Sleep is one of the most important things in our lives. While we’re sleeping, our brain processes information from the past day. But that’s not the only reason sleep is good for us. It also has a positive impact on our creativity, focus and even our weight.
Unfortunately, we often don’t take sleeping seriously enough, or just fail to achieve a proper night’s sleep. During my college years I rarely had more than 6 hours of sleep and often had to pull all-nighters. My habits didn’t really improve after I graduated and a few months into my first job I started noticing the bad side effects of my unhealthy lifestyle.
Luckily my habits have changed by now, and I figured out how to improve my sleep quality. These days I feel less tired, more focused, more productive and most of all, I feel way happier. Here’s a list with tips on how you can improve your sleep as well.
1. No more coffee
In December 2015 I had to give coffee and other caffeinated drinks a break because of health reasons. After a week of crazy withdrawal – yes, coffee withdrawal is a thing – I immediately noticed the positive effects of living caffeine-free. Not only was I less stressed during the day, my sleep also improved drastically. I’ve never touched a cup of coffee since then, which is doing wonders. If you’re not ready to give up your coffee, I’d recommend having your last cup around lunch time. The later during the day you drink coffee, the worse your sleep will be.
2. Herbal teas
I totally love herbal teas, they don’t contain any caffeine and come in many different flavours. The perfect bedtime tea is definitely chamomile, which has a calming effect on both body and mind. Some people don’t like its distinctive taste, but it mixes really well with other herbal teas such as rooibos. It’s also really easy to make your own herbal tea from any herbs or spices you have in your kitchen.
Every other day I do a 60 minute yoga routine at home, and once a week I practice hot yoga at the local yoga studio. It’s my favourite type of exercise, mainly because it improves back pain and has awesome effects on my mood. It’s not a good idea to go for an intense workout right before bedtime, as it will probably make you feel more awake. However, there are plenty of good bedtime yoga routines out there to help you sleep.
4. Make it dark
Try to block out as much light as possible. My environment has to be pitch dark for me to sleep properly. Unfortunately, in Norway the sun sets late and rises early during summer, which means I often wake up just a few hours after going to bed. A while ago I installed light blocking curtains in my bedroom, and I haven’t woken up in the middle of the night ever since. There’s no light coming into the bedroom at all, and I’m in complete darkness from the moment I turn off the lights until after I’ve woken up.
5. Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle is an app for iOS and Android that uses noise detection to track your sleep. The app will wake you up within a certain timeframe, based on how deep you are in your sleep. Being woken up in deep sleep will leave you more tired. Every night you can also add notes, and the app will then show statistics on how certain activities influence your sleep. This can help you cut out habits that make your sleep worse.
Many people recommend meditation in the evening because it makes you feel relaxed and because it reduces stress. Personally, I think any type of relaxation before bedtime will improve your sleep. Meditation doesn’t always work for me, so I often read, listen to music or do nothing at all. Doing a set of breathing exercises can be helpful as well.
7. Airplane mode
Half an hour before going to bed I put my phone on airplane mode. Often I don’t even bring my phone, or other electronic devices, to the bedroom. Having some offline time definitely reduces stress and it’s a good idea to give your eyes some rest before falling asleep.