Healthy Sleep Habits

Sleep is the single most important form of recovery that our body needs. The problem is that at times it can be difficult to get. We lead busy lives that require us to be constantly focusing on something new. When we have trouble falling asleep we get lower quality sleep and wake up later feeling groggy and lazy. Sometimes I wish that with a snap of my fingers I could clear my mind from the days problems and drift off into a relaxing deep sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy but there are tips and tricks that I have been using to help my body and mind relax before bed.  Let me start by talking about the importance of building healthy sleep habits.

The very first thing I did was build a sleep routine that allowed my body’s internal clock to understand when it was time to prepare for sleep and when to rise for the next day. This was important because it built a habit that my body eventually started to like and do naturally. At first it was hard to do, but it got easier the more I stuck with it. I also found some other things that helped make it easier to fall asleep early. 

I have noticed that when I exercise daily its easier for me to fall asleep at night. Every week I like to do at least three days of weight lifting or high intensity training and some form of cardio on the other days such as group classes or sprints. I’ve looked into the benefits of exercising to improve sleep and the common findings all say that its beneficial because it helps reduce stress and anxiety in the body. The release of chemicals in the body lead to a reduction in cortisol and an increase in serotonin which regulates mood. Stress is a common cause of sleep problems, including falling and staying asleep throughout the night. So, making time even if it’s just 30 mins every day is essential!

I’ve learned that if I drink caffeine after 2pm I will have more trouble sleeping at night. My mind seems to wander and think about the next day’s activities while trying to fall asleep. Honestly, I try avoiding caffeine as much as possible because I want natural all-day energy that doesn’t make me feel jittery or affect my ability to sleep. It’s also important in my opinion to avoid eating a large meal two hours before bed. Eating before bed doesn’t allow the body's energy to focus on healing the brain. The body's energy will be sent to the stomach to try and digest the food that was just eaten. This can be bad in many ways because as the energy is digesting the food it will also digest the sugars and carbs in your food which leads a short burst of energy. Creating more energy is counterintuitive at bed time for obvious reasons.

The biggest tip that I can give for falling asleep early at night would be to find something that helps you unwind before bed. An activity that helps clear the mind prepares the body for sleep. I like to either read or meditate before bed to clear my head and relax. The last thirty minutes before bed I make sure to avoid using my phone because I know that the light will affect my ability to produce melatonin which is what helps me feel tired. That goes for the TV too. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom so that I’m not tempted to turn it on before bed. I’m a big believer in using the bedroom for two things: sleep and sex.

If you still have trouble getting to sleep after these tips then I recommend trying some natural ways to relax the body. A couple of well researched supplements you could try are tryptophan, theanine, and ashwagandha. I recommend speaking with a professional physician before trying any of these supplements to make sure there aren’t any personal health complications or medications you are taking that could interact with the supplements. My opinion on these supplements will come in a future blog post. Please remember that these are my opinions and things that have worked for me in the past. If you have any other tips and tricks please feel free to share below!

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