If you currently get 8-9 hours of sleep, don't wake up in the middle of the night, and get up in the morning naturally feeling rested then we owe you some congratulatory applause. If you're the person shaking your head and saying "I wish!" to all of those things above then we've got you. Keep reading.
"Sleep is overrated" is actually one of the most overrated statements that exists. This is extremely false and just bad for your health. You need sleep to function.
Most healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, while older folks can get away with a little less, anyone under 65 shouldn't (National Sleep Foundation).
If you're not getting that many hours, you're setting yourself up for hormonal disruption, trouble losing weight and less energy (of course), among other things.
Here's some proven tips to enjoy some more ZZZZ's.
1. Reduce screen time before bed
While letting the phone fall on your face as you lay in bed and fall asleep may seem like a great way to end the night, it's actually setting you up for failure rather than success. The stimulation as well as the blue light from the screen is no good for your bodies natural rhythm. "When it gets dark in the evening, a part of the brain called the pineal gland secretes the hormone melatonin, which signals to our bodies and brains that it is time to get tired and go to sleep. Blue light, whether from the sun or a laptop, is very effective at inhibiting melatonin production" (Healthline). This also goes for the TV, iPad and any other device that emits blue light. Turn off screens at least an hour before bed and tell your body it's almost time to go to sleep.
2. Add more magnesium into your life
Magnesium is an essential mineral for proper bodily functions however, the body does not produce it on your own. You get magnesium from many foods that should be incorporated into the diet such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, real dark chocolate, coffee and a few additional veggies. If your diet is lacking in any of these foods, you may need to incorporate a magnesium supplement into your diet to ensure you're getting enough. According to Psychology Today, "Insomnia is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. People with low magnesium often experience restless sleep, waking frequently during the night. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels often leads to deeper, more sound sleep. Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep."
3. Create the optimal sleeping environment
The perfect sleeping environment is like a cave at night: cool, extremely dark and free from disturbing sounds. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature or ensure you change the blankets based on the temperature of the outside + inside. Your body likes a temperature somewhere below 70* for sleeping and naturally cools down as you get your slumber. Use black out curtains or a sleep mask to avoid having any light while you're sleeping and ensure pitch darkness. As well, block out any sounds such as a partners snoring or breathing, pets or any other disruptions by using either ear plugs or a sleep machine/white noise. You can find a great selection of sleep sounds on YouTube that last the whole night.
Exercising is a proven way to get better sleep. It has been shown that people who engage in activity during the day both report their sleep is good and do actually sleep better. This equation is two-fold: People who exercise regularly and vigorously overall maintain a healthier weight and have less disease are able to sleep better because of it. As well, exercise reduces stress which in turn helps you get some higher quality rest. The following graphic from the Huffington Post shows the sleep quality based on how people exercise. Just avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it can give you some energy you don't necessarily need before you wind down.
5. Add a bit of lavender to your pillow
The smell of lavender has been proven to increase sleep quality. "Lavender has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state. In one study, researchers monitored the brain waves of subjects at night and found that those who sniffed lavender before bed had more deep sleep and felt more vigorous in the morning. Another study of infants found that they cried less and slept more deeply after a bath with lavender scented oils" (Sleep Foundation). You can diffuse lavender in the room, sniff some essential oils before bed or place a drop on your pillow/sheets to get the full effects of this magical flower. A little bit goes a long way so a drop or two will do it for setting the stage for good sleep.
While one or some of these sleep suggestions will get you somewhere, a combo of all of them is optimal for that feeling of sleeping like a baby and waking up a bit more rested!