If you saw the post last week about exercise and meditation preparations for sleep, we have already started to talk about some ways to support falling asleep. Again, getting exercise and meditating regularly can help prepare your body for sleep by changing your circulation and muscle activity. Altering your mental state with meditation can help calm your mind and body for sleep as well. Beyond these two activities, there are other techniques you can take to prepare for bed and your ideal night’s sleep.
- Lower caffeine intake
To start off lets briefly mention the one we all know we need to do. If you are still having high amounts of caffeine and having trouble sleeping, falling asleep, or staying asleep, you probably already know that you should reduce your caffeine intake. Some easier options for doing this is to make sure you stop having caffeine after a certain time of the day, for instance, none after noon. Another option is to switch from coffee to black tea. This itself will cut your caffeine intake in half. Do also pay attention to the sugar you are adding to your coffee/tea as this may also have an impact on reducing your quality of sleep.
- Turn down your lights
This makes a huge difference for me. About two hours before bed I start to turn down my overhead lights, putting on less strong floor and table lamps. This helps your eyes to start to adjust to the lower light and signal to the brain that it is time to get ready for sleep. You can probably imagine that this follows the idea of sleeping with the setting sun. While most of us do not need 12+ hours of sleep during the winter, our bodies know how to adjust our energy levels in relation to light.
- Turn off screens
Screens make a big difference just as light does. For myself, when I look at my phone or computer it then takes me a good 30 minutes more to fall asleep. Don’t text me late at night! I try to reduce my screen usage starting at about an hour before I want to go to sleep. I start this by turning my computer off as soon as I can. Some evenings I am even successful at turning off my computer after dinner and try to use my phone only infrequently in the evening. Just like with lights, but more intense, looking at screens can reduce your ability to fall asleep.
- Don’t eat before bed
Eating before bed may not be something you first think of as effecting your sleep. When you eat, your body sends blood and energy to your digestive system to support the breakdown of food. This focus takes away from the mental relaxation and physical relaxation that is needed to occur for ideal sleep. When your body is working to digest food it cannot be putting it’s focus into resting and healing. Note: some foods can encourage sleep. For some individuals who have a gluten sensitivity they may notice an easier time falling asleep when eating gluten prior to sleeping.
- Do drink water before bed
Some people do not like to drink fluids before bed so they do not have to get up and urinate while sleeping. This may be one technique and drinking water can have other benefits that may outweigh the few minutes of wakefulness to use the bathroom. As I mentioned above, your body spends the time we are sleeping healing. This healing process is only enhanced when the body is properly hydrated. The hydration also helps to rid the body of toxins and waste products through urination when you awake. These reasons can really help you feel more refreshed when you awake in the morning.