Pre-Sleep Activities To Get Better Sleep
Exhausted from the day and knowing you have an early morning tomorrow, you turn out the lights, flop onto your bed, and close your eyes to go to sleep—but it just won’t come. You toss and turn. You check your alarm clock. You add and remove blankets. Nothing works. Why is getting to sleep so hard?
Perhaps the problem is that you didn’t prepare your body for sleep ahead of time. No matter how tired you are, there are some events that your body automatically takes as a sign to stay awake and stay alert, so it’s possible that you’re actually sabotaging your own sleep!
Here are several things that you can work into your nightly ritual to ensure that every part of you is ready to have a good night’s rest so that you feel great in the morning.
Get into a routine. If we do the same things every night before going to bed, those activities signal our brains that it’s getting closer to sleep time and they should start winding down and shutting off. Anyone who’s ever had a baby already knows this, because when we’re little we don’t have any sense of time and absolutely need a ritual to tell us what’s coming next. Parents often do things like feeding, bathing, putting on pajamas, and reading to their kids on a nightly basis to help prepare them for sleep. Adults probably aren’t going to have such a stable routine, but you can do things like making sure to brush your teeth and reading before turning in.
Turn off screens—even this one! Unlike reading a book or magazine, staring at a screen stimulates your eyes and brain because you’re essentially looking right into a light source. It doesn’t matter if it’s a TV, smartphone, portable video game, tablet, or computer—screens make it harder to fall asleep. To the best of your ability, shut off electronic devices a good half hour or hour before turning in.
Eat and drink better—and smarter. Hopefully it’s obvious to most of you out there that you shouldn’t be getting yourself hopped up on nicotine and caffeine before trying to sleep. What you might not know, though, is that it can take several hours before those drugs leave your system, so you really want to stop using them early. Even beyond that, though, you should avoid heavy and unhealthy foods that can cause you discomfort throughout the night, drinking too much alcohol, which can have you getting up to go to the bathroom, and eating or drinking anything too close to bed.
Exercise… Engaging in physically intense labor—including exercise—has been shown to help people sleep better by wearing them out and preparing their bodies for the rest and recovery that sleep brings. It’s also valuable because regular physical activity has been shown to reduce anxiety, one of the biggest factors causing people to lose sleep. Just be sure that you work out a few hours before trying to sleep, because physical activity can also be stimulating and you need time to wind down.
…and exercise (mentally). If it’s your brain that won’t turn off at night and you’re tossing and turning because you’re frantic about that big presentation tomorrow or all the money you’re sinking into home repairs, engaging in mental exercises can help. It’s the adult version of counting sheep, and can involve anything from reciting song lyrics to thinking of words that begin with the same letter.
About the Author: Brandon Travis likes to spend his free time swimming and training for his next triathlon in the spring. When he’s not working out he likes to review websites such as irollover.com (a website that features anti snoring devices ).