How to Sleep Better | 5 Natural Tips
If you want to lose weight, perform better or just show up as your best self every day, learning how to sleep better may not be the first strategy that comes to mind. Well, let’s change that!
Sleep is a topic that goes a bit unloved in the world of health and fitness. I mean, everybody loves a good sleep but it doesn’t get a lot of air time. I believe this is because we really want to take action when it comes to improving our health (never a bad thing!). Eating healthy and moving every day feels awesome – like you’re out there makin’ it happen. Sleep, on the other hand, feels a bit inactive. Literally!
Well, let me say that when you’re eating right, moving and backing it up with awesome sleep – that is where *the* magic happens, friend!
Once you master how to sleep better, SO many things can naturally fall into place. I’m talking blood sugar control, effortless weight loss, willpower, mental performance…the list goes on. AND you just get to be a happier human 🙂
So if you want to learn some actionable tips and tricks for a better night’s sleep, read on. When you’re done, why not pick a tip and try it tonight!
p.s. If you prefer to watch our tips for better sleep – head to the bottom of this article for the YouTube video!
#1 – After Sunset, Limit Your Exposure to Blue Light
Blue light has become a hot topic of research, and if you’re wondering how to sleep better – listen up!
Light may seem pretty harmless, but it’s actually a powerful cue that allows our bodies to distinguish between night and day. We have, after all, adapted to our environment over many thousands of years!
To get a quick understanding of what blue light is, remember that the visible light spectrum is made up of many different wavelengths or colours of light. Natural daylight is in fact made up of the entire spectrum of light, including blue light. When blue light enters our retina, it signals our brain to suppress the production of melatonin – our sleep-inducing hormone. To put it simply, blue light tells our body that it’s day time!
Now, the light emitted from our devices actually has a higher concentration of blue light than natural daylight. So if you use your devices and TV into the evening (seriously, who doesn’t!?), turns out you’re actually sending your body some pretty strange messages. As a result, your circadian rhythm or ‘internal clock’ may reset or shift forwards. This means that regardless of how many hours you spend in bed, you’ll get a poorer night’s rest with less of that great, restorative REM phase sleep.
And if that wasn’t enough – besides a bad night’s sleep, recent studies have also shown that shifts in our circadian rhythm can have further negative effects on health as our ‘internal clock’ also controls the function of our organs. (1)
Now…I hear what you’re saying. It’s not always possible to stay off the tech at night. Maybe you don’t even want to! Well, fear not – I have solutions!
If you watch TV at night, wearing blue light glasses can significantly reduce your blue light exposure. Are they the most glamorous specs in the world? Ha. No. But honestly, if you can’t look a bit dorky in your own living room, where can you? 😛
On the laptop, I’d highly recommend installing this handy software called f.lux. It’s totally free, and makes the colour of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day in your area. This means that your display will emit less blue light after sunset. Genius.
As far as phones go, the latest updates on the iPhone actually incorporate a similar feature to f.lux. There are also a handful of blue light apps available for android devices. If you have any recommendations, drop a comment below!
#2 – Avoid Overstimulation Before Bed
Similar to tip #1 above, our tech can really get in the way of a good night’s sleep!
Now, using the blue light apps and blue light glasses mentioned above is a huge improvement. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that using technology until our heads hit the pillow is still not a great idea! 😐
If you’re unable to stop thinking and fully relax when it’s time to sleep, you may want to consider going screen-free before bed. Don’t panic – half an hour is a good place to start!
Practicing a self-care routine before bed is a great alternative to scrolling on the phone. It’s also perfect for winding down and getting into the right energetic space for a restful sleep. You can dedicate this time to meditation, journaling, your skin care routine. You name it…if it’s relaxing, go for it!
#3 – Eat Carbs at Night
For so long, the common wisdom has been to load up on carbs at breakfast and skip them at night. Well, let’s turn that thinking upside down!
Eating carbs at night, either for dinner or right before bed, can actually provide a bunch of health benefits. Especially when it comes to a good night’s sleep.
Good, clean carbs allow the liver to renew its stored glycogen. Basically, this means that your liver has enough stored energy to keep blood sugar stable and fuel your brain during the night. This is especially important if you follow a low carb diet, which can contribute to poor sleep quality.
A good clue that your blood sugar may be dropping too low during the night is that you often wake between the hours of 1am to 3am. If this is you – try adding some extra carbohydrates to your dinner, or take a teaspoon of honey before bed!
#4 – Swap Caffeinated Drinks for Herbal Teas
We love our coffee around here, but not so much after 2pm. Caffeinated drinks like coffee, green tea and regular ol’ black tea can be highly stimulating, especially for the caffeine sensitive.
Caffeine can take up to 8 hours to be processed by the liver, depending on whether you’re a fast or slow metaboliser. Note: if you’re prone to the caffeine-induced jitters, chances are you’re a slower metaboliser!
To stay on the safe side, try avoiding caffeine after 2pm.
Herbal teas make a great alternative to caffeinated drinks, and can actually help to reduce anxiety and bring on that sleepy feeling! For example, valerian has been used as a sedative since the 18th century. It acts to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system by modifying the transport of GABA – a neurotransmitter. (2)
Some other great herbal teas to try include: passionflower, skullcap, lavender and chamomile. We also love to experiment with different blends of herbal tea.
Related: Is Coffee Bad for You?
#5 – Get to Bed Before 11pm
The harsh truth is here, guys. Honestly this could have been my number one tip, but I didn’t want to be a nag!
If you want to sleep better, you need to cultivate a routine of going to bed pre 11pm. This not only helps to bolster your body’s internal clock, but allows you to benefit from the deeper phases of sleep that your body needs to feel refreshed and productive during the day.
If you’re a night owl, you may want to try winding back your bedtime half an hour at a time. Before you know it, the added energy and productivity you experience during the day may even convert you to a morning person!
Do you have any secrets for how to sleep better? We want to know!