The importance of good sleep cannot be understated. Studies show our cognition, psychology, and biology are all affected by the quality and quantity of our sleep. Lack of good sleep has been linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and dementia among other things. Even our stress levels are higher when sleep-deprived.
Here are a few daily habits to help you wind down and set yourself up for better sleep.
1- Eat dinner early and keep it light. Preferably finish dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime, so your food can be completely digested before you lie down. Also, either eat a very small portion, or just eat soup. Our digestive fire isn’t as strong in the evening, so we don’t need as much food. Of course this will mean you need to eat a bigger lunch since digestive fire is hottest midday, and you don’t want to be starving at dinner.
2- Have a bedtime. AND stick to it. There’s a condition dubbed “social jet lag” by German researcher, Till Roennenberg. It refers to the shift of sleeping hours between the weekend and weekdays, although social jet lag can happen any given night when we force ourselves to stay awake. Shifting sleep hours can take up to a week to recover from sleep-wise (think about how you feel during the week after daylight savings time.) Sleeping in is not only overrated, it’s not good for you.
3- Turn off the electronics about an hour before bed, and dim the lights, too. I know, I know, Netflix has a lot of good shows right now, and you don’t want to miss what your favorite IG influencer has to say, but this habit is an important one. Blue light inhibits sleep by disrupting Circadian rhythms. Lower light also signals the pineal gland to produce and release melatonin. Besides, reading the news feeds before bed can send you into stress-mode prohibiting you from relaxing enough to get to sleep.
4- Have a wind-down routine. Since you don’t have electronics, what are you going to do with an hour? This gift of time can be used for your self-care. Take a bubble bath, massage your feet, do some yoga (gentle only, please), meditate, read a real book. Choose some things that will nourish your mind, body, and soul. Enjoy how nice it feels to take care of you.