Are you struggling to get a good night's sleep? Are you tired of waking up feeling groggy and unrested?
If so, you're not alone.
Millions of people struggle with getting the proper amount and quality of sleep, but there are steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene and wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Look out for number 21: the one thing you're probably doing that is PROVEN to hurt your sleep.
Here are 33 easy tips for better sleep hygiene:
1. Take a warm shower or bath
Core body temperature is key to sleep. Have a warm or hot shower close to bed time. Counter-intuitively, this will reduce your core body temperature as once you're out of the shower your body will reduce core temperature to respond to the warmth of the shower. This helps you feel ready for bed.
2. Write in a journal before bed
Writing down your thoughts and worries before bed can help clear your mind and calm your thoughts, leading to a more peaceful sleep. How much of your sleep challenges are mental? Get it out of your brain to help your body to wind down.
3. Wear socks to bed
Wearing socks to bed can help regulate your body temperature, which can aid in falling asleep faster. I hate wearing socks to bed so I'm frowning as I write this one. But the data is there! So if you haven't tried socks, give them a go and see how it helps your sleep.
4. Sleep in an igloo
This links to point 3. You can't wear socks to bed in the sahara desert. Most of us assume the ideal sleeping temperature should be 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). But it's not. The ideal temperate is actually way lower than that. 72 degrees? 68 degrees? Nope, keep going! It's actually 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius).
5. Try Yoga Nidra
Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body, which can help release tension and promote relaxation. I like Yoga Nidra which is a process where someone talks you through awareness of different parts of your body. As you move awareness it helps to get your mind ready for sleeping.
6. Listen to white noise
White noise, such as the sound of rain or ocean waves, can help block out other distracting noises and promote deeper sleep. One of my favourite authors on marketing and blogs, Brandon Gaille, has some serious health issues that require 12 hours of sleep per day. He has multiple white noise machines around his bedroom as he simply can't afford to sacrifice sleep.
7. Try a weighted blanket
Or get a massive labrador and teach them to sleep on top of you? Unlikely. Stick with the weighted blanket. The weighted blanket helps to reduce anxiety, calms the nervous system and promotes relaxation, leading to better sleep.
8. Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation can help calm the mind and reduce stress, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you've never tried any sort of mindfulness meditation then seriously give it a go. Cortisol is your friend first thing in the morning when you need to get up. But it's your enemy when you're trying to go to sleep. Mindfulness and meditation can help to reduce cortisol.
9. Sleep in a cave
Light is up there with temperature as one of the keys for sleep hygiene. It's worth the investment to create a cave of darkness. Don't literally sleep in a cave unless that's your thang. Instead, get some block out blinds and turn your bedroom into an unexplored cavern in a foreign land. Or just a dark place to sleep.
10. Take a magnesium supplement
I'm not a neuroscientist... yet. Actually probably never will be. But I love Andrew Huberman's work from Stanford University. He's a big fan of some magnesium supplements to help go to sleep and stay asleep. On the other hand, he's not a fan of melatonin. Go and check out his podcast and YouTube videos to learn more about the supplements he recommends.
11. Channel a bit of Blade Runner
Wear blue light blocking glasses: Blue light from electronic devices can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. Wearing blue light blocking glasses can help mitigate this effect.
12. Use a humidifier
Adding moisture to the air can help reduce snoring and promote deeper sleep.
13. Live like you're in the Caribbean
Sleeping in a hammock can help promote a natural rocking motion that can lull you to sleep.
14. Become a nose-breather
Nose breathing is so good for you. Mouth breathing, not so much. It's not that you should never breathe through your mouth when you're exercising etc. But the more you can breathe through your nose, the better. Especially for sleep. Try a nasal strip to help open up your airways, making it easier to breathe while you sleep. It's also helpful to literally practice breathing through your nose during the day to teach your body how to do it.
15. Drink herbal tea
Chamomile, valerian root, and passionflower tea are all known for their calming effects and can help promote relaxation and better sleep. Avoid any caffeine in herbal teas.
16. Try a foot soak
Soaking your feet in warm water before bed can help relax your muscles and promote deeper sleep.
17. Exercise up a storm
I recently read a fascinating piece of research. The researchers looked at data from more than 1,000 studies on mental health. The overall finding was that exercise is generally even better for mental health than medication or therapy. It's not that you should avoid medication and therapy. Instead, the point is that exercise is underrated.
I think it's underrated for sleep, too. The more you exercise, the better you should expect to sleep. Do baby steps. Don't exercise at all? Start stretching in front of the TV. Do a bit of exercise? Increase to a 15 minute walk every day. That's all. Be consistent and you'll be Usain Bolting your way around your neighbourhood in no time (well maybe in a couple of years but seriously consistency is king!).
18. Practice gratitude
Focusing on the positive things in your life and practicing gratitude before bed can help calm your mind and promote better sleep.
19. Sleep on your left side
Sleeping on your left side can help improve digestion and reduce acid reflux, leading to better sleep.
20. Limit caffeine before bedtime
Avoid consuming caffeine for 4-6 hours before bedtime to ensure that it doesn't interfere with your sleep. Also consider limiting intake of chemicals wherever you can.
21. Alcohol is bad for your sleep
Sorry! I know a few of you love a big Barossa shiraz. All things in moderation, right? Unfortunately from what I've seen any alcohol will negatively affect your sleep. So if drinking isn't a problem for you, don't stop. But just limit it and know that when you choose not to have a drink you're investing in your sleep.
Yes, you read that right: any alcohol is proven to negatively affect your sleep.
22. No nicotine
Refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime. A bit like alcohol, this one is best avoided completely for sleep's sake. But for life's sake avoid tobacco altogether if you can.
23. Plug up those ears
Take your environment to the next level by trialling ear plugs. Noise is another one that can interrupt or prevent your sleep.
24. Edit your bedtime routine
You have a bedtime routine. Some of you are nodding. Some of you are cringing thinking, "What IS my bedtime routine?" It's there! Now is the time to edit it. Establish a soothing pre-sleep routine to help ease the transition from wake time to sleep time. Take a bath, read a book, or practice relaxation exercises.
25. Listen to an audio book
I have more ideas in my brain than the average person (I assume). So my brain loves to tick around the clock if I don't do something about it. For me, a great way to help my brain to slow down is to listen to a fiction book as an audio book. This way I don't take in any light but it helps me to wind down. I do this when I get into bed every night and over the past five years I've listened to 40-50 books this way. I find this process soothing.
26. Keep to your sleep schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to set your body's "internal clock."
27. Keep naps short and early
Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening. If you must nap, keep it short and before 5 p.m. When you nap, aim for 15-20 minutes because this way you won't get drowsy.
28. Get light in your eyeballs first thing
Andrew Huberman (mentioned above) is a neuroscientist. He swears by light in the eye being a great way to get your circadian rhythm kicking at the start of each day. If you can, get outside for 10 minutes within half an hour of waking up. Stay sunsafe but also try to get out of the office for a sun break during the day.
29. Make your bed off limits
Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep. Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
30. Keep a sleep diary
Keep a sleep diary to track your sleep patterns and identify areas for improvement. You don't need to be a clock-watcher. Instead, this can be done through lots of apps these days which is handy.
31. Invest in a quality mattress and pillow
Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows. Most mattresses wear out after ten years. As the saying goes, invest in anything between you and the ground - tyres, shoes, mattress and pillow.
32. Limit food intake for a couple of hours before bed
Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion. Snack on dairy foods and carbohydrates if you get hungry at night. Instead of eating, try increasing your fluid intake. Although you don't want to be up ten times through the night to go to the bathroom.
33. Seek professional help
If you've tried all the tips listed above and you're still having difficulty sleeping, it may be time to seek professional help by seeing a doctor or a sleep specialist. Don't be ashamed of getting help and medication. It will be worth it when your sleep improves and you feel like a human again!
7 tips on personal wellbeing
Here are 7 tips for your personal wellbeing: 1. Sleep
The research on sleep and wellbeing is staggering. One of the highlights for me was reading that a high school student would be better off getting to bed two hours early to get extra sleep than staying up two extra hours cramming for study. I wish I'd known this when I was in high school! Sleep is that beneficial. You wouldn't go to work drunk, but sleep deprivation is in the ballpark in how it affects us.
2. Clear role descriptions
Steven Furtick explains frustration as the gap between expectations and experience. If you're frustrated at work, it may be due to a gap between the expectations of your role and the experience of your role. Clarify your role description to help narrow the gap, reduce your frustration and improve your wellbeing.