Today I wanted to talk about sleeping well. Because sleeping is something that mostly comes naturally, we don’t really think much about it. But sleeping well is something that is really important to our health and well being. Having bad quality sleep can result in lack of energy, less productivity and a lack of emotional stability.
So thinking about how many hour of sleep you’re getting is al least just as important as making sure you’re getting good quality sleep.
1. A regular sleep cycle
Make sure you are going to sleep and waking up at around the same time every day. Our body as our own internal clock.
So try not to sleep in on weekends, even though you are tired. Wake up at your usual time and take a nap instead. But be cautious with naps. Try to take them in the morning before noon and don’t nap longer than 20min.
2. Pay attention to the influence of light
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle. With less light our brain produces more melatonin and we get tired. With more light, our body produces less and we are more alert. In the olden days our sleep and our scheduled were regulated by the rising and the setting of the sun. But nowadays there are so many more potential light influences that can disturb our sleep cycle.
During the day, you should try to come in contact with the natural sunlight. So maybe eat breakfast by the window and open all the blinds. Spend more time outside like taking a walk. If you live in a country where it’s dark a lot of the day, try using a light therapy alarm clock* that mimics the rising and the setting of the sun.
At night try to avoid screen one to two hours before going to bed. Screens emit lots of blue light that suppresses the melatonin production. If you must use a screen make sure you turn down the brightness and use an (almost always free) app or software that blocks the blue light and makes the screen more orange. And when it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark. Close curtains and cover any devices that emit light.
3. Pay attention to what you eat
What you eat during the day has influence of the quality of your sleep. Try to avoid Caffeine and Nicotine. Both substances that keep us awake. Also try not to eat too much, too spicy or too fatty before bed. This will keep our body working hard at digesting our food at night. Alcohol is also a substance that can disturb the quality of our sleep. Even though alcohol helps us relax and maybe even fall asleep better, once the alcohol wears off, it disturbs our sleep cycle.
4. Relax and empty your mind
Many of us have trouble sleeping because we have stress and or anxiety that keeps us up. Make sure you keep stress and anxiety as low as possible. For example you can try journaling to empty your mind. I have a blog post on emptying your mind through journaling.
Other than that try visualizing something that is relaxing like clashing waves at a beach or a flickering flame of a candle.
Or try concentrating on your breath. Lie on your back and breath in and out slowly.
Don’t make falling asleep your goal (it can just be even more frustration when you can’t fall asleep) but rather relaxing.
5. Improve your sleeping enviroment
Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable. Eliminate any sound, or wear ear plugs. Make sure the temperature is comfortable. Most people prefer 18-19°C (64,4-66,2°F) when they sleep. Also make sure you have enough fresh air to last the night (we use up a lot of the oxygen when we sleep), so ventilate before going to bed.
Also try to avoid doing other things in bed other than sleeping. We want our minds to associate our bed with sleeping only. So don’t work or watch TV in bed.
*affiliate link (I earn a small commission, but it won’t be more expensive for you 😉 )