Plain and simple, sleep is important and is an integral part of achieving health and wellness. Current research shows that “Individuals with sleep durations far outside the normal range may be engaging in volitional sleep restriction or have serious health problems. An individual who intentionally restricts sleep over a prolonged period may be compromising his or her health and well-being (Hirshkowitz et al., 2015).
As a registered nurse, I am quite aware of all the medications and supplements that are on the market to aid with sleep. However, I would rather use non-medicinal ways to achieve better sleep.
When I was working as a nurse, I often worked graveyard shifts and my health suffered. I experienced bad headaches, acid reflux, ulcers, and fluctuations in my weight and energy levels. Not to mention, I become very emotional when I do not have enough sleep. Bless my sweet family and husband’s hearts. As I have taken steps to improve my sleep habits these past couple of years, my health has benefited.
As a soon to be mother of two, my body has been training itself for late night and early morning feedings. Having a hard time sleeping while expecting might be inevitable, however, I have put a list together to help me improve my sleep routine and wanted to share it.
20 Tips for Better Sleep:
- The bedroom is only for sleep and relaxation. Avoid eating, working or watching television.
- At bedtime, keep the bedroom dark and cool.
- Circadian Rhythms are influenced by signals in the environment, such as light. The absence of light at night signals the body to produce more sleeping-inducing hormone, melatonin. Being exposed to sunlight in the morning and day-time hours helps properly control circadian rhythms as well (Circadian Rhythm Fact Sheet).
- Keep the room clean and clutter-free. Don’t forget fresh bedding and sheets! Waking up in a peaceful environment helps me start the day on the right foot.
- Invest in comfortable bedding. Comfortable mattress and pillows are a must! Decorate your room to create an inviting peaceful atmosphere!
- If needed, use white noise, earplugs and/or sleep mask. Soft music, fans, white noise apps, and machines are great options.
- Read a book or magazine that you enjoy but can put down. Personally, reading makes me sleepy. This is a good time for my husband and me to do some couple reading and studying.
- Think of what you are grateful for. Say your prayers with gratitude and thank God for all of your blessings.
- No caffeine, alcohol or high sugar food items before bed.
- Remove makeup, shower, brush and floss your teeth. I love jumping into bed feeling clean.
- Tidy up the home. Clean home = clean mind. I love being able to start a new day with a clean palette. I can start on my daily projects instead of cleaning.
- Prepare for the next day. Write down goals to accomplish and lay out your outfit and anything you might need the next day. Set your alarm. Keep a notebook by your bed to jot down thoughts or ideas you might have that might prevent you from settling down for bed.
- Finish eating dinner a couple of hours before bed. If a small snack is easy on your stomach before bed, enjoy that too.
- If you exercise in the afternoon, do it at least two hours before bed. Exercise, especially an aerobic workout, improves sleep quality (National Sleep Foundation: Sleep and Exercise).
- Have a set bedtime. An hour or two before you would like to be settled into bed, start your routine to help you wind down.
- Use aromatherapy. Lavender is a before bedtime favorite, however, any scent that you enjoy and can associate with sleeping can help trigger your mind that it is bedtime.
- Before getting into bed, stretch, meditate and do yoga.
- When in bed, perform deep breathing and relaxation exercises.
- Stop working, studying and stressing. Put your mind at rest from the stresses of the day.
- Journal. Journaling helps you work through the emotions that you experienced that day.
- Decrease screen time on phone or computer. Turn off electronics an hour and a half before bedtime. If you need to have your phone by your bedside, turn it on night mode and/or decrease light emitted by it.
Invest in your sleep. Your mind and body will thank you.
Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., … & Neubauer, D. N. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health, 1(1), 40-43.