Developing and sticking to healthy sleep habits is a must for a balanced and productive life. If you've ever found yourself tossing and turning, counting sheep, or struggling to keep your eyelids from drooping in the middle of the day, know that you’re not alone. Between 30% and 40% of Canadians struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Research has shown the major impact of healthy sleep on our physical and mental health - from improved memory and cognitive function to a boosted immune system and better mood. So, it can be frustrating when you struggle to get enough shut-eye.
A Solid Bedtime Evening Routine is Key
Having a consistent evening routine is key for training your body to recognize the signal that it's time to sleep. When you follow a regular schedule, your body's internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, becomes synchronized, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally. An irregular sleep schedule disrupts this rhythm, leading to fatigue, insomnia, and other sleep disorders. A consistent bedtime routine can improve the quality and duration of your sleep, which in turn, determines whether you wake up refreshed and rejuvenated, or rusty and reeling.
Ready to stop tossing and turning and start waking up to your full potential? Grab your favourite blanket, curl up, and discover our favourite tips for creating a healthy sleep schedule that will hopefully have you snoozing like a pro in no time.
1. Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule
One of the first steps to creating a healthy sleep routine is setting a regular sleep schedule. Figure out the number of hours of sleep you need, and then try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock, leading to better sleep quality and helping your body to wake up at the same time naturally.
2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Before going to bed, try activities that promote relaxation and signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Dim the lights and look for calming activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle yoga, stretching or meditation. Try to avoid stimulating activities close to bedtime. Yep, that means turning off smartphones, tablets and laptops at least an hour before bed, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
3. Make a Peaceful Sleep Environment
Creating a sleep-friendly environment can really help the quality of your sleep. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool, as these conditions promote better sleep. Consider using blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out any external light, earplugs or white noise machines to mask disruptive noises, and a comfortable mattress, bedding and pillows to support a good night's sleep.
4. Watch What You’re Eating and Drinking
Be mindful of your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially towards bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with falling asleep, so avoid things like coffee, tea, and energy drinks in the late afternoon and evening. While alcohol may initially make you drowsy, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to disrupted sleep later in the night. Additionally, heavy meals or spicy foods can cause discomfort and make it harder to fall asleep. Opt for a light, balanced dinner a few hours before bedtime to ensure a more restful night's sleep.
If you like to have a snack before bedtime, opt for light, sleep-inducing snacks such as a small serving of yogurt, a banana, or a handful of almonds. Finally, consider adding sleep-promoting foods into your diet, such as cherries, kiwis, or herbal teas like chamomile.
5. Take Part in Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity has many benefits, including improving sleep quality. Take part in moderate exercise during the day, such as brisk walking, jogging, or yoga, as it helps reduce anxiety and promotes better sleep. Keep in mind, intense workouts close to bedtime can leave you feeling energized and make it harder to wind down, so try to slot those in earlier in the day.
6. Manage Your Stress
Find healthy tools to manage your daily stress and anxiety, such as practicing mindfulness, journaling, or talking to a friend or therapist. Journalling is also a great bedtime activity. Take a few minutes in the evening to practice writing down your thoughts about the day, or your intentions looking ahead to tomorrow. The release of stress that you will start to feel when putting these thoughts to paper will help put your body into a natural state of ease.
7. Talk to Your Doctor
Many of us take one or more medications to manage our health, some of which can affect our quality of sleep. Some can interrupt your ability to fall asleep, while others can cause drowsiness and sleepiness. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects, and always discuss the side effects you’re experiencing with your doctor, as getting a good night’s rest is important for managing your overall health and wellness.
Developing a healthy sleep schedule is key to feeling your best. By setting a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and making mindful choices about your diet and exercise, you can greatly improve the quality and duration of your sleep. Remember, a good night's sleep sets the stage for a productive and fulfilling day ahead.