17 Easy Ways to Help You Sleep Better
Sleeping is an important part of our lives no matter who we are and what we do. We all need it and we know it. I’m sure all of us have experienced a night of poor sleep and can recall feeling run-down the following day. We spend about a third of our lives asleep, so the quality of that time makes a huge difference in our health over the years.
According to a Harvard Medical Doctor only 50% of people sleep the recommended 8 hours per night and the amount of sleeping problems is growing epidemically. Millions of people are chronically sleep deprived and suffering the deleterious effects of having low quality sleep.
Many individuals suffering from sleep deprivation don’t even realise the effect that is has in their day-to-day functioning. Only when the sleep gets better they realise how bad they had it.
Why is sleep important?
There are many vital processes that happen during our sleep that play a huge part on our health and wellbeing. Sleep influences all of the body’s major physiologic systems, including musculoskeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic, and immune systems. It also impacts individual’s mental health, and overall quality of life. Sleep basically rebuilds you and keeps you youthful.
You might think that you sleep just fine and don’t need to change anything, but think again - Why would you settle with “just fine” if you can move to excellent just with few easy steps? Optimising your sleep will affect you in ways that you didn’t even think were possible! It doesn’t just mean sleeping more, it means sleeping smarter. 6 hours of good quality sleep with give you more benefits than 9 hours or poor sleep.
Unlike sleep quantity, sleep quality refers to how well you sleep. Good quality sleep is defined as falling asleep within 30 minutes or less, feeling rejuvenated on waking and throughout the day, feeling rested and restored, and not waking up during the night.
Benefits of optimising your sleep
• Weight Loss • Reduced Stress • Improved concentration and memory
• Less fatigue • Increased productivity • Enhanced physical performance • Increased social and emotional intelligence • Balanced hormones and decreased depression • Enhanced detox of the brain and body • Strengthened immune system and decreased inflammation
• Repaired cells and overall healthier you
Having a good quality sleep has a significant effect in the quality of your life. It’s time to change the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude and realise that when you’re dead, you’re dead - and you will probably get there a lot faster if you’re not smart about your sleep.
17 Ways to Sleep Better
1. Get more sunlight
Getting at least 30 minutes of sunlight during the day will increase the natural production of Melatonin, a hormone that is responsible of regulating the sleep-wake cycle in your body.
2. Avoid blue light
The artificial blue light from electronic screens will trick your body in thinking that it’s daytime and confuse your natural rhythm. This will make your body to produce more daytime hormones such as cortisol to keep you alert and awake. To optimise your sleep it is recommended to stare at the screen as little as possible and not too late in the evening, but sometimes the is simply unavoidable. In that case you should change the colour temperature of your screens to warm on all your devices after 6pm. There are free apps such as f.lux to do just that and many smartphones have a similar automatic function.
3. No more caffeine after 4pm
Caffeine is a potent stimulant for our nervous system and will deprive us from good quality sleep. The best way to make sure that no more caffeine is in your system when you go to sleep is to have your last cup of joe before 4pm. People who are very sensitive to caffeine might need to make that even earlier.
4. Stay cool
Thermoregulation has a strong influence in our sleep cycles by automatically dropping our body temperature while we sleep. If the temperature in your bedroom stays too high and your body is not able to drop to the ideal temperature, this will have a negative effect in your sleep. The ideal room temperature according to studies is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, but I guess due to my Finnish genes I sleep better in a bit more cooler temperature than that.
5. Sleep at the right time
You can get more benefits just by sleeping at a specific time! According to studies the time between 10pm and 2am is when you reap the most benefits of your sleep due the the hormone secretion during this time.
6. Get your magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies there is and it’s also one of the most significant when it comes to our sleep. Magnesium aids our circulatory system, balances blood sugar, calms our nervous system, and relaxes tense muscles, which all play a part in getting a high quality sleep.
7. Sleep in the dark
It’s very important that we sleep in complete darkness and the reason is the same as with the blue light of the screens. Our bodies get confused if they detect a source of light during the night and this will disrupt our hormones and our sleep patterns. Even if we use an eye mask doesn’t help because our skin has receptors that can detect light and send signals to our brain and organs that will disrupt our sleep.
8. Keep your bedroom only for sleeping and sex
Keep your work away from your bedroom and move the TV to another room. Keeping the bedroom only for sleeping and making love will send a subconscious message to your brain once you go to bed which will start preparing your body to do those things. Having an orgasm will release hormones that will help you relax and fall asleep faster and increase the quality of your sleep.
9. Stimulate acupressure points According to the Chinese Medicine system, there are different acupressure points that can help you sleep simply by applying pressure and massaging these points. One of the points that aid your sleep is called Spirit gate, located in the crease on your outer wrist, below your pinkie finger.
Another point is called the wind pool point, located on the back of your neck. You can find it where your neck muscles attach to the skull.
One more point that I will mention here is the inner frontier gate point, which is between two tendons, about 2-3 centimetres away from your wrist. There are more acupressure points that can aid your sleep and best way to learn about them is to consult a professional in Chinese Medicine.
10. Remove electronics from the room
Did you know that a shocking amount of people actually fall asleep with a phone in their hand? If you are one of them, it is time to change. According to various different studies, the electromagnetic fields coming from our devices such as phones, tablets and TVs can disrupt the cells in our body. This can mean hormonal problems and even cancer if the exposure to this radiation is prolonged.
Removing the devices from your bedroom will also have a mental benefit as you give your brain time to process the events of the day instead of distracting yourself and pushing those thoughts away - making the way for future anxiety.
11. Don’t eat or drink right before sleep
Don’t eat a heavy meal at least 2 hours before going to bed. A light meal or snack is ok until 90 minutes before, but no later if you want to have a good sleep. It’s also important no to sleep while hungry, so eating a high-protein snack will do the trick. Avoid drinking a lot of liquids too late for obvious reasons and keep away from eating carbs or anything sugary at any cost because the spike in your blood sugar will certainly ruin any attempts of good sleep.
Meditation is probably one of the single most efficient way to get rid of your sleeping problems. Many people have a hard time falling asleep because their mind just doesn’t give them a break and the worries, “to-do-lists” and anxiety hit the moment they are ready to go to sleep. Meditation will help you deal with these thoughts and emotions during the day and train your mind to stay calm so you don’t have to listen to the monkey mind jumping all over the place when you are trying to sleep. 13. Wake up early
This will help you sync with the optimal pattern of sleep which humans have had for thousands of years. Waking up early will not only help you to sync your sleep patterns, but also make you more productive during the day. This is one of the tips from the most successful people in the world will give you : Wake up at sunrise and create a effective morning routine.
14. Go to nature
Have you even wondered why sleeping while camping feels so rejuvenating even though the mattress is usually super uncomfortable? Or why after a day of hiking in nature you slept like a baby?
New studies have shown the incredible connection between our wellbeing and spending time in nature. Just being in touch with the earths electromagnetic field has shown a massive decrease in inflammation and increase in our sleep.
15. Use herbs & adaptogens
Herbs have been used as natural remedies for thousands of years. Adding Chamomile, Licorice or cardamom in your tea or trying adaptogens such as Ashwagandha root or Reishi mushroom will increase the quality of your sleep. You can also use herbs in the form of essential oils and lavender is one of the most widely used oils for sleep.
16. Do a self-massage followed by a warm bath
Few of the most efficient ways to aid your sleep according to an ancient Indian Medicine system, Ayurveda, is to do a self-massage called Abhyanga. This is a massage done with warm oil and is followed by a warm bath or shower right after to relax the muscles.
17. Move your bed
Tried everything, but still can’t sleep? I honestly had this experience when I moved into a new apartment recently and went from having a great sleep to simply not being able to sleep at all. I knew the reason couldn’t be any other lifestyle factors because nothing else had changed so I decided study the phenomena and found out that moving the bed might help - and it did! I even moved the bed back couple of times to check that I wasn’t imagining things and after moving the bed back and forth like a lunatic I just had to come to the conclusion that moving the bed had a significant effect in the quality of my sleep. I don’t really know what the reason was behind this, but one possibility is a theory of Geopathic Zones that are areas where two water streams cross underground and they create a flow of energy that disrupts the growth of all living things in that crossing point. Apparently these geopathic zones can cause sickness and are the reason why trees sometimes grow in the strangest formations. Detecting these areas used to be an important profession in China and Germany back in the day, but has become a lot less common now. There isn't a lot of science to back this up, but changing the bed just to the other side of the room definitely helped, no matter what the reason was.
How to fall asleep fast?
These 17 ways to optimise your sleep should do the trick, but if you are away from the comfort of your own bed and routines, you might need some additional help. These following techniques will make you fall asleep faster even in more challenging conditions.
The Military Method
Relax the muscles in your face, including tongue, jaw and the muscles around the eyes
Drop your shoulders as far down as they’ll go, followed by your upper and lower arm, one side at a time
Breathe out, relaxing your chest followed by your legs, starting from the thighs and working down
You should then spend 10 seconds trying to clear your mind before thinking about one of the three following images:
You’re lying in a canoe on a calm lake with nothing but a clear blue sky above you
You’re lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room
You say “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” to yourself over and over for about 10 seconds.
Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/national-napping-day-2019-fall-asleep-fast-military-trick- sleep-a8817826.html
4-7-8 breathing (One Round)
Let your lips part slightly and make a whooshing sound as you exhale through your mouth.
Then close your lips and inhale silently through your nose. Count to 4 in your head.
Then hold your breath for 7 seconds.
After, exhale (with a whoosh sound) for 8 seconds.
Avoid being too alert at the end of each cycle. Try to practice it mindlessly.
Complete this cycle for four full breaths. Let your body sleep if you feel relaxation coming on earlier than anticipated.
Still can’t sleep?
If you have tried everything and your sleep is still not improving, the imbalance is probably somewhere else. Are you exercising enough? Are you eating a healthy and nutritious diet? Do you have a way to release stress? If the answer is yes, it’s time to turn consult a medical professional. You might have underlying medical condition that needs to be treated. Sleep deprivation will not kill you in few days but when days turn into months and months into years, it will have a significant effect on your health and ageing so it’s better to get it fixed rather sooner than later. Note: This is not intended as medical advice and I always recommend that you speak to your Medical Doctor if you are suffering from sleeplessness.