleep but also the quality of that sleep is important for overall health. Those who slept for an average of 7 hours, tended to have a more quality sleep. That said, sleeping at least 7 hours doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting a good quality rest, which is why both quality and quantity are important to consider when we're thinking about our own sleep habits.
Sleeping isn’t an easy job even though it’s something we’ve done every day since we were born. We spend almost one third of our lives asleep, and yet we still haven’t mastered the art. At Meditopia, we know that sleeping can be difficult and that some nights we may need help falling asleep. There are a few sleep hacks that can help you transition into sleep, while also improving your sleep quality. Everyone’s sleeping habits are different, so it’s best for you to try several different hacks to see which ones work for you.
Let’s take a journey throughout an average day together and see if there’s something that will help you sleep easier.
You’ve had breakfast and started your daily schedule. Maybe it’s work, school, running errands, or spending the day at home. You can adapt the script to fit your day.
- Coffee and Sleep
If you’re a coffee person and are having difficulty falling asleep, you may have been drinking too much caffeine during the day. Try not to drink more than 2 cups, especially later in the day. Try drinking water instead, getting some fresh air, or doing some stretches rather than refilling your coffee cup. Caffeine can disrupt your sleep cycle, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Alcohol and Sleep
Your work for the day is done and you’re wanting to relax and enjoy the evening. Maybe you want a glass of wine or a beer to unwind. It can seem like a good idea at first, but like caffeine, alcohol isn’t always the best thing for a healthy sleep cycle. Alcohol and sleep are not the best of friends. Although it might be easier to fall asleep when you consume alcohol, both your sleep quality and quantity can be negatively affected by drinking.
- Blue Light and Sleep
Many of us want to watch something or spend some time on social media on an average evening. However, research shows that devices that emit blue light aren’t good for our eyes or our sleep. A study found that individuals who use blue light filtering lenses compared to regular lenses two hours before sleep show fewer symptoms of insomnia and have better sleep quality.
In light of these findings, it’s best for you not to look at your phone, computer, or television at least one hour before bed. Instead, you can try listening to the radio, or a podcast, or a sleep story.
There are lots of alternatives, but if you need to use screens, it’s best to turn on the night screen mode in order to help filter the blue light.
- Sleep Environment
Technological devices are also bridges to the external world and carry lots of stimuli, some of which can make us anxious. It’s better to limit those stimuli as it gets closer to bedtime. Your mind needs to relax and rest after a long day. Try dimming the lights or putting on a chill melody in the background. Offer yourself some peaceful time to be present with yourself. You can also read a book while sipping chamomile tea or warm milk, which can help you relax even more.
Your mind is rested and running at a slower pace now, but you can’t help but think about your responsibilities and to-do lists or maybe you're feeling excited or anxious. In those moments, you can level up your falling asleep game.
Try these steps to help you relax even more:
- Sleep Hygiene
- Take a warm shower, allowing your body to release the tension with the help of some hot water.
- Change your sheets and pajamas. Clean fabric with a soft smell can help create a good environment for a restful sleep.
- Put a few drops of soothing and relaxing lavender oil on your pillow. You can massage your head, neck, hands, or shoulders with lavender oil as well, letting the smell calm you down.
- Open your window for a little while to allow fresh air to circulate into your room.
- Ease Your Mind Into Sleep
Now that you feel clean, calm, and rested, you may notice that your mind is wandering among thoughts, plans, hypothetical arguments, and so on. You’re not alone, as that’s something many of us experience. Here’s the last step to get a good night's sleep.
Invite sleep with these tips:
- You might try some low-impact stretching to relax. Our bodies and minds are interconnected, which is why moving your body if you feel tired or anxious can be helpful. You can try moving your head gently side to side, rolling your shoulders while taking deep breaths, and stretching your hamstrings and hips by reaching for your toes in bed.
- Try breathing exercises. Breathing connects your body and mind, helping you to stay present. With each breath, let go of intrusive thoughts and allow your body to get heavier on your bed.
- Meditate. There are lots of sleep meditations to guide you on your way to a peaceful, rest-filled sleep.
- Listen to calming music or sleep stories on the app.
Sleeping is essential to our daily routines, so it’s really important to stick to those hacks and repeat them everyday if possible. If you try all of those and still have difficulty falling asleep, be patient with yourself. Change doesn't happen overnight. Continue to invest in yourself each day, being mindful of your feelings and habits on your journey toward a better sleep. Last but not least, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help for your sleep struggles. You can visit your doctor or see a therapist about any difficulties you’re having.
May your life be full of joy, hope, and wonderful dreams. Night night!