No matter what your overall health and wellness goals are for the coming year, sleep plays a foundational role. Getting enough sleep helps with weight loss, muscle gain, cognitive focus, and stress relief. In other words, before you buy that new gym membership or enroll in a professional development course, you should aim to improve your sleep habits.
Here are five proven habits to help you sleep better at night so you can take on the world.
Turn Down the Temperature
While you might like to keep your home warm and toasty, especially during the winter months, the body rests better at a cooler temperature. The ideal sleep temperature is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit.
When your body goes into a state of rest, it’s designed to drop its core temperature slightly. Decreasing the temperature in your room will help signal to your body that it’s time to relax and unwind and prevent you from getting overheated during the night.
Invest in a High-Quality Mattress
If you’re still on the same mattress from a decade ago, you’re well overdue for an upgrade. Set aside some time to do research and choose the right mattress for your sleep style, living situation, and body type.
Most people find success with a medium-firm mattress. Side sleepers require something slightly softer, while back and stomach sleepers require extra support. Similarly, people with heavier bodies need something firmer, while people with lighter bodies need more give. Choosing a medium-firm or hybrid mattress is ideal for co-sleepers, as you can always add a few supportive pillows as needed.
Unplug from Screens
Excess screen time has a plethora of negative effects on one’s sleep schedule. If you have your phone handy in bed, you’re more likely to scroll than to sleep. Access to the internet can also cause an increase in stress before bed, which impacts sleep quality. Finally, the blue lights from screens signal daylight to our sometimes primitive brains rather than allowing our bodies to settle in the dark.
Set a goal to unplug from screen time an hour before bed. It may take time to build this habit, so start by putting your phone in another room or on airplane mode to block signals.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
There’s nothing inherently wrong about eating before bed— you shouldn’t skip canapes at a party for a good night’s sleep— but it shouldn’t be a habit. When you eat within the two hours before bedtime, your digestive system kicks in and comes fully awake. As such, your body won’t be ready to really rest for a while.
This issue is also a concern for those who suffer from indigestion and heartburn, as laying down after eating makes it easier for stomach acid to hit the upper digestive tract.
Use Ambient Noise
Even the quietest homes make noise throughout the evening. While you may not remember waking up to creaks and cracks, sometimes your brain becomes alert. This, like the issue with lights from screens, is a part of your primitive brain that protects you from danger. To prevent your lizard brain from thinking an attacker is entering your cave, plug in a fan or use a white noise machine to create a consistent, calm environment.
With these simple habits, you can start to improve the quality of your sleep, making it easier to reach your goals in the coming year.