I had an awful case of insomnia the other night, and realized I should write a post about one of my favorite things: sleep! Sleeping is vital for your mental and physical help, but is often undervalued in modern culture. Here are some tips to help you get the rest you need!
Stick to a schedule
Full disclosure: I don’t know anyone under 40 who actually has a consistent sleep schedule, myself included (though I wish I did!) You really should be going to bed and waking up within the same hour window. For example, on workdays you could sleep from 10pm-6am, and on weekends you could push it to 11pm-7am. The benefit of sticking to a schedule is that your body becomes “trained” to sleep at the same time every night, leading to easier rest. While ideal, I recognize this isn’t very practical! Instead, staying within a two hour window is a reasonable compromise.
Clock enough hours
The jury’s still out on what truly counts as “enough” sleep for adults. The most common recommendation I see is 7-9 hours a night. However, one of my professors in undergrad was a sleep specialist, and he asserted sleep isn’t quite so “one size fits all.” It’s more likely that some people can get by on 4-5 hours of sleep, while other may need as many as 10 to feel fully rested. Do what feels right to you!
Adjust your environment
Your bedroom should be like a cave–cool, dark, and quiet–to ensure the best sleep quality. If you share a room, utilize an eye mask and/or earplugs to help create this “cave” effect. Personally, I love a slightly chilly room so I can get bundled up in blankets.
Use screen filters
Most articles say to avoid screens (cell phones, tvs, etc.) entirely for a couple hours before bed. Good advice, but nobody follows it! Install a blue light filter on your devices (I like f.lux) and you can keep using your phone all night. These apps filter out bright, blue light and give your screen more of a reddish tint. This works because your brain interprets the bluer light as daylight, which can mess up your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep.
Get into a routine
My bedtime routine is one of my favorite parts of my day (self-care!). I always do skincare, brushing, and flossing right before bed. These healthy habits happen to be soothing for me, making me more relaxed by the time I lay down. Finishing with a lavender scented hand lotion makes this ultra-luxurious and extra relaxing. A routine is also beneficial for sleep because it signals your brain that it’s time to start winding down.
Keep anything you may need in the middle of the night (water, lip balm, a notepad, whatever) on your bedside table. That way, you’ll be able to attend to your needs without rummaging around your house. This limits the amount of “waking up” you do and lets you get back to sleep faster.
Stay out of your bed
Your bed should only be used for sleep and sex. Not Netflix, or dinner, or homework. You want your brain to associate being in bed with sleeping! Some people can get away with a “multipurpose bed,” but if you notice you have trouble falling asleep, avoid your bed until it’s actually bedtime.
Still can’t get enough?
If you think you’re sleeping enough, but still feel exhausted all the time, you should see a doctor. Chronic fatigue can be a sign of a variety of concerns, including depression.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, and nothing in this post is intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment.