Have you made efforts to improve your sleep habits but still find yourself tossing and turning? Failing to catch some quality shuteye is downright frustrating, and we understand the struggle. But believe it or not, there are numerous insomnia-inducing culprits you’re not even aware of that can prevent a good night’s sleep. Read on for some before-bed habits for amazing sleep.
The overly stimulating world we live in makes it difficult to relax and allow your revved-up system to wind down for the night. Meanwhile, common factors like stress, anxiety or post-workout endorphins can also hinder your ability to fall asleep.
And unfortunately, sleep deprivation invites a host of health issues, both physically and mentally, that can interfere with your quality of life.
So sleep is important—you get it. But what can you do to get amazing sleep on the daily (or should we say nightly)? Here at SkinnyMs., we’ve rounded up 6 before-bed habits that’ll help you sleep like a baby. These healthy activities relax your body and help you unwind, so you slip into bed feeling tired and relaxed. Wave buh-bye to groggy mornings and nonstop yawns- these sleep practices will make all the difference.
6 Before-Bed Habits for Amazing Sleep
1. Have your last meal earlier.
Heavy meals before bed can rob you of quality ZZZs. The energy your body puts into digesting and metabolizing that late-night dinner can interfere with your system’s ability to settle down. It disrupts your circadian rhythms and sleep cycles, preventing you from getting the deep sleep your body needs. After meals, your body requires a couple hours to settle down, and going to sleep immediately prevents it from doing so. Not to mention eating dinner at an earlier hour will have you feeling lighter, more energized, and less bloated in the morning.
Believe it or not, certain foods can dramatically improve your sleep. If you struggle to get great sleep on the regular, choose foods that naturally support healthy shut-eye, such as these 6 Evening Foods for a Better Night’s Sleep!
2. Engage in some calming, sleep-inducing exercise.
Gentle stretching and relaxing yoga before hitting the hay can calm your mind and steady your breath. Research shows easing the body through gentle movement and breathing will activate the parashympathetic response that helps you fall asleep, the polar opposite of your body’s fight-or-flight stress reaction which keeps you awake. Need ideas? Give some of the gentle poses you’ll find in Yoga for Relaxation a try!
With gentle movement, the keyword here is gentle. Steer away from intense physical activity before sleeping- doing so can totally rev up your system and knock you energy levels up a notch- not the recipe for a sweet slumber!
3. Put lavender on your pillow
This lovely garden favorite has more to offer than just a sweet scent. Lavender can actually serve as a natural, yet super effective sleep aid, as people have used the herb for centuries to ease anxiety and reverse insomnia! Studies show lavender helps the muscles relax and the heartbeat to slow down, promoting slow-wave sleep, the kind of quality slumber your body needs to heal and restore itself. The natural relaxant wont knock you out immediately, but rather help you slip into that sleepy state you might be missing. Simply dilute a few drops of lavender essential oil in water, and spray on your pillow!
Learn more about the magical wonders of essential oils by checking out Your Guide to Essential Oils.
4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
As a stimulant and diuretic, caffeine can make it real hard to get your snooze on. And even if you do fall asleep, the effects of caffeine will have you sleeping lighter, and probably making some trips to the bathroom at night. Although an afternoon cup of coffee might seem harmless, caffeine’s effects can last for up to 6 hours after being consumed.
Alcohol might rock you into that sleepy state initially; and if you’ve ever had a few too many drinks, you know how easy it can be to knock out after a wild night. However, alcohol disrupts the quality of your sleep, forcing you to spend most of your night in REM rather than deep sleep. Meanwhile, your body metabolizing the alcohol causes you to sleep lighter and wake frequently throughout the night. Not to mention the drug affects your melatonin, the chemical your body needs for regulated sleep rhythms!
5. Sip on herbal tea
When it comes to sleep, a soothing cup of tea before bed can actually work wonders! Sipping on warm liquid before bed will help you unwind and relax, while calming your tummy and gently preparing your system for a great night’s rest. Caffeine-free herbal teas like Valerian, Chamomile, Hops, and Passionflower contain mild sedative properties that promote relaxation and drowsiness, while relaxing your nerves and muscles. These herbal teas contain anxiety-fighting properties as well, so you can fall asleep smiling and stress-free.
Slip into dreamland faster with one of these 5 Teas for the Best Night’s Sleep!
6. Be consistent about timing
When you hit the sack early one night and pull an all-nighter the next, your erratic bedtime schedule could be the major culprit behind your sleep troubles. Unlike machines, we can’t choose when to power off and recharge for the night, but sticking to a sleep schedule is the closest you can come to doing just that. Going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday will condition your circadian rhythms to prepare for resting and rising, and help you do so much more easily. That said, along with your A.M. alarm clock, set an alarm to go to bed as well and stick to it- we promise you’ll notice a major difference!
Stock up on some valuable sleep-related info to boost your overall health! Check out For Fewer Sick Days, Get Eight Hours of Sleep, 5 Ways Your Sleep Schedule Could be Piling on the Pounds, and 9 Tips to get Better Sleep.