I’ve never really struggled with sleep, until sometime in 2021.
On occasion, I’d either struggle to fall asleep or wake up just after midnight and then lye awake for 3+ hours before falling asleep again.
So I decided to look at my daily activities to see what could be affecting my sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
Scientists have determined that getting a good night sleep on a regular basis is important for a multitude of reasons;
- makes you live longer
- enhances your memory
- makes you more creative
- makes you look more attractive
- keeps you slim and lowers food cravings
- protects you from cancer and dementia
- wards off colds and the flu
- lowers your risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes
- help you feel happier, less depressed and less anxious
Now if that’s not a good enough reason to get a good nights sleep I don’t know what is.
Want to understand the science behind why we sleep and why it’s so important for us? This is probably the most comprehensive resource on sleep and might just convince you why to try and sleep better.
What can you do to sleep better?
Our lifestyles play a big role in how well we sleep at night (or day, maybe you work nights), so it’s worth looking at your day-to-day activities that might be impacting your sleep.
Whilst this is definitely not a definitive list, here are some things that have helped me get better, more consistent sleep;
- sunlight after waking
- get moving
- reduce caffeine consumption
- avoid “thinking” tasks before bed
- reduce blue light exposure before sleep
- journal before bed
Sunlight after waking
Our circadian rhythm which regulates our sleep pattern is governed by our exposure to light.
By stepping outside first thing in the morning after waking up we expose ourselves to natural sunlight (even on a cloudy day) which will help us sleep better at night.
This also has the added benefit of getting Vitamin D from the sun.
This probably won’t come as a surprise to you that moving (using up your energy) will help you sleep easier at night.
If you’re not used to regular exercise, try and find something you enjoy and work it into your routine – something is better than nothing, you don’t have to suffer for it to count.
My go-to is a daily walk, but on occasion, I might mix it up with;
- weight training
Reduce caffeine consumption
Coffee and other caffeinated drinks (like teas and energy drinks) might be hurting your sleep.
Caffeine has a half-life of around 6 hours, meaning if you drank a cup of coffee at 4 pm, by the time you go to bed at 10 pm, half of the coffee will still be in your system.
So cutting out caffeinated drinks around mid-day to early afternoon might be a sensible idea.
Looking for a stylish, reusable cup for your hot drinks? I’d definitely recommend this coffee cup from Chilly. I use it most mornings when I have to commute into an office.
Avoid “thinking” tasks before bed
Working before bed is my Achilles heel (I’ve found this can also extend to checking emails).
If I try and squeeze in a couple of hours of work before bed, I’ll often think about the task for a couple of hours into my sleep time.
So I’ve developed a few rules;
- stop working at least an hour before sleep
- turn night mode on
- turn my screen brightness down
- just don’t check emails in the evening – it can wait for the next day
Reduce blue light exposure before sleep
Blue light (which comes from things like the sun and artificial lights like our mobile phone screens) and the brightness of light, suppresses the body’s release of melatonin – a hormone that makes us feel drowsy.
Being exposed to blue light in the evening can trick our brain into thinking it’s still daytime – leaving us alert instead of tired.
Some things to try;
- enable night mode on your device
- turn the brightness of your screen down
- put your device(s) down as early as possible
- dim the lights around you
Journal before bed
Journaling might sound like something teenage girls might do, but after experiencing some really bad brain fog, I decided to try this Braincare journal by Heights.
Whether this is down to the journal itself or a multitude of other things I incorporated into my daily life, I’ve not experienced brain fog as mentioned above.
Doing this activity just before bed, also allows me to reflect on the day and practice gratitude – the activity itself doesn’t take long at all, maybe 2 minutes.
One of the first things I do when getting into bed is fill out my journal for the day. It helps me to practice gratitude and reflect on the day that has passed.