Sleep Better, Move Better: 6 Tips for a Healthy Sleep
This past Sunday was Daylight Savings Time, a yearly occurrence that prompts us to set our clocks forward and forego one hour of sleep for an extra bit of daylight. While there are some great perks to setting the clocks forward (hello, longer daylight hours!), the jump ahead can have lasting side effects on the body’s natural sleep cycle, causing a drop in concentration, productivity and energy level as a result.
If you’ve been feeling sluggish during your morning workouts this week, you’re not the only one. What’s the key to bouncing back from the “Spring forward” sleep loss? Improving the quality of your sleep and setting a new, healthy, sleep routine.
See below for some simple components to a healthy night’s rest, and give these 6 tips a try tonight:
- Sleep on your back for optimal rest. Sleeping on your back in savasana pose helps your body and mattress work in tandem to keep your spine, neck and limbs in proper alignment. Back sleepers are less likely to experience pain in these areas, and as a bonus, sleeping on your back can help improve your posture during the day.
- Exercise regularly (at least 3 hrs before bedtime). The benefits of regular exercise on your health are endless, but one key benefit you may not have considered is the improvement in your quality of sleep. Exercise helps reduce the anxiety that can keep you up at night and releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that make you happy and content. Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime. Give yourself at least 3 hours post-exercise to wind down and get sleepy.
- Set a “sleep truce” with your partner. If you share a bed with someone else, it can be tricky to strike a sleep balance that leaves you both well rested. As with all healthy relationships, the key to harmonious sleep is open communication and compromise. Talk with your partner about sleep habits they have that may be impacting you, and work towards a compromise. Have a partner that’s a blanket hog? Agree to buy separate blankets, so you can each have your own. Have differing bedtime routines? Find a compromise that works for you both.
- Turn off the screens. The artificial blue light emitted by our televisions, computers and smart phones can falsely signal to our bodies that it’s still daytime and not time to rest. Reduce your exposure to blue light by turning off all screens at least one hour before bedtime. Can’t give up The Big Bang Theory? At least dim the screen’s brightness on your viewing device.
- Keep it (slightly) cool. As your body switches into sleep mode, your internal thermostat lowers slightly to adjust. Set your sleeping quarters to comfortably below room temperature (somewhere in the range of 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit) to induce this internal change. Sleeping in a room that’s too hot or too cold can compromise your body’s ability to have REM sleep, causing you to wake up feeling unrested.
- Accept when you can’t sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s easy to panic as you watch the clock tick forward towards morning. Resist the urge to have negative thoughts like “what is wrong with me that I can’t sleep?” or “great, now my whole day is going to be ruined,” as those thoughts will only add to your anxiety level and work against you to make sleep more difficult. If you are having trouble sleeping, take a deep breath, give yourself a break and repeat a positive mantra in your head.
To get started with an exercise routine that can help you sleep better, visit one of the following clubs: