Sleep. It’s something we all need and yet it’s something that almost none of us get enough of. When it comes to prioritizing our own self-care, losing track of our sleep schedule is one of the most normalized ways we neglect our own wellbeing. Science tells us that our bodies need sleep to recharge and repair themselves; without it we can suffer all sorts of side effects from irritability to cloudy thought process to worse physical performance. We have a thousand things calling for our attention, many of them coming from the little square screen that’s rarely more than a few feet away from us. It can be hard to prioritize a healthy sleep routine with so many distractions and responsibilities calling to us, but here are a few tips for making it easier and getting better sleep.
1. Put Your Phone Away
Scientists have almost universally agreed that having a smartphone in your room at night can keep you from getting better sleep. Looking at our phones keep our brains psychologically engaged, which means they’re likely to keep you from getting sleepy if you’re scrolling in bed. Additionally, the blue light from our phones can confuse our bodies’ internal clocks and rhythms and might trick them into thinking it’s time for them to be up and moving. One of the easiest tips for better sleep is just to cut your phone out of your nighttime routine.
If you use your phone’s alarm to get up in the morning, as many of us do, leaving your phone outside of your room might not be an option. If this is the case, you can put your phone on airplane mode, allowing you to use your alarm without exposing you to dozens of updates while you’re supposed to be powering down.
2. Use A Guided Meditation App for Better Sleep
If you find it hard to sleep in silence but find listening to a podcast or music too stimulating, apps like Insight Timer have thousands of free guided meditations designed specifically to facilitate sleep and rest. My personal favorite is Sarah Blondin’s “Practicing Gentle Kindness toward Ourself,” a quick ten-minute meditation focused on giving yourself permission to trust yourself. Guided meditations are an easy way to get yourself on track for a full night of sleep.
3. Focus on Your Breathing
Do you ever get to the end of a day and realize you haven’t taken even one deep breath? Intentional breathing can offer such immediate relief and peace, not to mention that it has a slew of positive side effects. Giving our lungs a full share of oxygenated air not only helps to slow the heartbeat and stabilize blood pressure, but it’s one of the best ways to alleviate stress and anxiety. Take a few minutes as you get ready for bed to practice this cycle: breathe in for ten seconds, hold for ten seconds, breathe out for ten seconds, hold for ten seconds. If you find you need something to focus on, there are many animated gifs online, like this one, that you can sync up your breathing to.
4. Take a Shower or a Bath
If you often find yourself putting off bedtime, try preempting it with a nice soak. An epsom salt bath can help alleviate any aches or pains and put you in a peaceful place as you prepare to sleep. If you’re short on time, a hot shower can also be beneficial— because our bodies naturally cool down when we go to sleep, your cool down after the shower will help your body get into its natural nighttime flow. Experts say the ideal time for a hot shower is one to two hours before bedtime. This easy temperature tip might bring you better sleep right away.
5. Bring a Heating Pad to Bed
For an extra layer of comfort, I like to use a heating pad on my feet when I’m falling asleep. The heat, plus my nightly lotion regime, keep my feet feeling soft and comfortable. Getting proper moisture and soothing heat always puts me into a state of relaxation that makes sleep easier. If you feel like chilly feet are keeping you up, an extra step like preparing a heating pad can ensure your comfort all night long.
6. Try Using Supplements for Better Sleep
Magnesium can be a helpful supplement for sleeplessness, helping to prepare your body to fall into sleep. A go-to for many people is a simple melatonin pill. Melatonin is fine in moderation, but a good homeopathic alternative is Calm’s Forte. When taking a supplement for sleep, make sure to follow instructions on a label. Usually the ideal time to take a supplement for sleep is about an hour or 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep. You should always check with your doctor before adding a regular supplement to your routine to make sure it’s safe for you.
While it might not be something we spend a lot of time thinking about, sleep is one of the most crucial parts of our health and wellness. If we’re not prioritizing our sleep, so many other pieces like our happiness, productivity, emotional stability and ability to focus might also start to slip. Taking the time to implement tips for better sleep that help promote your wellness instead of disrupting it could be a bigger investment in your life than you even realize.