9 Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep
Many biological functions take place only when we sleep. Getting a good amount of sleep each night helps conserve energy, restore cells, improve brain function, reset emotional well-being, and assists with weight maintenance and proper insulin function, immunities, and heart health – to name a few.
Without sleep, your body struggles to function at its optimal level. Sleep deprivation is common among Americans, as we often overwork ourselves, so it’s crucial to incorporate proper sleep as part of your journey to optimal health.
When you don’t get enough sleep, a few things may happen that can have a negative impact on our weight loss journey:
- Cortisol levels can increase. Cortisol is a stress hormone that promotes fat storage and inflammation throughout the body. High cortisol levels not only lead to weight gain, but also to high blood pressure, acne, and muscle weakness.
- Your immune system could become compromised. Your white blood cells that fight infection are reduced when you get poor sleep. When this happens, your response to illnesses such as a cold or flu is markedly slower, resulting in prolonged sickness.
- It may lead to depression. When you don’t get a proper amount of sleep, your negative thoughts and emotions are more pronounced. This makes it difficult to use reason and logic to remain clear-headed.
All of the above factors can result in weight gain, pushing you farther away from your goals. As a society, we struggle to get enough sleep as it is, but we also have trouble falling asleep to begin with. Here are some ideas to help you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep throughout the night:
- Increase your exposure to sunlight during the day. This will help align your body’s natural circadian rhythm, the system in charge of your 24-hour sleep and wake system.
- Reduce blue light exposure throughout the day, especially in the evening. Blue light is emitted from technology screens like cell phones and laptops. Using these during the evening stimulates your brain and tricks your circadian rhythm into thinking it’s daytime.
- Drink less caffeine. Many people don’t realize just how much caffeine they consume on a daily basis or how poorly their bodies metabolize it. Try consuming caffeine only in the morning so your body has time to process it before bedtime.
- Give yourself a schedule. Going to sleep and waking at the same time each day helps your body create a habit. Before you know it, you’ll find your body waking and getting tired at the same time every day.
- Diffuse essential oils. Essential oils, such as lavender, have many health benefits. Lavender is often used as a calming aid, as it induces a sedentary effect to improve sleep. If diffusing isn’t your thing, try drinking a hot cup of lavender or chamomile tea before bedtime.
- Change the temperature of your sleeping environment. Studies show that most people sleep better in a colder environment, somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Test different temperatures to find out which is comfortable for you – you may be surprised at the results!
- Exercise during the day. Exercising too close to your bedtime can make you more alert. If you must move before bed, try doing easy stretches as a way to de-stress and wind down.
- Meditate. Before going to bed, take 5-10 minutes to put your mind at ease. Engage in deep breathing exercises or participate in a guided meditation through online videos or apps.
- Avoid eating late at night. When you eat large meals or snacks right before bedtime, blood sugar levels are raised and it takes approximately three hours before they begin to settle back down. Try eating your last meal at least 4 hours before bedtime.
Each individual differs from the next, so it’s important to take the above information and mold it into a lifestyle that works best for you. Sweet dreams!