15 Tips for Better and Deeper Sleep
Sleep is basically the human charger. There’s nothing more important than a good night’s sleep. It sets the tone for the day to come. While we rest our body regenerates and repairs, and a good night’s sleep leads to more productive days, better mood, greater concentration and curbs hunger. It is basically the secret to being successful, sexy and nice. Who’s with me?
I had an era where I didn’t live the healthiest life. You can read more about me here. And during a time I used to have so much trouble sleeping, I would revert to sleeping pills….and not the natural ones. Over time I have learned how to onset a proper good night’s sleep, without the help of my friends Pfizer or GlaxoSmithKline.
- Sip a warm cup of chamomile tea. Maybe it’s the ritual of having a warm cup of something before bed time. But I swear by my caffeine-free herbal tea! A mild sedative it probably won’t cure insomnia, but will definitely get your body to enter ‘sleepy mode’ and encourage a good night’s sleep.
- Or if you prefer, peppermint tea. Another warm cup of caffeine-free herb, Peppermint tea aids digestion and has been found to help sleep better thanks to its stress-relieving properties. In many cultures peppermint is served after meals to promote bile flow in order for the body to digest easier.
- Valerian in all its forms: tablets, pills tea. Valerian root or extract basically eases the nerves and helps relax the body, acting as another natural mild sedative. Although I would say a bit more powerful than chamomile. I actually use it before my plane takes off 😉
- Limit the bedroom to certain activities. No working and heavy lifting in the bedroom (unless it’s love making!) The bedroom should be a place of relaxation and rest. As I so strongly believe, we are creatures of habit, and if we associate the the bedroom as a zen area, than every time we enter it, our brain will automatically chill out.
- Be a creature of habit. We are like clocks. I don’t know about you but I wake up at the same time every morning, I get hungry on the clock, and I tire around the same time every evening. This is because I have set fixed routines during my day. Do the same and set a fixed bedtime every evening and before you know it your body will soon get drowsy at the programmed time. It’s said to take 21 days for a habit to set in.
- Keep the bedroom dark and cool. The absence of light stimulates melatonin, which onsets sleepiness. Creating a sleeping environment below 70 degrees (F) can help your body regulate its melatonin and trigger the body’s ‘hit the sack’ systems. So dim the lights a few hours before bedtime to let the body know it’s almost time for bed and keep the temperature low and the room pitch black when it’s finally time to head to bed. An extra reason for keeping the temperature low: sleeping in a cool room is said to have calorie-burning health benefits.
- Sleep naked. This goes along the same lines of keeping temperatures low. When you sleep in clothes under the covers, your cortisol level may remain high. A naked body can properly produce and regulate cortisol, leading to reduced anxiety and evil food cravings hence weight gain. Plus, in my personal opinion, there’s nothing like the feel of soft sheets against the skin. It knocks me right out.
- Stash lavender by your pillow. Research shows that the scent of lavender naturally lowers heart rate and blood pressure, inducing a relaxed state. To prepare for deep zzz’s, place a bouquet or pot pourri of lavender on your nightstand, or place a few drops of lavender oil in the shower or bath and let the steam take you to LaLa Land.
- No caffeine 5 hours before bedtime. This seems like a total no brainer. But here in Colombia, people love their coffee, even after an evening meal. To make it easier to remember, your last coffee should be during your afternoon snack, or just make it decaf from there on out.
- Take a warm shower/bath. Not only is the ritual relaxing, but a warm bath/shower raises your body temperature which quickly drops back down when finished, mimicking the natural temperature drop of the room and triggering the brain for sleep.
- Practice a bit of yoga. Yoga quiets the mind and serves as a form of meditation. Practice a few yoga stretches in bed before turning the lights out, and see how much easier it is to knock right out.
- Quit smoking. We all know nicotine is a stimulant and excites the nervous system, so no coffee and cigarette after dinner to aid digestion! (I know the old excuse). Nicotine reduces the time we spend in deep sleep, which is what give us that restorative feeling upon waking up.
- Invest in a quality mattress. Is your mattress too hard, causing you to shift and turn continuously at night? Too small that you fall off or sleep on top of your significant other? Or too soft that it provides no back support? Invest in a quality mattress, and see how much easier your days become when you have a good night’s sleep.
- Don’t sleep past your siesta. I lived in Spain where the one hour siesta was one of the things I most looked forward to everyday. Unfortunately, napping from 2pm-5pm breaks the internal clock and makes it harder to fall asleep at night. Take a short 15-45 minute nap to recharge the batteries in the middle of the day. More than that and you will feel groggy and have a hard time falling back asleep at night.
- Avoid large late night meals. Our natural biorhythm rests between 7pm and 5am. Eating during this time reduces the effectiveness of digestion and makes the stomach work overtime, and can disrupt our sleep. So avoid the nightmares and dine light. Read my article for a healthy digestion.
- Masturbate or make love! I had to add this one, after self love or loving your significant other, your body releases love hormones that are set free and induce a pleasant state of lethargy, sending you gently off into the clouds. It’s a 2-in-1!