Prioritizing sleep is crucial for overall health and wellness. A lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can weaken your immune system, increase acute and chronic disease risk, interfere with physical recovery, fuel inflammation, and impair mental health. Sleep cleanses your brain, regulates hormones, and provides your body with the rest it needs to function properly. While there are many ways to improve sleep, here are five key strategies you can implement today.
1. Get on a sleep schedule.
Go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day, even on weekends. This allows your brain to sync with a routine, which supports your body’s circadian rhythms and promotes better quality sleep. To create a consistent schedule set an alarm an hour before bed to remind yourself to wind down and prepare for sleep.
2. Create a nightly routine.
Establish a nightly routine to let your brain know when it’s time to shift into sleep mode. This may include a warm nighttime bath, meditation, prayer, or reading a book. Choose any non-stimulating activity that allows you to unwind and get ready to rest.
3. Create a sleep sanctuary.
Create a sleep-promoting setting in your bedroom with minimal distractions. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet. Set your thermostat to 66 degrees Fahrenheit. This reduces your body temperature, which promotes better sleep. Block out blinking or intrusive light and consider using a white noise machine or fan to mask outside noise.
In addition, use your bedroom for sleep only. Avoid doing work, scrolling on your phone, or spending extracurricular time in bed. Engaging in “awake activities” in your bed prevents your brain from associating it as a place for sleep.
4. Go offline on time.
Screens stimulate your mind and delay the release of sleep hormones, even when you are physically exhausted. Avoid blue light for one to two hours before bedtime. This will allow your hormones to properly signal your brain that it’s time for sleep.
5. Swap afternoon coffee or tea with a decaf drink.
Avoid caffeine 10-12 hours before bed. When caffeine is consumed in the afternoon your body cannot metabolize it fast enough to clear it from your system before bedtime. This can disrupt sleep and leave you feeling more tired the next day. Limit caffeine to the morning hours in smaller amounts to avoid disrupting your nighttime sleep cycle.
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