4 Ways You Can Sleep Better Naturally
*"ok, ok I'm up!"
This is about how my mornings have been going lately. Hit the snooze button on the alarm clock a few times and finally drag my sleep-deprived self out of bed to go get ready for work.
For me, there's no real good excuse - we don't have kids or anything and our dogs are extremely well-behaved and don't bother us at night, and really have an ideal sleeping situation. (Honestly, how do you parents ever get any sleep at all?? Respect!)
So, being the research-minded person that I am, I went in search of some help and wanted to share, because sleep.
I found 4 big things that can really be affecting our sleep, and what we can do about them. Bring on the zzzzzzzs!
1. Our circadian rhythms are out of whack. When we are getting up at different times every day, we are really throwing our natural circadian rhythms for a loop. Not only that, but a 2016 study from the Northwestern University in Chicago found that varying bedtimes at night caused cardiovascular disturbances. The fix: Pick a bedtime and stick to it. Your body will adjust to this new time and it will become your new normal. For me, this means not staying up a few hours later on the weekends just because I can sleep in the next day. Bonus-not sleeping in on Saturdays gives me so much more productive time!
2. We are going to bed way too late. Most people will feel the best by going to bed before 10:30 and waking up earlier. This keeps you more in line with your natural cortisol cycles. When your cortisol is low, it helps keep your mind from racing so you are able to fall asleep more easily. Most adults' levels will fall sometime around 10:30 and you'll naturally start to get sleepy. The fix: If you start getting tired, don't fight it, just go to bed! Its better to go to bed early and wake up earlier than the other way around.
3. Our screens are really cramping our sleep style. The light from the screen really throws off our brain balancing that allows us to sleep easily. The science behind this is fascinating - when we look at screens all day, it fires the right side of the brain. This is the part of the brain that deals with stress, fight or flight, and anxiety, and by staring at screens all day, we are overstimulating all of these responses. The fix: As archaic as it sounds, reading (an actual paper book) fires the opposite side of the brain that we need to get sleepy. Before bed, put down your dang phone and read a book for 20 minutes. I guarantee you'll be ready for bed.
4. Your mattress might suck. When you have a crappy mattress, all of the problems with your body are amplified overnight while you sleep. Bad back? Its going to be worse with a bad bed. Neck pain? Guess what's going to keep you from getting the rest you need? Before we actually decided to invest in good mattresses, I would wake up in the middle of the night all the time with back pain and be forced out of bed because it hurt too much to lay down anymore. The fix: Get a new mattress We ended up getting Casper mattresses, and we haven't looked back! If your budget is a little higher, I've actually heard great things about Intellibed, especially compared to Tempurpedic. (And as a bonus, they are nontoxic!)