Want to get healthier this year? Aside from the usual New Year's resolutions like heading to the gym more often or improving your diet, one key element to your health is often forgotten: sleep! In fact, getting more sleep helps you make better food decisions, repair your muscles from exercise, and lose weight. Make 2018 the year you finally focus on enjoying good quality sleep with these resolutions.
1. Stay on a consistent sleep-wake schedule.
That means no more sleeping in or staying up late on the weekends! When you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day of the week, you'll eventually be able to fall asleep faster, wake up happier, and be much more productive because you'll be supporting your circadian rhythm. It's one of the best habits you can develop for your sleep.
While this idea may sound difficult, there are some actions you can take to make the process easier:
- Ask your partner/sibling/housemate to wake up early with you on the weekends and plan a fun activity together. Cook a nutritious breakfast together, go out for a morning hike, or try anything that will motivate you both to get up and active.
- Instead of staying out late with friends, try planning your meetups for earlier in the day so it won't interfere with your set bedtime.
- Develop a wind down ritual that helps you prepare for sleep every night. This can include dimming the lights, lighting a candle, reading, listening to mellow music, journaling, etc.
2. Add more leafy greens into your diet.
Spinach, kale, collard greens, and other leafy greens contain magnesium, which induces sleep, and calcium, which boosts melatonin and helps regulate your circadian rhythm. Be sure to include more of these greens into your meals for restful sleep.
If you're not a fan of leafy greens, try adding more herbs (they count too!) to your pasta, rice, and noodle dishes, or sneak more greens into your meals with these recipes:
3. Exercise regularly.
Nearly everyone's New Year's resolution list includes exercising more to lose weight, but regular exercise actually has another huge benefit: improved sleep quality and quantity. Exercise improves sleep patterns because it reduces stress and strengthens the circadian rhythm. In turn, it increases daytime alertness and brings on sleepiness in the evening.
Just the recommended amount of exercise a week (150 minutes) results in a huge difference in your sleep quality. According to this study, those who exercised regularly reported a 65% increase in sleep quality and felt less sleepy during the day.
However, you do have to be patient! It can take weeks to feel a noticeable difference in your sleep quality, but it'll be worth it.
4. Quit smoking for good.
If you're a smoker, quitting will make a massive difference in your sleep. Smoking affects sleep in several ways:
- It affects your deep, restorative sleep cycles, so you wake up feeling tired even after a full 8 hours of sleep.
- Since cigarettes contain nicotine, a potent stimulant, frequent smokers are likely to develop imsomnia.
- It disrupts your circadian rhythm, leading to poor sleep and increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
- Smokers are 2.5 times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
5. Spend less time on your phone.
Nearly everyone is glued to their phones nowadays! Unfortunately, the blue light emitted from your electronics tricks your circadian rhythm into thinking it’s daytime, which impacts your sleep quality and ability to fall asleep quickly at night.
Instead of scrolling through your phone or watching TV near your bedtime, wind down with relaxing activities or enjoy more face-to-face time with your friends and family. You'll find it much easier to fall asleep once you do!
6. Practice gratitude.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night because of endless thoughts running through your mind, practicing gratitude can relieve you of some anxiety and help you fall asleep faster. Simply take time at the end of your day to acknowledge at least three things you're thankful for, even if it's something as simple as a good hair day.
If you want to change it up, you can write these things down in a journal, talk to a friend, or express your gratitude through art (painting, drawing, photography).
Aside from better sleep, scientists have discovered more benefits of gratitude—it improves physical and psychological health, increases self-esteem, and enhances empathy.
7. Spend more time outdoors.
Getting enough sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm and increases your night-time melatonin levels, which helps you get sleepier in the evening.
Researchers found a link between natural sunlight and sleep quantity after studying workers in offices with and without windows. Compared to workers in windowless offices, those with windows received 173 percent more natural white light exposure during work hours and slept an average of 46 minutes more per night.
If you're far from a window for the majority of the day, a morning walk to your nearby park or simply taking a few minutes to soak in the sun from the comfort of your backyard can reap the benefits.
8. Learn how to meditate, and practice it regularly.
Meditation silences the mental chatter that keeps us up at night, so you can fall asleep faster. It even eases depression, pain, and high blood pressure.
Here are a few beginner's meditation videos that'll guide you into a peaceful mood:
9. Read before bedtime.
Reading is one of the best things you can do to prepare for sleep. In fact, a 2009 study proved that just six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68 percent, making it more relaxing than listening to music or drinking a cup of tea.
Whether it's a book, magazine, or even a cookbook, reading distracts the mind from daily stressors. Just try to avoid action/adventure novels that might stimulate you too much.
10. Invest more in your bedroom setup.
Whether you have a dingy, flat pillow or thin bed sheets that crinkle with every movement, investing more in your bedroom setup will definitely help you enjoy better sleep. Sleep is one of the most important factors in your health after all, so finding the right products to suit your sleeping preferences and create a peaceful environment is a worthwhile investment.
Some products to consider:
- Blackout Curtains
- Light Digital Alarm Clock
- Adjustable Memory Foam Pillow
- Waterproof Mattress Protector
- Sleep Sound Machine
To learn how our pillows can improve your sleep quality, click below: