If you have trouble nodding off, try these sleep hacks and evening routines to improve your sleep on World Sleep Day
World Sleep Day takes place on Friday 18 March and is intended to celebrate all things sleep. This year’s theme is Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World. Sleep doesn’t always come easily, though, and lots of factors can stop us from getting those all-important zzzs at night. From temperature to timing, these tips aim to improve your sleep and have you snoozing soundly.
1. Create your schedule
According to Dr Conor Heneghan, Fitbit’s Lead Sleep Research Scientist, being mindful of the recommended guidelines for sleep is a great first step but it’s also important that you consider the other aspects of your daily lifestyle that might affect how well you sleep. Getting to bed at a consistent hour every single night may be a difficult task but it’s another essential part of a healthy sleep routine.
Your body and brain thrive on routine and part of what sets that routine is a consistent sleep schedule. During sleep, your body releases hormones that regulate how your body operates. These hormones allow us to wind down for sleep at night and make us more alert and energized in the morning. The more regular your sleep schedule is, the better your body becomes at keeping those hormones in balance, ultimately resulting in a better and more restful sleep. Start being conscious about sleep by setting a sleep schedule.
2. Adjust your environment
Dr Conor also recommends making some adjustments to where you sleep. So, if you want to improve the quality and duration of your sleep, changing your environment is a great place to start. If possible, you should always aim to sleep in total darkness but if that’s not possible and you’re comfortable to do so, try wearing an eye mask. You should also aim to sleep in total silence.
3. Ensure to exercise
One of the best things you can do for your sleep happens long before your head hits the pillow and that’s ensuring you are active throughout the day. Activity promotes healthy levels of many hormones and other chemicals in the body, which in turn is believed to promote healthy sleep. Dr Conor advices that if you’re using a smart device, aim for 22 minutes daily as recommended by the World Health Organisation, or if you have a Fitbit you should target 150 Active Zone Minutes each week. Active Zone Minutes counts your time spent in any heart pumping activity and helps you stay motivated with on-wrist notifications as well as recognising how hard you are working with personalised heart rate zones based on your age and fitness level.
4. Practice mindfulness and unwind
Meditation produces a restful state that displays different brain-wave activity than sleep, but it can help you sleep better. There’s no consensus among researchers, but of course meditation has other benefits, so it is always worth trying. Meditation sets off a slew of changes in the body that is way more effective than counting sheep at promoting dozing off. Studies have proven that people who practice mindfulness meditation experience sleep quality improvement on par with those seen from using other proven sleep treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy or relaxation training.
5. Say No to Screens Before Bed
The evening hours might seem like the perfect time to binge-watch TV, catch up on the day’s news, or scroll through your social media feeds. But if you want to get better sleep, it’s important to disconnect from screens well before bedtime. The stimulation you get from engaging in screens can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep and the light emitted from those screens can be damaging to your sleep cycles. If you want to make it easier to fall asleep at night, disengage from all screens and electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, try reading a book until you’re feeling drowsy enough to turn off the light.
6. Introduce bananas and tea
According to BWell CBD, TikTok has plenty of sleep hacks to share. The wellness brand rounded up some of the best and apparently, by tucking into a banana not long before you go to bed, they stimulate the production of those key brain calming hormones and produce that soothing energy so you can enjoy some good quality sleep. Bananas are packed with magnesium and potassium, helping your mind relax as well as your muscles.
It’s no wonder that so many of us choose to relax with a warming cup of tea in hand before we head up to bed, enjoying the process of letting our bodies unwind as we transition into rest mode after a busy day. Chamomile tea is particularly effective for drifting off into a quality sleep so put some water on the boil and switch out your regular cuppa for a calming chamomile.
7. Gentle massage to help you drift off
Although this may appear to be an unusual hack, according to the BWell CBD TikTok tips, rubbing the ridge behind your ear creates an acupressure movement so simply rub the area in a circular motion around 100 to 200 times. The end result? Calming your nervous system to help you get ready for a great night of sleep in no time.
Another place to encourage relaxation is he feet – with thousands of nerves in the feet alone, they are one of the best points to massage in order to help you drift off. Lie on your back so you can comfortably reach your feet and rub the sole of your foot between the base of your second toe and your heel. Use a firm pressure and focus on this spot for two minutes, using both circular and up-and-down motions.
Main photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels