9 ways to get more (and better) sleep
Get more sleep!
Ever since becoming a parent almost 4 years ago, I have longed for more sleep. I asked friends and family – how do I get more sleep? I begged my good friend Google – help me get more sleep!
Unfortunately, that didn’t work. There was no magic solution for getting more sleep. I recently learned that the only way to get more sleep was – imagine this – to start sleeping more and sleeping better.
As a mother, I found that I was often putting myself at the very bottom of the list and my need for more sleep was being pushed aside for my children’s’ needs – and because of this, I was suffering both mentally and physically.
Now that my kids are a bit older and are in a regular sleeping routine of their own, I am able to focus on myself a bit more. And let me just tell you, I feel fantastic because of that (most of the time, anyway!).
If you’re trying to find ways to get more sleep, here are a few tips that have helped me:
1. Make sleep a priority
It can be difficult to care for ourselves as much as we need to, especially if you have children, but it is absolutely essential to our own happiness and health (and therefore, the health and happiness of our family).
Don’t leave yourself until last. Make sure that sleep is a big priority in your life. Your mind and body (as well as everyone around you) will thank you immensely.
2. Have a regular bedtime routine
Start getting ready for bed at the same time every day. Brush your teeth, floss and wash your face, and then snuggle up in bed and relax.
If you can’t fall asleep because you have too much going on in your head, keep a pad of paper and a pen near your bedside, and write down everything that is on your mind. This exercise helps me quite a bit when I can’t fall asleep (which isn’t often anymore).
Note: Keep up this routine on the weekends.
3. Wake up at the same time
Waking up at the same time each day is an important part of getting better sleep. When you go to bed at the same time, you wake up feeling alert, refreshed, and stress-free. Now that’s a great start to any morning!
Yes, you need to wake up at the same time on the weekends, too. This has to be routine if it’s going to work. So, regardless of when you go to bed at night, you need to be up at the same time each morning.
4. Nap smarter
If you are still exhausted during the day, a short nap (no more than 30 minutes) will usually cure that for you. Don’t nap longer than 30 minutes because this will often have the opposite effect than what you’re looking for.
When I used to nap during the day, I would nap until I woke up (usually about 2 hours from when I fell asleep). Every time I woke up from those naps, I would feel groggy, hungry, and even more tired than when I first laid down. Now, if I need to nap, I only give myself 20-30 minutes of shut-eye.
5. Sleep in a cool, dark room
Before you lay down to go to sleep, make sure your room is free of all lights. No lamps, no television or computer lights, no cell phones – even the lights on a digital alarm clock can make it difficult to sleep. Close your blinds/curtains and make your room as dark as possible.
It’s also very difficult to sleep in a warm room, so try to keep yours pretty cool. Most sleep scientists agree that sleeping in a cool room contributes to better sleep.
6. Make sure your bed is comfortable
Although I always encourage people to avoid paying full price for anything, I also encourage you to invest in certain things – a good mattress being one of them. The better your mattress, the better quality of sleep you will get. It’s that simple.
Along with a good-quality mattress, you should also have the proper pillow to support your head and neck, as well as sheets that are comfortable and not too warm.
7. Exercise regularly
Your exercise habits during the day play a big role in how well you sleep at night, so make sure you are exercising on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean you need to be working out for hours a day – even 30 minutes of daily activity is all it takes to start getting more (and better) sleep.
If you can’t find time to exercise during the day, don’t do anything too strenuous before going to sleep. Instead, try a relaxing exercise, like yoga.
8. Tidy your bedroom
It’s hard to rest in a room that is covered in clutter. Keep your bedroom tidy at all times so that it is a restful place to wind down at night.
Don’t just tidy up once and hope for the best. You need to have a system in place for keeping clutter out of your bedroom (and the rest of your home). My series on how to de-clutter your home may help you with this.
9. Limit food & beverage intake before bed
What you put into your body before you go to bed plays a big role in how well you sleep at night. If you must eat something, keep it light and as fat-free as possible, such as yogurt, cereal with milk, or fruit.
Try not to drink too much before bed, because this will likely mean you will be up throughout the night to use the washroom. Avoid caffeine, and drink water only until about 2 hours before you go to sleep.
Getting more sleep (and sleeping better) is one of the best things you can do not only for your physical health but for your mental health as well.
When you get enough sleep (between 7-8 hours each night), you will be in better health, but you will also have stronger immunity, a better sex life, better control over your weight and you will overall be in a much better mood.