Do you feel like a bear being woken from their hibernation every morning? You’re probably not alone. Although not everyone is a morning person, there are ways you can boost your energy in the early hours of the day by improving your bedtime ritual. Here’s how to wind down for the best night’s sleep possible, and ready to pounce out of the bed the next day:
1. Eat your last meal at least 3 hours before bed.
If your body is working hard to digest a large meal, you’ll find it uncomfortable to fall and stay asleep. Opt for a dinner of lean protein, lots of vegetables and a little portion of low GI carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa, pasta) to keep you satisfied, but not overfull.
2. Avoid intense exercise late in the day.
Exercise generally improves sleep, but in the short term can keep you up and about because it boosts energy and body temperature. Going for a stroll around the block is fine, but try to reschedule high intensity weights sessions or cardio for earlier in the day if possible.
3. Back off the blue light.
Staring at computers, tablets and mobile devices before bed can mess with your melatonin, the hormone responsible for sending and keeping you asleep. If you need to work late at night, install software such as f.lux on your computer or a similar app on your phone to warm the colours of your screen. Otherwise, try to switch off from technology by reading a real book, talking to your partner or listening to relaxing music.
4. Lose the booze.
Having a glass of wine with dinner a few nights a week is totally acceptable (and healthy), but be aware that large amounts of alcohol can disrupt a sound shut-eye.Â Although you may fall asleep easily, it affects sleep quality later in the night making you more prone to awakenings, nightmares and headaches.
5. Have your caffeine fix before 2pm.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can effect the body for up to six hours and takes a full 24 hours to eliminate. That means if you have a coffee at say 6pm to meet your deadline, caffeine could still be circulating through your body at midnight. This can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep (it makes you sleep more lightly), and could make you get up during the night to use the toilet as it’s a diuretic.
6. Create a luscious sleep envrionment.
This one is simple but often overlooked. Invest in a good quality mattress and block out blinds so that outside lights aren’t disturbing you while you sleep. Getting the right temperature is essential, too. Aim between 18.5 – 20°C is a good guide.
7. Write a list.
Do you find yourself ruminating about all the things you need to do tomorrow instead of nodding off to sleep? Simply writing a list or journaling thoughts can help you put those worries to the back of mind so that you get a peaceful night’s rest.
8. Hit the sack the same time each night.
Our body clock works perfectly well to a routine so if you go to bed and get up at a similar time most days of the week, sleep quality should improve over time.
9. Gentle stretching.
Before hitting the hay, hit the mat for a soothing stretch sequence to calm the nervous system, ease muscle tension and improves circulation – exactly what you need after a stressful day.
10. Practice mindfulness.
On top of stretching, practicing mindfulness or deep breathing activate the relaxation response even further. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a simple exercise to do while lying in bed or you could listen to an app such as HeadSpace, which will take you through a guided meditation.