Getting a better night’s sleep isn’t just about alleviating those heavy eyelids in the morning. A good night’s sleep on a daily basis can be the cornerstone of health in all aspects. Your mental health depends on plenty of energy and motivation, and your physical health depends on that downtime to rest and recover. In fact, the body does a lot of healing and maintenance work while you’re asleep.
Sleeping better should be more of a priority for us, but in our fast-paced world, we often find we lack the time for the things that matter most—or, we think we do. The fact is that we all have enough time for better sleep, we’re just not making it enough of a priority. Let’s take a look at these five steps to a better night’s sleep.
1. Make Sleep A Priority
Sleep shouldn’t be something you put off until you’re so exhausted you can barely stay awake. That’s simply not healthy, and doesn’t exactly make for a productive day the next morning. Sleep should be a priority, which means moving some other things down the priority list. Let’s start by taking a look at your typical evening.
What do you do when you come home from work? Do you eat immediately? Veg out on the couch for a bit? Go to the gym? If you’re like a lot of people, you probably do the first two more often than you hit the gym. Often, TV and other electronics can actually be the cause of poor sleep quality, because blue light signals the brain it’s time to be awake.
So, if you’re up until 2am binging Netflix, you’re not only signaling your brain to stay awake, but you’re also causing your mind and body to fall into a bad habit. The solution? Create a bedtime. Yes, just like when you were a kid!
Aside from saving the sanity of parents, the bedtime ritual was adopted for children because they function better when they’re used to a routine. Guess what? So do adults! If you prioritize your sleep, focus on creating a bedtime for yourself and removing distractions, you’ll fall into a rhythm. That rhythm will help you sleep much better and feel more rested the next day. Make your sleep a priority.
2. Include Spirituality
Don’t forget that mental and physical health aren’t the only aspects to a full and healthy life. Many people find that practicing spirituality adds depth and purpose to their life, but did you know that it might even help you sleep better?
Using prayer or even Bible meditations for sleep can ease your mind, help you connect with a higher power, and make bedtime more conducive to a great night’s rest. Meditation is a great way to calm your mind, ground yourself to the present, and engage in thoughtless relaxation. Bible meditations simply build on this and involve meditating on one or more passages from the Bible.
The point of spiritual practices before bed is to connect you with what matters most in your life and keep you grounded in humility. It also helps relieve stress, which we can all use a little less of! The days can be incredibly stressful, and sometimes, it falls outside of our realm of expertise to be able to deal with all of the stress that comes our way.
Creating a bedtime ritual means nothing if you’re not repeating the same routine on a daily basis. Yes, that means going to bed at 10, 11, or whatever time you picked every night. No excuses! Ok, so you can give yourself some wiggle room for special occasions and such, but don’t make it a habit to spurn your ritual. Doing so will throw off your entire sleep schedule, and you’ll be back to square one.
Set a bedtime and move your schedule around so that it fits your needs. If you have to go to the gym earlier, eat dinner earlier, or remove some activities (like binging Netflix) altogether to get to bed on time, it’s worth it.
4. Put The Coffee Down!
It’s something of a habit for many people to have coffee both in the morning and after work for that second wave of energy. However, drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day does not help with sleep. The caffeine can run through your body for several hours, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. It’s still doing its job, and as your mind fights for rest, the body is awake and alert.
So, next time you want an after-work coffee or energy drink, think twice. It won’t help you sleep better, and the energy you’ll get from a good night’s sleep will far outweigh the artificial kind of energy that you get from caffeine.
5. Read Before Bed
Reading before bed is far better for the mind than staring at a screen. For one thing, it can help calm anxiety and signal the brain that it’s time to wind down for sleep. Secondly, it can help improve your overall focus. Reading has been shown to improve creativity, increase empathy, and so much more. Frequent readers tend to have a more broad view of the world and the people in it, and anything that helps with stress is welcome!
You don’t have to read anything special for it to work, either. Reading the Bible, a novel, a non-fiction story or reference piece, or even a short story will have the same effect. Put the phone down and reach for that library book instead!