Do you ever have those days when you wake up and feel like you didn’t get enough sleep? Or days where you wake up feeling like you were hit by a bus?
Yeah, me too.
But most of the times it’s because of the quality of sleep rather than the hours I slept for.
And I do not have insomnia, I fall asleep the minute my head lands on the pillow, on most days. But still waking up tired means that my sleep quality was shitty. And that was happening quite a lot with me last year. So I decided to get to the root of it. Because that’s how I like doing things.
BUT WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?
You have to be living under a rock if you don’t understand why sleep is so important. Sleep is super important because it gives our body time to rest and re-energise itself. It allows us to be prepared to work the next day. In fact a lot of repairs in our body or natural healing happens while we are asleep. Also, a lot of memory processing happens while we are sleeping and a good sleep is important for a healthy body and a sound mind. have you ever noticed that you feel like you are ready to take on the world in the morning? That happens only after a good sleep. A good night’s sleep is essential because we wake up more energised and more focussed.
When we are well rested and have had a good sleep, we tend to make better decisions and we are more productive too.
What affects sleep hygiene?
We no longer live in times when we have to hunt for food. Our lifestyles have changed drastically over the years. And the human body which was designed to be active, now spends most of the time hunched over a desk. And of course there are a lot of other factors too. Technology being the biggest of them. We spend so much time on screens these days. We work long hours looking at computer screens, then in our free time we spend hours scrolling through our phones. And if we have any time left we watch something on Netflix. Even when we go out, we mostly go out to the movies, and hence even more screens.
And it’s not like we are not aware. We know these things well. We all know that we shouldn’t use our phone or watch television before we go to bed. But does that stop us from using our phones in bed? Not really.
And then there are a lot of other underlying factors too. Factors that we ignore in our day to day lives, just because it is convenient. And also because we are so used to these new ways and we are not doing this intentionally. And then we wonder why we are not sleeping well. Why are we stressed all the time. Why even after a good amount of sleep we feel sluggish throughout the day.
But if you have come across this post and want to improve your sleep, then my friend you are on the right track because at least you know that you need to make some changes. You know that you have to be mor intentional about your life.
So here is everything I have found helpful and everything that helps me sleep better.
1. FIX YOUR SLEEP CYCLE:
Probably the number one reason why your sleep quality is really bad is that you don’t have a set sleep cycle. You have no fixed time when you go to bed. Some days you go to bed at 2 A.M. because you are binge watching a show on Netflix. (Happens to the best of us)
Which brings me to my first tip, Fix your sleep cycle. Which essentially means going to bed around the same time every night. When you sleep around the same time, you body clock aligns well with your sleep routine and hence you sleep better. This way you don’t wake up feeling like you need a week’s sleep.
Now, you know that you need to sleep around the same time everyday.
But how do you make that happen?
There are two ways. One is you start waking up around the same time everyday. Because waking up at the same time is still easy than sleeping at the same time. And when you start doing that, you will eventually align your body clock in a way that you will start falling asleep around the same time. This usually takes me around 1 week to 10 days to get into the routine after a vacation or something. it can take you a bit longer or maybe even 3-4 days. Totally depends from person to person.
Next is sleeping at the same time everyday, which is a little difficult to do. But there still are some things that you can do, which I am going to explain further down in this blogpost.
2. Don’t use Screens an hour before going to bed
This is something we all know well. Looking at screens before going to bed stimulates your brain and it becomes more difficult for you to shut your brain down when you are trying to go to sleep. When you are trying to sleep, your brain needs to be relaxed and at peace and not stimulated and thinking about 10 things at the same time.
We live in times when technology plays a very big role in our day to day lives. And the fact that mobiles, laptops, tablets are all portable makes it taking them to bed so much easier. And then when you are trying to fall asleep your mind is still thinking about an Instagram post you scrolled a while back.
And with technology being such a big part of our lives, we have to be even more intentional to not fall into the trap. Avoid bringing your phone to your bedroom. Even if you use it for an alarm, you will be doing yourself a favour by getting an alarm clock instead.
This is also the reason why we do not have a television in our bedroom, even though the idea of watching a movie while cuddled up in bed sounds so tempting at times.
And for times when you absolutely need to get something done before going to bed, I highly recommend changing your display setting in laptops and phones to night mode. That way, the electronics will only omit yellow/warm light and not the really harmful blue light.
3. Develop a Night Routine
I can’t even begin to explain how important it is to have a Night routine. A night routine allows you to relax and close the day so that you get a good sleep and wake up energised and ready for the next day. A night routine is also one of my favourite productivity hacks because a good sleep is essential if you want to be productive.
The key is to begin your Night routine at the same time every night, even on the weekends. It will allow you to go to bed around the same time every night and will effect your Sleep quality. And we all know getting quality sleep makes you super productive throughout the day.
How to make a Night Routine?
Again, making a Night routine is pretty simple. Just list down all the things that you want to do before going to bed, like you did for morning routine. And then arrange them in an order. Take into account how much time each task will take. now think about when you want to go to bed to get quality 8 hours of sleep and start your night routine accordingly. Make sure to avoid screens (Phone/laptop/tv) at least 1.5 hours before you go to bed.
What tasks should you include in your Night Routine?
Ideally, for night routine you should focus on tasks that help you destress. Tasks that help you relax and go to bed with a calm mind. Avoid any high intensity workouts as it affects your sleep. Some things you could include in your night routine are:
- Gratitude Journal
- Drink a warm Tea
- Plan out your next day
- Take out clothes for next day
- Breakfast prep
- Spritz a few drops of an essential oil on your pillow/ turn on an oil diffuser (make sure it has a timer)
4. Workout Often:
Because the jobs that we have these days are not as physically demanding as they used to be, this is crucial. In most 9 to 5 jobs( which are 9 to 7-8 for a lot for people) we spend most of our time sitting at desks. And that makes working out everyday even more important. Doing some simple breathing and stretching exercises at your desk help too.
But whenever you can find the time try going for at least a 30 minute workout. It doesn’t even have to be a high intensity workout. Maybe go for a walk or something. And because a lot of us “struggle” to find the time to workout in our busy schedules, it’s always best if you get it done first thing in the morning.
Working out for at least 30 minutes a day is super important for your health and it positively affects your sleep quality too. Getting your sweat on and blood flowing is a great relaxer and works wonders to keep your mind clear and focussed. However, you must avoid working out late in the evenings or right before you go to bed. Because the effects that exercise has on your body with increased heart rate and blood flow actually hinders sleeping cycle. So give yourself enough time between your workouts and sleeping time to get good sleep.
5. Make your Bedroom a Relaxing Space
Your bedroom should be a space where you feel relaxed and calm. Think of it as a sanctuary where you retire in, after a long hard day at work. And that’s why it is important that your bedroom is a place that looks and feels relaxing and cozy. Also avoid using really bright lights in the bedroom because it signals your brain and body that it isn’t time to sleep yet.
This is also the reason why we don’t have a television in our bedroom and also why we have a pretty minimally decorated bedroom. I do that in order to have a clean space to relax and unwind at the end of the day.
Also, if you work from home like I do, make sure you don’t work from your bed. Having a designated place to work is not just great for your productivity, but also for your sleep when you come to your bedroom at the ned of the day. Having a clear physical separation between the two spaces is super important.
Also, if you work a regular 9 to 5 and happen to bring your work home (which you should avoid at all costs), don’t bring it to your bed. Because you do not want to go to bed stressed about work. Make sure you have a time set when you stop working for the day.
6. Dinner Before 7
This is for people who sleep around 10-11 P.M. The idea is to have your dinner at least 3 hours before you go to bed. Having an early dinner and not snacking post dinner gives your body some time to digest food before you go to sleep. And this makes sleeping a whole lot comfortable.
Also, avoid any processed or high fat or fried foods especially for dinner. And if you are someone who can’t do without a dessert post dinner, look for alternatives that aren’t loaded with sugar. Try frozen fruits or a small piece of chocolate if you are really craving something sweet. Having a lot of sugar spikes up your energy levels hence confusing your body.
7. Drink Herbal tea & Essential Oils:
Herbal teas are great way to detox before going to sleep. And some herbal teas like chamomile tea can be quite relaxing as well. You can order this chamomile tea from amazon that I really love from amazon. Chamomile tea has an antioxidant apegenin which acts as a relaxer for the brain and helps reduce anxiety and helps induce sleep.
And chamomile tea has some other amazing benefits too. It is loaded with antioxidants and also helps in digestion and is good for your skin too. Such a win-win right?
Next is essential oils and bath salts. Having a good long bath is my go to after a long day at work. I also love using essential oils like lavender and rose and also bath bombs. Essential oils have been proven to reduce stress and induce sleep.And although Aromatherapy is a whole different world, I thought it is worth mentioning here. You can use essential oils in any form that you like. Either in a diffuser, or an essential oil infused lotion etc. I like spritzing some on my wrists and on my pillow sometimes.
8.Make your bed
It is widely know that making your bed first thing in the morning is the first ingredient for a productive day ahead. But for me, making bed in the morning is also something that improves my sleep quality. Maybe it is just me, but having a clean cozy bed to get into after a long work day is so rewarding. And the fact that I make bed in the morning ensures that I never have to deal with a cluttered bed when I am ready to go to sleep. It helps me avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety right before going to bed.
9. Be Comfortable:
This is super important if you are someone like me. I need comfortable clean clothes to sleep in. And I find it very relaxing when my clothes smell fresh. Having soft breathable night wear is absolutely essential for a good night’s sleep. And while a lot of people recommend sating Pjs, I Love my cottons. I feel that sating is not that breathable.
So pick whatever suits you, just make sure it is comfortable. While buying sleepwear I always make sure it doesn’t have any zips or fitures that are uncomfortable. Comfort is the top priority.
10. Do something relaxing
The nest tip is to do something relaxing before you go to bed. Again it totally depends on what you find relaxing. It could be listening to some light music or reading something. Anything that relaxes you works like a bubble bath, some skin care, whatever it is.
11. Prepare for the Next day:
I find it super helpful for a good sleep. I usually prep for the next day by writing down my to-do list and whatever I have on my mind. Some people also do a brain dump to jot down things that they don’t want to forget. It is also a great idea to prep for your breakfast if you can and do things like taking out the clothes that you want to wear in the morning, or packing your gym bag. Knowing that you are prepped for the next day will help you sleep better.
12. Open Windows
I find that I sleep the best when the room is a little colder and well ventilated. So I usually open all the windows in the evening and the bedroom gets nice and cold by night. that’s just how I like to sleep though. For some reason I can’t sleep when I am warm. I guess the point is to make sure your room temperature is how you like it and that you have ventilated so that it feels fresh.
There you have it. All my tips for getting better sleep. Let me know what are some things that you do for good sleep or what keeps you up at night?