The events of 2020 have been challenging, to say the least. From a global pandemic that upended our lives six ways from Sunday to racial and political unrest that continues to rage across the country, it’s no wonder we can’t sleep at night. While there isn’t much we can do about what’s going on in the world around us; we can do a few things to take our nights back and finally get some rest.
Stick To A Bedtime And Waking Routine
Your body has a natural sleep and wake cycle, also known as your circadian rhythm. Any disruption to your circadian rhythm can quickly put things out of whack. The key to a good night’s sleep (consistently) is getting in sync with your body’s sleep and wake cycle.
To keep your circadian rhythm operating smoothly, try to follow the same routine every night. This includes going to bed at the same time every night and waking at the same time every morning — even on the weekends. I know that’s hard, but try to resist the temptation to switch up your routine, particularly if you’re having trouble sleeping to begin with. It could potentially compound the problem and make it even more difficult to get back on track.
Get Outside Every Day
Speaking of circadian rhythm…exposure to natural sunlight (or bright light) keeps your circadian rhythm healthy and on track. If you find that work and daily responsibilities keep you stuck inside for a better part of the day, try to get out. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes during the day, every little bit helps. Not only does exposure to sunlight (or bright lights) improve the duration of sleep, research has shown that it also improves the quality of sleep.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure Before Bed
It’s no secret that we’re all, to put it mildly, attached to our devices? They are in our hands and not far from our faces every waking moment. While exposure to bright light is good for our circadian rhythm, exposure to blue light is not. And, you guessed it, our devices emit an egregious amount of blue light. Moreover, research has shown that exposure to blue light is particularly disruptive as it impedes our production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycle. If you must use your devices before bed, try a pair of blue-light blocking glasses or download an app that blocks blue light.
Cut Down On Caffeine
Joe, java, high octane, go-juice, whatever you call it, coffee is good stuff. And the drink that used to serve a particular purpose (as a morning beverage) is now embedded in our culture and a big part of our daily routine. That being said, it could also be the reason why you’re not sleeping at night. While caffeine certainly enhances your mood and focus, drinking it late in the day can stimulate your nervous system at an inopportune time, leaving you restless (and maybe a little pumped) to the point where you just can’t fall asleep. If you find that sleep isn’t coming so easy these days, try to cut back on your caffeine consumption in the afternoon. If it's the ritual or the taste that you crave, decaf can satisfy that urge just as well.
Adjust The Temperature Of Your Bedroom
The ambient temperature of your bedroom can have a significant impact on how well you sleep. When you lay down in bed, ready to turn in for the night, your body temperature will start to drop as it prepares for sleep. However, a warm bedroom can stop this from happening. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you may not have to look any further than your thermostat. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the optimal temperature for sleeping is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A few minor tweaks to your evening settings could help you get a better night’s rest.
Get Some Exercise
If you’re not hitting the hay and falling asleep in a reasonable amount of time, the simplest explanation could be that your body just isn’t tired enough. This is particularly true for those who have sedentary jobs and lifestyles. And the solution? Yes, you guessed it, get some exercise. We’ve all heard it before, exercise is good for your overall health and well being, and it also contributes plenty to a good night’s sleep. Research has shown that exercise not only helps you get to sleep faster, but it also helps you stay asleep longer.
Everyone experiences sleep issues from time to time; it’s just a part of life. The good news is there is plenty that you can do to turn things around and catch some zzz’s. Cutting back on caffeine, sticking to a sleep routine, and nixing screen time before bed are great for starters. Throw in some exercise and adjust nighttime temperatures in your room, and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.