A good night’s sleep is difficult to achieve for many people. With the fast-paced world around us, we’re often in a battle between productivity and much-needed rest and relaxation. An issue arises, though, when your sleep patterns start interfering with your body, your mind, and your health. Poor sleep habits don’t just make you grumpy and irritable; they can also lower your immune system, make you gain weight, kill your productivity, and reduce your creativity. So, needless to say, a better night’s sleep is valuable to all of us.
“Sleep is the best meditation.”
Better Sleep > More Sleep
Many people think their lack of attentiveness is a product of too little sleep, but the culprit is more often the quality of sleep, not the quantity. In other words, a full eight hours of sleep is practically worthless if you’re tossing and turning all night. The truth is, everyone needs a different amount of sleep at night to be productive. Eight hours is a general guideline, not a rule. Your sleep needs vary depending on your age, lifestyle, and health. Some research actually suggests that sleeping too much can have adverse effects on your health. So, instead of aiming to sleep MORE, aim to sleep BETTER.
Here are 5 things you can do to sleep better at night
- Take herbal supplements.
Herbal supplements can calm your mind and body by reducing functional activity, and consequently work as a natural solution for sleep. They’re often used to reduce nervous tension, muscle spasms, pain, and insomnia. Try taking a dose of medicinal herbs about an hour before bedtime, and again right before you retire to your bed for the night. Some of the best herbs for sleep include valerian, passionflower, chamomile, California poppy, and lemon balm.
- Exercise more.
The National Sleep Foundation has found that regular exercise is a natural remedy for a good night’s sleep. Specifically, exercising in the morning or afternoon helps you fall asleep faster with little trouble. Avoid exercising right before bed, though, as that can often have the opposite effect.
- Cut the caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes
Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes all can affect your sleep cycle. While alcohol may relax you enough to put you to sleep, it will likely give you a choppy, restless cycle where you awake more frequently than usual. Cigarettes are similar in that a small amount can relax you, but too much can cause insomnia. Caffeine, on the other hand, has an opposite effect. It lengthens phase 2 of sleep and shortens phases 3 and 4, where REM sleep occurs. So, essentially your brain is stuck in the phase where it processes the day and reorganizes itself, but has a tough time reaching a deep sleep. Cutting out these three habits could be the key to improving your sleep.
- Ditch the screens.
Tons of studies have concluded that electronics harm our sleep cycles. Specifically, staring at screens before bedtime affects our melatonin levels, making it harder to fall asleep. Basically the light of the screens tricks our brains and confuses our biological clock. Technology is also linked to sleep disorders, among many other types of mental health problems. Try turning off your devices an hour or two before bedtime to keep your melatonin levels in check and improve sleep habits.
- Meditate before bed.
There are tons of sleep-oriented meditation techniques designed specifically to help you fall asleep. Deep breathing into the lower stomach turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows you to drift into a deep and restful sleep. Meditation, in general, helps put your mind and body at ease, which is exactly what you need when your head hits the pillow.
Your mind, body, and spirit can only thrive with proper rest and relaxation. While the quantity of sleep is important, it’s really the quality that matters. These 5 things will not only help you sleep better at night, but will make you feel rejuvenated and replenished the following day. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep!