We all know the disastrous feeling of waking up after a poor night’s sleep. The aching bodies, the lack of concentration, the irritable mood swings; these are all fast signs of a night of tossing and turning. What’s more, a lack of quality sleep has been linked to a whole host of health defects such as high blood pressure, an increased risk of diabetes and even heart disease. In today’s world, it seems like everybody is looking for an answer on how to sleep properly.
But proper sleep has become increasingly more difficult as our societal pressures, work structures, and family duties often force us to put our sleep hygiene on the backburner. What’s even worse, many seek to balance this out by utilizing chemical supplements, sugary energy drinks and loads of caffeine.
However, this does not have to be the case. The truth is, there are an unbelievable amount of natural solutions and home remedies for good sleep. If you are looking to understand how to sleep better at night naturally, look no further. Below are ten natural, healthy steps that will help you wake up feeling more refreshed, energetic and best of all; happy.
We know that our diet is crucial to our health, just as we know sleep is as well. However, we often don’t explore the relationship between these two factors. By making a few simple steps such as quitting caffeine by the afternoon and making dinner your lightest meal to avoid indigestion, you can significantly improve your sleep quality.
Researchers at John Hopkins have found that smokers are four times more likely to wake up feeling less rested than non-smokers. The withdrawal from the nicotine that invariably happens during sleep creates a stimulative effect, which ultimately can lead to sleepless nights. Further, smoking can increase issues such as sleep apnea and asthma, two conditions that have been linked with poor sleep hygiene.
The brain associates lower body temperatures with rest, therefore it is essential to strike a balance between your nighttime wear, the cozy covers and the temperature of your room to ensure that your body and mind are primed for sleep. The NSF recommends a room temperature somewhere in the radius of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can't use AC, or prefer not to, try tactics like keeping the windows open, freezing your sheets or even experiment with new technologies like temper controlled bed systems.
While alcohol can help healthy people fall asleep faster and deeper, inevitably it reduces the amount of REM sleep one experiences throughout the entirety of the night. Without proper REM, the body does not fully experience all the restorative benefits of sleep. Much like smoking, alcohol can also suppress breathing and can, therefore, encourage sleep apnea.
By consciously directing our focus towards one target, we can actually increase awareness and bring more relaxation to the mind. When it comes to sleep, relaxation is critical. A calm body sleeps sounder, and there is a whole host of early evidence and studies suggesting that meditation techniques can actually improve sleep and help combat insomnia. If you are experiencing any issues sleeping, try any of these meditation techniques before bed; guided meditation, visualization, body scan, or yoga nidra.
(Blue light blocking glasses shows: Hudson in Black)
Proper sleep is fundamentally dictated by the patterns, behaviors, and routines that we set for ourselves. If we associate our bed with anything but sleeping, it can impact our sleep quality drastically and negatively. Therefore, it is always best to avoid eating, working, or watching TV while in bed. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and unable to fall asleep, elect for soothing rituals like reading or meditating instead of turning directly to our devices and screens.
Controlling your exposure to light is paramount in creating a healthy sleep routine and ensuring that your sleep cycles are regulated. Light is the key signal telling our brain when it is time to sleep and when it is time to rise. As the sun goes down and blue light exposure diminishes, our brain reacts by release the chemical melatonin into our bodies. It is this melatonin that prompts our body to sleep and ensures that we receive all the restorative benefits of a proper night’s sleep.
By exposing yourself to light early in the morning and limiting certain types of light during the evening, you can make an impactful and positive effect on your sleep.
On this point, ensure that when it is finally time to sleep, your room is as dark and cozy like a den. If you live in a city full of bright lights, consider investing in blackout curtains. Also ensure that your devices are stored away from you, as they emit blue light which can trick our brains into thinking it is time to wake and can therefore significantly disrupt our night’s sleep and our following sleep cycles. Even if our devices are faced away from us, studies are showing that even proximity to them may still be affecting our sleep.
Though it may be tempting to stay up all night binging the next great Netflix show, it is crucial that we build for ourselves a regulated and disciplined sleep routine that generally follows the patterns of the sun. Again, our bodies and brains respond very positively to routines.
By sleeping in too long on the weekends, you are disrupting your natural patterns and will, therefore, make returning to any sense of sleep rhythm and balance all the more difficult. By going to bed and rising around the same time, even on weekends and holidays, you can build a sense of rhythm into your brain and body and ensure you are getting the most restful sleep possible each night. In general, it is best to time your sleep around the movements of the sun; meaning we get to sleep between the hours of 10:00PM and 11:00PM when the sun has fallen, and we rise around 6:00-7:00AM when the sun rises once more.
We have gone over the effects light exposure has on our sleep patterns. The most critical factor in this system is our exposure to blue light. While the sun may set in the early evening, for many of us, blue light is still bouncing all over our homes due to the increasing amount of screens we have adopted into our daily lives. Our iPhones, tablets and smart TVs all emit a high concentration of blue light, and we sit a great deal closer to these screens than we do the sun.
However, by adopting technology such as blue light filtering glasses, we can counter the effects these screens are having on our routines. Blue light filtering glasses, like the lenses made by Umizato, can actually filter out 90% of the strongest blue light wavelengths and 30% of the weaker forms. They also carry a whole host of supplemental benefits such as anti-scratch and anti-glare coating, UV protection, and reduced color distortion.
(Blue light blocking glasses shown: Brighton in Chestnut)
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t seeking a magic remedy for a better night's sleep. However, many of us are merely going about solving our sleep hygiene issues the wrong way. Next time you wake up feeling disoriented, groggy and grumpy- put down the energy drink and instead try any of these amazing natural alternatives.
There are so many answers to how to sleep better naturally at night and companies like Umizato are there to help you on your journey to a better night’s sleep.
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