The Science of Sleep: 5 Ways To Get A Better Night's Rest
A number of people report having difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep because their mind races non-stop. They might be thinking about how their day went, what went right or wrong, or they could be mapping out tomorrow’s events.
The demands of the modern world max out our calendars. And that means more responsibilities, more tasks, more errands, and more pressure. We spend less time in nature, with family, resting, and restoring than ever before. It’s no wonder sleep issues are becoming the ‘norm’.
Yet, there’s hope. There’s always hope for a better day, a better tomorrow, and a better night’s sleep. And the strategies we’re about to share on how to get better sleep, are backed by science and ancient wisdom.
Let’s check them out!
1. Avoid screens at least 1 hour before bed
Sometimes the easiest way to end the night, and tune out the rest of the world is to get lost in a funny show, or Netflix movie. Or maybe you like to catch up on the latest news.
To be honest, this time of the day feels like a welcomed relief. A time to tune everything out and veg. By the evening, many of us feel exhausted and need a much-needed break, right?
But turning on the news, a show, or a movie right before bed disturbs our circadian rhythm. This is our sleep-wake cycle, which mirrors the pattern of the sun.
Our bodies are hard-wired to wake up when the sun rises, and wind down at night during sunset. The blue light from screens disrupts this rhythm because it suppresses melatonin, a chemical our body produces to help us fall asleep.
Also, the light tricks the body into thinking it’s still daytime, adding one more hurdle that stands in our way of getting good quality, restful sleep.
2. Avoid late-night snacking
You may have heard this tip as a weight-loss strategy. Yet, it’s also very relevant for adequate sleep. When you eat late at night, even something small and healthy, you’re giving your digestive system more work to do.
Not only does the digestive system slow down at night, making it harder and longer to digest, eating late requires your digestive system to work while you’re trying to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Rest is the time for restoration. When we fall asleep for 7, 8, or 9 hours at a time, that rest gives our organs and systems a chance to reset. A chance to recover from a long day “on the job.” However, when you eat before bed, your body has to digest that food. And that action puts your ‘reset function’ on the backburner. As such, it’s more challenging to fall asleep.
3. Stretch, meditate, breathe or do all 3
Lay on your rug, roll out your yoga mat, sit on your bed, and stretch. Stretch whatever area or areas feel tense and tight. You can also put your legs up on the wall (Viparita Karani yoga pose) and keep them there for 5 to 10 minutes. This improves circulation and increases blood flow. In turn, you feel more relaxed, a bit sleepy, and ready for a good night’s rest.
If you prefer something besides stretching, you can listen to a mediation track from a popular mobile phone app, like Calm or Insight Timer. Then there’s the option to do a deep breathing exercise. This calms the autonomic nervous system and shifts you from a state of stress into a state of “rest and restore.”
4. Drink a nighttime tea
There’s a reason why millions of people around the world love a cup of tea. It’s soothing, aromatic, comforting, and tastes wonderful. When you give yourself the benefits of herbal tea (non-caffeinated) at night, not only is it a beautiful bedtime ritual, it can help you sleep.
Some nighttime tea options include chamomile, passionflower, tulsi (holy basil), or golden milk tea. These teas have the ability to melt away stress, by helping your body and mind relax.
5. Take a supplement with relaxing properties
This can be a tincture, an adaptogen, plant medicine, whatever calls to you. Examples like ashwagandha, valerian root, cannabidiol (CBD), and melatonin are great starting points.
These herbs can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and increase the amount of deep sleep you get each night.
Whatever you choose, feel empowered knowing you have many natural options for getting a better night’s rest. You got this!