Sleep is a crucial but underappreciated part of a healthy lifestyle. In America, less than half of the population reports getting an adequate amount or quality of sleep. This troubling statistic leads us to one conclusion: we need better sleep habits.
With the introduction of smartphones and other devices connected to the internet, our sleep quality has dropped dramatically. The bedtime routine has taken a backseat to streaming content, browsing the web, and catching up with friends on social media. The blue light from electronic devices actually prevents a good night’s rest!
With all of the sleep problems, there has to be a solution. Luckily for you, we know just how to help. Here are five practices for building better sleep habits.
1. Pray or Meditate Before Sleep
Using meditation or prayer to help sleep can help put the mind at ease just before bedtime. Prayer and meditation are both therapeutic in their own way, and both can be combined for a truly relaxing experience. Many people find that prayer helps them connect with a higher power while allowing them to unload some of their stress. Meditation helps you focus on the self, on the moment, rather than on your stressors.
Prayer and meditation have been used for centuries all over the world to address trauma, solve problems, and, of course, provide a better night’s rest. Both prayer and mediation have different effects on everyone, but most people that use either to help them sleep report positive results.
Even if you’re not exactly religious or into meditation and other spiritual practices, you can try one or the other. Pray to whoever or whatever you want. When you meditate, you can focus on anything you want to. Just remember to do it before bed!
2. Eat Well
Diet does not get enough attention when it comes to the topic of sleep. A good diet can have far-reaching effects on the body, and likewise, a poor diet can, too—but in a negative way. What you eat can determine the overall health of your mind and body, and may be keeping you up at night.
If you’re eating good, healthy foods, your body will be much more cooperative when it comes to natural rhythms like sleep. Many people eat fatty, sugary, or carb-rich foods right up until they go to bed—a practice that can not only produce negative sleep patterns, but also cause weight gain, cardiac issues, and more. The bottom line? It’s time to ditch the junk food, especially right before bedtime.
If you want to snack before bed, choose healthy, lean foods like leafy green vegetables or fruits, or drink water instead. Water is a natural appetite suppressant and something that’s absolutely necessary for the proper function of the body.
3. Stick To A Routine
Jumping into your bed with your phone in your hand is probably the worst way to fall asleep. Most of us go to bed whenever we feel like it, but it’s important to stick to some kind of routine for success. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help your body and mind fall into a rhythm. If you include such things as prayer, meditation, or quiet time before bed, your body will get used to it and expect it; leading to healthier, more satisfying sleep.
It’s a good idea to try reading a book before bed instead of scrolling through Facebook or browsing the web. Books have a way of calming the mind, reducing stress, and have many positive effects on the brain. A good book can help you get comfortable in bed and fall asleep quicker.
4. Stress Management
This area is where so many of us fall so terribly short. Stress management, unfortunately, isn’t something we’re taught in school. And, if our parents weren’t great at it themselves, they couldn’t exactly teach us. We’ve been largely forced to learn to manage stress on our own, but that hasn’t been successfully done with everyone.
It’s not that stress management is difficult, per se, it’s that it’s different for everyone. Everyone has different stressors and reactions to stress, which means that certain techniques don’t work the same way on everyone.
It’s important to find the right stress management techniques for you. Think about the things that calm you down. Soft music? The touch of a lover? The voice of a loved one? You can always make a phone call before bed, or snuggle with a loved one to reduce the day’s stress.
5. Buy Quality Items
That’s right—it’s time to ditch the department store mattress you’ve had for ten years and buy yourself a quality mattress to sleep on. Too many people aren’t using the right mattresses, which leads to back pain and lost sleep. The right mattress might very well cost thousands of dollars, but like anything else, you get what you pay for with mattresses.
Research the type of mattress you might want. Memory foam? Adjustable? Spring? Don’t be afraid to venture out to furniture stores, test them out, and speak to the experts. Trust us on this one—a good mattress makes a huge difference in sleep health.
Getting better sleep is critical to both physical and mental health, but it’s going to take some effort on your part to get there. Whether you’re adopting a new routine, buying a new mattress, or finding new ways to destress, getting a better night’s sleep should always be at the top of your priority list.