Do you wake up exhausted, or even worse, toss and turn while becoming increasingly frustrated that you can’t doze off? Does your mind race with the past days worries or plans for the day ahead? Maybe you need to clean up your sleep! Following healthy sleep habits can make the difference between a horrible night’s sleep and restful slumber. Research has identified a number of practices and habits, known as “sleep hygiene” or “clean sleep,” that can help maximize the hours we spend sleeping and in turn, support beautiful skin. Listed below are six top tips for healthy sleep.
Avoid Caffeine & Alcohol
Okay, not drinking coffee before bed may be a no-brainer but alcohol too? Many people realize that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which is why we seem to get so sleepy after a drink. But after it circulates in our systems for awhile the tables are turned on the “chill” factor. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a few hours after we consume alcohol, it actually acts as a stimulant, “increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing the quality of sleep later in the night.” Therefore, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol within three hours of bedtime to avoid rebound insomnia.
Going to Bed Doesn’t Mean Work, or Snacks…it Means SLEEP or SEX
How many times in the past have you seen a post on social media platforms about your friends heading off to bed to watch the game and have a snack or, worse yet, to get on the computer to work. Ick! Who wants crumbs in our bed keeping us awake or the last thought before trying to fall asleep the project deadline we are trying to meet or the horrible scene we just saw on the news? The bedroom should be about fun and relaxing things like sleeping and, of course, sex. The environment should be cool, dark, uncluttered, comfortable and free of noise as much as possible. The use of relaxing, non-vocal music or a “white noise” appliance may help as well. The key to healthy sleep habits is to strengthen your mental association between your bedroom and sleep, not working, eating or watching TV. When you walk in to your bedroom, how does it make you feel? Relaxed? Tense?! What could you add, or take away that might help your bedroom be more tranquil.
Also, as a side note, if a you have a noisy, French Bulldog (we are not naming names), that snores all night long, you may want to reconsider allowing him or her to sleep next to you or even in the same room. Sorry Fido, we need our sleep too!
Relaxing Pre-Sleep Plan
One of the most simple ways to prepare for a good night’s rest is to relax in a warm bath or shower. The rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness and a better night’s sleep. Read a book, practice relaxation exercises but, most of all, avoid stressful, stimulating activities. “Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness.” (Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School)
Essential oils can play a key role in pre-sleep relaxation too. Add pure lavender essential oil to your bath or spray your pillow with a pure lavender linen spray to induce a restful, relaxing atmosphere.
Consistency is the Key
Does it really matter if we wake up at the same time every day? Yes it does! Because our bodies follow a circadian rhythm, consistency is the key. According to Dr. Brandon Peters, M.D., “Anchoring your wake time in place is a cue to your body about when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.” Waking up and actually getting out of bed at the same time every day will help you to sleep better and feel more rested.
It is also important that when your alarm goes off you actually get up and get going. Remember, consistency is the key! If you are a snooze button addict, try putting your alarm clock across the room. When you alarm goes off, get up and stay up for the sake of better sleep to come!
Eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream or a slice of pepperoni pizza right before bed may asking for a restless night. Make sure your last meal is at least three hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion such as spicy or greasy foods . If you get hungry for a snack, munch on foods that won’t disrupt your sleep, such a foods high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid, that makes us sleepy (milk or bananas).
If you have ever worked out, you know the amazing feeling you have after your exercise routine is complete. This amazing feeling is due to, once again, the release of cortisol. Now imagine that feeling at 11 p.m. when you are trying to fall asleep. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed or work out earlier in the day. Exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly—as long as it’s done at the right time.
What tips for better sleep do you use? Share below, we would love to hear from you!
P.S. In case you are wondering about that noisy little French Bulldog mentioned above, her name is Esmee and boy does she snore!