It’s important to take care of yourself as the world reopens. It’s easy to go from 0 to 100 when it comes to socializing, but after a year of reduced social contact you might need a little extra TLC. The many options for movie nights, concerts and dinners out shouldn’t be made at the expense of your sleep schedule. Safely enjoy socializing to your heart’s content, but also don’t forget to eat some vegetables, drink water and get your zzz’s.
According to the CDC, “Getting enough sleep is not a luxury—it is something people need for good health. Sleep disorders can also increase a person’s risk of health problems. However, these disorders can be diagnosed and treated, bringing relief to those who suffer from them.”
The CDC recommends that adults between the age of 18 and 60 get 7 or more hours per night.
The top sleep hacks for falling asleep faster and sleeping better:
- Put your phone away at least two hours before bedtime
- Utilize aromatherapy for soothing and relaxing scents
- Buy a weighted blanket
- Ensure you sleep in full darkness – if you can’t, buy a sleep mask
- Use a white noise machine or meditation podcast to block out noise
- Enjoy a light stretch or yoga flow to reduce tension and increase melatonin
- Avoid working out intensely right before bedtime
Put your phone down two hours before bed. You’ll thank us tomorrow, we promise.
Scrolling mindlessly might feel relaxing, but it can actually decrease your likelihood of falling asleep quickly. Not only will news and other imagery excite your brain and increase alertness, the light emitted from your phone is also going to delay your sleep and mess with your circadian rhythm.
“The blue light emitted by your cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle,” says SCL Health. “This makes it even more difficult to fall asleep and wake up the next day. The circadian rhythm seems to be especially sensitive to blue light since it has a short wavelength.”
So if you’re looking to catch some zzz’s, put your phone away.
Bust out the aromatherapy. Breathe in and out the zen vibes.
Certain fragrances have a calming effect on your brain. This is caused because the nerves in your nasal cavity relay information to your brain. These nerves will either sound the alarm if something is bad, or increase the level of serotonin in your brain, depending on the smell. This reaction can help you feel relaxed before shutting your eyes.
But not all smells are created equal. Lavender is a popular scent, but you can also check out other relaxing smells such as ylang ylang or chamomile. AmeriSleep recommends the following oils: lavender, chamomile, sweet marjoram, bergamot, clary sage, valerian, sandalwood, ylang ylang, jasmine and peppermint.
Be cautious before you dive nose first into your aromatherapy kit. Some essential oils can cause allergic reactions, so please check with your doctor.
Use a weighted blanket. It’s like getting tucked in with a giant hug.
Weighted blankets were all the craze a few years ago, but they’re not just a trendy marketing push, they can be extremely helpful for anxiety and increasing sleep function. Most weighted blankets weigh between 5 and 30 pounds in order to mimic a technique called “deep pressure stimulation.”
Deep pressure stimulation is a form of therapy that helps regulate your central nervous system. Your central nervous system is the part of your body that controls all of your nerves. It’s responsible for everything that you feel. When you feel anxious, that’s your central nervous system.
Deep pressure stimulation uses pressure to calm the central nervous system and regulate its functions. This can be as simple as getting a hug – or using a weighted blanket. This reduces levels of anxiety and increase levels of serotonin, which will increase melatonin that helps you fall asleep.
Block out all light. Sleeping masks are equal parts fashionable and functional.
Your sleep cycle is naturally tied to light (see above, re: why you shouldn’t look at your phone). When you are exposed to bright light your body naturally thinks that it’s time to wake up and start the day. Therefore it’s best to sleep in as much darkness as possible.
But unfortunately if you live in a city with lots of light outside, or in the northern hemisphere during the summer, it can be hard to get the darkness you need. Enter a sleeping mask. They can be quite cute, but can also help you get that much needed sleep.
Try a white noise machine or sleep meditation to knock out in an instant.
Loud noises can interfere with your sleep. No one likes when their roommate starts playing the bongos at 2 a.m. And while your roommate might be very respectful, it’s likely that small noises (like getting up to get a drink of water in the middle of the night) might interfere with your sleep.
Skip the stress of an unwanted wake up call and invest in a noise machine. You can also use a simple phone app if full scale a noise machine isn’t in your budget.
Get in the nighttime flow with some restorative yoga.
Stretching and yoga is a great way to wind down before turning in for the night. In restorative yoga you hold gentle poses for several minutes at a time. The goal is to increase flexibility, not to challenge yourself.
This style of stretching helps reduce lactic acid within your muscles and naturally increases melatonin. Looking for yoga ideas? Check out our blog posts on gentle stretching and our free online yoga classes.
Save intense workouts for early in the day. The adrenaline rush won’t help you sleep.
Some people might think it’s a good idea to go on a vigorous run right before bedtime in order to tire yourself out. Sadly, they are mistaken. While running has many benefits, a run right before bed will increase your adrenaline. Adrenaline is a natural energy booster and will not aid in relaxing you before bed time.
Save the workout for the early morning or anytime prior to your nighttime routine. Instead opt for the yoga we mentioned earlier.