Tips and Tools to Help You Get More Sleep
Do you stay up late and then either sleep in or just don’t get enough sleep, period? Where are my fellow night owls? Raise your hand if you’re part of the cool kids club!
Seriously, I used to think that staying awake late into the night was like a badge of honor, one that only the night warriors got. Back in high school, I remember someone telling me they went to bed by 10 pm every night. I instantly thought, “You can’t even stay awake long enough to watch Conan? Weak!” But who was really getting the short end of the stick by not getting enough sleep and dragging through the next day, wishing for a nap? This girl!
I’m certainly not the best sleeper, never have been. Whether it’s noise outside, my chronic back pain, or my mind is racing and I’m thinking about a million different things at once – something is usually keeping me awake. Maybe you can relate?
Why You Need to Get a Good Night’s Sleep
I definitely need to get better about setting up a sleep schedule for myself because I know how important sleep is to my overall health. I mean, we all KNOW we need to get enough sleep each night, right? But do you know WHY we need that certain amount of sleep and HOW it plays a factor on our waistlines and in our overall wellness? Feel free to can hop over to this blog post to read more about some of the reasons why you need to get a good night’s sleep.
And yes, I know it’s easy to say “get more sleep”, but with our busy schedules, the amount of time we spend watching television, mindlessly surfing the internet and zoning out on social media sites, it’s not always easy to see sleep as a priority. But the benefits of getting 7-9 hours of sleep and the effects this has on our ability to maintain a healthy weight do add up.
Lack of Sleep
Lack of sleep plays a huge part when it comes to an increased risk of weight gain. But why is that? When we’re overly tired, our energy levels decrease and we are less likely to practice healthy behaviors like working out or cooking a healthy meal at home.
The “starvation hormone”, leptin, also plays a major role in whether we feel full or hungry. Leptin levels decrease when we don’t get enough sleep, which causes our brains to sense starvation. As a result, our bodies want to make up the leptin levels when we’re tired and reacts by making us feel hungry. We start to crave foods that are high in sugar, fats, carbs, and calories. And that’s when we can start to put on more weight.
Tools to Help Us Get More Sleep
So what can we do to increase the amount of sleep we’re getting each night? Let’s explore some ways to change our habits, as well as some other sleep aids and gadgets we can try in order to get better sleep.
If you’ve always done things a certain way (like staying up late, or hitting the snooze button 10 times every morning), changing your habits may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. If you want to dive deeper into this subject, I highly recommend picking up the book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. It’s an amazing read and will help you understand how habits are formed as well as how you have the power to reprogram your brain to change them.
But for now, here are some tips you can start with to improve your sleep habits:
- If you go to bed late at night – move your bedtime up by 15 minutes/day until you’re going to bed 2 hours earlier than you had been previously.
- Make a rule for yourself on what time you will turn off all technology (i.e. television, phone, computer) and stick to it!
- Make a sleep schedule for yourself and be consistent – even on the weekends.
- If you tend to have a wandering/racing mind once you lay down to sleep, write out your to-do list for the next day before going to bed.
- Keep a notepad next to your bed so you can write down anything that comes to mind or nags you while you’re trying to sleep.
- Set your phone to Do Not Disturb or airplane mode and keep it out of reach (preferably out of the bedroom)
Here are some things I’ve tried and have been helpful when I’m having trouble sleeping:
- Wax earplugs – you can easily mold them to fit your ears and they help seal out (or at least muffle) noise. I use these from Ohropax.
- MyPillow® – I’m not affiliated with them, but seriously it’s THE. BEST. PILLOW. I. HAVE. EVER. HAD! Tip: look around on the internet for a promo code; you can usually find great 2-for-1 or 4-for-2 deals!
- White Noise – I use a fan for this purpose, but you could get a white noise machine or try out different apps
- High-Quality Sheets – They can get a little pricey, but are totally worth it! Here’s a great article from Business Insider where they tested and ranked several different types bed sheets
- Sleep Mask – If you’re sensitive to both light and sound, try one that covers both your eyes and ears!
If you’re still having trouble sleeping, some of these resources might be useful:
- Talk to your doctor – there may be something else going on, or she may want you to get a sleep study done, try sleep aid medications, change your diet, or lose weight
- Book – “The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype–and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More” by Michael Breus
- Quiz – There is also a quick The Power of When quiz you can take to learn about your sleep chronotype which can help you figure out the best time for you to sleep!
- Book – “Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success” by Shawn Stevenson; a sleep expert!
Did I miss any of your favorite tips? If so, I’d love to hear what helps you fall asleep and/or stay asleep at night! And if you found this helpful, please share with anyone who could use a good night’s sleep too!
For more tips on how to jumpstart your healthiest year yet – click below for my free 7 Day Kickstart to a New You email series. You’ll get 7 Healthy Strategies with action steps that you can start using right away!