In Part 1 of this sleep series, I explained the connection between sleep and weight gain. And it’s true that if you want to get serious about weight loss, you need to get serious about sleep. And that if you sleep less, you will weigh more.
Want to know the the good news? Lack of sleep is considered a “modifiable risk factor”.
This means that, although it increases our risk for obesity, we have some power over it.
I know for many of us, the lifestyle changes are harder to put in to place than the dietary changes, but I promise you it is worth the effort. Sleep is a huge challenge for so many, but how well you sleep and how much sleep you get is something that you can improve by putting into place some tips and making them regular habits.
10 Tips For Better Sleep
1 – Make sleep a priority.
For a lot of us, the lack of sleep we’re getting is often because we simply give other activities priority. Trust me when I say that basket of laundry that needs folding or new season of your fave Netflix show will still be there tomorrow. Make getting a good sleep a priority, even when you’re “too busy”.
2 – Be consistent with your sleeping times.
Your body loves routine, and having a consistent bedtime can actually train your brain, your body’s clock (circadian rhythm), and sleep hormones to follow suit. It’s best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
3 – Eliminate stimulants after noon.
Ideally, you won’t expose your body to chemical stimulation for the whole afternoon and evening. This includes caffeine (coffee, black and green teas, chocolate) and nicotine (cigarettes).
4 – Get some exercise and sunshine during the day.
Of course exercise and sunshine have many health benefits, but they also tell your brain that it’s daytime, so it can help to set your body’s clock. Adding a gentle walk on your lunch break or after dinner outside in the fresh air can help you sleep better at night.
Tip: Be sure to finish exercise at least three hours before bedtime, as it may stimulate some people and keep them awake.
5 – Stop eating and drinking a couple of hours before bed
By cutting out your bedtime snack you may have a better night’s sleep and wake up more alert. Your body has a lot of restorative work to do when you’re sleeping, and it’s ideal that it doesn’t also have to worry about digesting foods. Also, by not drinking fluids a few hours before bed you’ll reduce the need to go the bathroom in the middle of the night.
6 – Lower your lights when the sun goes down
If your brain thinks it’s daytime it will not make the sleep hormone melatonin so it can stay awake. Having bright white (or blue-ish) lights can trick your brain into thinking that it’s daytime, so that winding down process doesn’t begin.
So, you can dim your lights in the early evening, buy amber/red light bulbs and/or blue-blocker glasses, turn off electronics (or at least use the f.lux or twilight apps), and if you do need to go to the bathroom during the night, don’t turn on the light. Keeping your routine as close to the sun’s natural light/dark cycle as possible will promote good quality sleep.
7 – Create a relaxing pre-bed routine.
Choose something that you enjoy and will help to relax your body and mind and prepare it for a good night’s sleep, whether it be a warm bath, or reading a book.
And when you start feeling drowsy, just go to bed. Don’t be tempted to wait for a second wind so that you can do more things. Your body needs rest, and when it tells you it’s tired, listen to that signal and go to bed.
8 – Keep your bedroom comfortable
Having a room that is too hot, bright, or noisy can keep you from having a good night’s sleep. Ideally your room will be cool, completely dark, and either silent or with white noise. That includes little lights from things like alarm clocks, tvs, etc.
9 – Get light as soon as you wake up
Turn on the lights or open the blinds as soon as you wake. This tells your brain to wake up and start the day, and helps set your circadian rhythm (natural body clock).
10- Essential Oils
There are several essential oils that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, such as lavender, wild orange, vetiver, and cedarwood. These can be diffused, rubbed into your feet or dropped on your pillowcase. I personally sleep with a diffuser with a blend of lavender and cedarwood oils.
Pick one or two of these strategies to start with, and once those are routine you can incorporate another one. Every step you take towards better sleep one step towards a healthier and happier you.
Download a free printable tip sheet with these ten tips, so you can start implementing them right away. Click the button below to download your copy immediately.