10 Ways to improve sleep

One complaint I hear all the time from clients is that they struggle to sleep well. Whether they are stressed or anxious and can’t shut down their thoughts, they have trouble relaxing, there’s not enough time to get a good nights rest or their medications negative impact sleep, this seems to be a struggle that comes up for most of us at some point.

The ways to improve sleep are pretty simple when we look at them, and a lot of people dismiss some tips for that reason. People want a new fix or magic pill, which unfortunately doesn’t exist!
When I really start to talk to people about their sleep habits, they often are not doing most of the things on this list. Which means there is lots of room for improvement! When you look at the list, how are you doing? How many did you do last night? What ones can you improve on? As I look at this list, I did 5 of the 10 last night, which is an improvement from some points in my life but definitely not as good as it has been. There are times, like now for me, that you will be working more and your schedule may be off. This can make it harder to keep a routine. Kids can also through off sleeping schedules, as any parent knows! We usually can do better in at least one area though. As you read through this list take note of ways you can improve your sleep and your night time routine.

1. Create an unwinding routine
A regular nightly routine helps the body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include reading, yoga, taking warm shower or bath or meditating. Start this as soon as you can and slowly unwind. Pick a time and consciously try to shut off all work and worries.

2. Stick to the same sleep and wake up times, as much as possible
Wake up and go to sleep around the same time, even on weekends. This can help signal to your body and brain that it is time to sleep and wake up.

3. Create a comfortable environment
Your room should be safe, comfortable and inviting. Bedding should be comfortable. Temperature should be cool and adjusted to your liking. Try and minimize bright lights, use ear plugs, white noise machines, fans or other devices that can help improve your sleep environment.

4. Limit screen time
Limit being on your phone, tablet, computer or watching TV before bed. These can interrupt our ability to fall asleep and go into deep REM sleep.

5. Try tea, vitamins and supplements and the routines that go along with them
Try tea, vitamins and supplements that can help you relax and fall asleep. Many people like taking chamomile tea and melatonin before bed. The ritual of making the tea, and sitting somewhere quite to drink it can also help improve sleep.

6. Avoid stimulants and alcohol before bed
Caffeine, nicotine and even alcohol can negatively impact sleep. Avoid these things as much as possible before bed. Alcohol can help us fall asleep faster, but it interrupts sleep later in the night as your body starts to process the alcohol.

7. Exercise
As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve the quality of your sleep. Look for ways to get active and moving during the day and then slowly start unwinding before bed.

8. Don’t eat foods that cause indigestion before bed
Heavy, rich, fried, fatty and spicy foods can interrupt sleep and cause indigestion. Citrus, fruits, and carbonated drinks also be disruptive. Watch the foods you put into your body in the evening and how they impact your sleep.

9. Get enough sunshine & get enough darkness
Getting enough exposure to sunlight during the day helps maintain the appropriate sleep-wake cycle. Make it a priority to get enough light during the day, and dark during the night. Keep your room dark, cover lights and get black out curtains as needed.

10. Limit daytime naps
If you take naps during the day, keep them to under 30 minutes. Short power naps can reset and rejuvenate us, but napping too long can interrupt night time sleep. Napping also does not make up for inadequate REM sleep.