How to Improve Your Sleep!

How many hours of sleep do you get each night? Most adults need at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep to feel rested and energized when they wake up. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to our immune function, cardiovascular health, productivity, memory, and exercise performance! As you may know, lack of sleep can impact your ability to concentrate and think, negatively impact your mood, and decrease your productivity throughout the day. If you struggle to get enough sleep each night, try implementing one or more of the following tips:

Create a realistic and maintainable nighttime routine that works with your schedule and daily goals. Aim to stick to your routine every night, even on the weekends, and your body will start to get into a healthy habit of going to sleep at a decent time and unwinding early enough to get a goodnight’s sleep. Here is an example of a simple nighttime routine: At 9:00pm, stop what you’re doing and tidy up the space that you are in so that you can wake up to a clean space in the morning. Make sure to turn off your electronics and any unnecessary lights that may be on in the house. Then you can make yourself a non-caffeinated tea or grab a glass of water. Unwind by enjoying your tea (or water) and try one of the following: read a few lines of your favourite book; try journaling; do a 5-minute meditation or mindfulness exercise; or listen to calming music [Check out Hockey Fans in Training Spotify Playlist called ‘Sleep Sounds’]. Wash your face, brush your teeth, get into your pajamas, and crawl into bed. Turn the lights out by 10:00pm and get a good night’s sleep!

Engage in mindfulness before bed!

There are numerous apps available that you can download on your smartphone free-of-charge to help you engage in a daily mindfulness practice. These apps have many resources to guide you into mindful moments, meditation and breathing practices. They may also play calming music, which can help you relax and decompress after a long day. Apps such as Headspace and Calm have great resources for you to utilize. Another great way to wind down before bed is to engage in some gentle stretching, or a yoga flow.

Optimize your bedroom environment by eliminating external (natural or artificial) light before going to bed: our internal body clock, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm, operates 24 hours a day and is influenced by light. When light hits our eyes, a signal is sent to a region of the brain to determine what time of day it is. For example, as nighttime approaches and natural light dissipates, the brain will determine that it is nighttime and that we should start feeling tired, so the body will be told to release a hormone called melatonin to induce drowsiness. When you continue to look at your electronics or keep bright lights on when getting ready for bed, the brain may instead interpret this light as daytime and will not produce the amount of melatonin that is needed for a good night’s sleep. Try limiting screen time or avoid it completely for an hour before you hit the hay!

A few other simple tips to getting a good night’s sleep include:

  • Exercise during the day to release energy and help you to feel more tired in the evening. Research shows that exercise can help you to sleep better!
  • Avoid caffeine after noon to ensure that it will not impact the quality of your sleep
  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at consistent times, 7 days a week
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Take a relaxing bath or shower before bed
  • Turn off the TV before bed and swap to read a book or magazine instead
  • Try a deep breathing exercise to decrease stress and calm the body before it’s time to sleep

The bottom line – sleep plays a key role in our health. Make it a priority to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night and optimize your bedtime routine to set yourself up for success!

References

17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night. (2020, February 28). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-tips-to-sleep-better

The Benefits of Getting a Full Night’s Sleep | SCL Health. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2022, from https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2018/09/the-benefits-of-getting-a-full-night-sleep/

Why Do We Need Sleep? (2014, June 26). Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep


 

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