I’m pretty sure I won’t have to tell you just HOW important a good night’s sleep is for our health and well-being. Did you know that up until the age of 19 (!) we should actually sleep even more than the recommended 8 hours per night? After years and years of struggling to stay awake during math classes at school and programming lectures at uni I eventually realized that sleep is indeed a darn good idea if you wanna get your shit done. Plus it actually helps a lot with studying and learning new things. Ever since sleep is one of the few things I would never sacrifice no matter how busy I am. So here are my 8 tips to get a good night’s rest and start your day fresh and ready to tackle anything:
1. Make sleep a priority
As always it starts with your mindset: For many people sleeping is what they’re going to do when absolutely everything else is done. And that’s just not enough. Block 8 hours a night to give your body the rest it needs. Your body and brain are super busy while you’re asleep repairing damages, adding new information to your neural network and so on. Just because you don’t notice these processes are going on it doesn’t mean they’re not vital to our health. Exceptions to this 8 hour sleep rule should really be just that: exceptions.
2. Create a calm space to sleep in
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before: make sure your bedroom is a place that encourages sleep. Some people prefer it to be completely dark, I personally can’t stand this and need some natural light in the morning. Some people love falling asleep to the sound of a dish washer. Whatever floats your boat. Just make sure your room is free of distractions and allows you to relax and feel at ease. Always make sure that the temperature is right for you and to let some fresh air in before you go to sleep.
3. Establish a sleep routine
Following a similar routine every night before you go to bed will signal your brain that it’s time to wind down now. This routine will usually involve getting ready for bed but can pretty much include any calm activity such as taking a bath or enjoying a hot drink (without caffeine obviously). I usually start my night routine by turning off my computer and turning on a relaxing Spotify sleep playlist on my phone. I will then get rid of my makeup, brush my teeth and grab a glass of water to put on my bedside table. If I’m not too tired I’ll indulge in reading a chapter or two of A Song of Ice and Fire until I turn off the light.
4. Get your to dos off your mind
Make sure you write down your to dos for the next day, figure out when you have to set your alarm and plan your morning in advance. This includes things such as what you’re going to have for breakfast, the outfit you’re going to wear and the train you’ll have to catch. Getting everything sorted the night before will help you rest easy as you don’t have to worry that you might forget something.
5. Stay away from screens
Now that’s a tough one, I know. Studies have shown that the blueish light coming from computer, phone and tablet screens can wake us up and make falling asleep harder. I’m totally guilty of not taking my own advice here as I often find myself instagramming and whatsapping in bed. That’s alright as long as you can still fall asleep afterwards. If you do have trouble falling asleep though it might be well worth it to turn off your screens an hour before you go to sleep. If you’re like me and you’re still trying to squeeze more work into your day at 10 pm try going for tasks that don’t require a screen like cleaning your dishes or laying out your outfit for the next day.
6. Relaxation, meditation and the sound of rain
If you can’t stop thinking about everyday problems or are generally having trouble falling asleep you might want to try a guided relaxation or meditation. There are thousands of them available on YouTube and Spotify and they can work wonders in terms of helping you get rid of worries and calming you down. If a voice whispering into your ear while you’re lying in bed is not your cup of tea you might want to try calming nature sounds. I noticed that the sound of rain on a tent will knock me out no matter what. This has also proven to be a lifesaver in noisy environments such as hostel rooms or on a bus. Just make sure to turn the phone upside-down or cover the screen because… see tip no. 5.
7. Find your natural sleeping rhythm
Apparently there are night owls and early birds and people like me who are somewhere in between. However, you might actually not be the type you think you are. I personally feel best when I go to sleep at around 11 and get up at around 7 to 8. I will feel awake, I’ll be able to focus on my tasks and I will fall asleep within minutes after turning off the lights at night. However, if I don’t make an effort to maintain this sleeping rhythm it will automatically start shifting towards 2 am to 10 am. That doesn’t happen because I’m actually secretly a night owl, it happens because it’s just way too easy to keep scrolling through Instagram until 2 am and to stay curled up in bed in the morning. This will leave me feeling drowsy during the day and will cause me to wake up during the night. Make sure you find the sleeping rhythm that actually makes you feel best and most productive and put some effort into maintaining it. This also means getting up roughly at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
8. Things to avoid for a good night’s sleep
Try to stay away from large meals right before going to sleep but also don’t go to bed with an empty stomach. If you’re feeling hungry around bedtime try eating something light and healthy like a banana or some porridge. Staying hydrated is very important but limit your fluid intake a little before going to sleep so you don’t have to go to the bathroom during the night.
Avoid naps and caffeine in the late afternoon and evening. Same goes for long naps of more than an hour in general as they will keep you from feeling sleepy when it’s time to go to bed.
What helps you sleep better? Let me know in the comments!