How did we get into sleep? Well we all do it or maybe some of us don’t do it as much as we should, like Becci. To put it simple, we got more interested in sleep because Becci was struggling. She was waking up in the middle of the night – 3am to be precise – and she couldn’t get back to sleep. She was sick of feeling groggy and sleep deprived so we decided to do something about it. We dug into the research, watched a MasterClass on the subject, listened to podcasts, and what we found out was really interesting. We love to find healthy, natural solutions and this post is dedicated sharing our findings and what’s worked best.
A short introduction to sleep
The mystery of why we sleep dates all the way back to ancient Egyptian times when people would gather at temples to ask priests to interpret their dreams. The Greeks and Romans worshipped gods and goddesses associated with sleep. Sleep is even discussed in the bible! So, it shouldn’t be a surprise then that our fascination with sleep continued on through history and is at the forefront of discussions around health and wellness today thanks to people like Matthew Walker, whose book, Why We Sleep, became a runaway bestseller around the world.
Why should you care?
Sleep is interesting, but why should you care? Today, over 60 million prescriptions are filled for sleep aids in the United States alone. It’s part of a $32+ billion industry and it seems like the more we find out about sleep the more and more we are learning about sleep the more we are becoming aware of how many people aren’t getting the sleep they need.
Lack of sleep is associated with heart attacks, an increase in car accidents, weight gain, and even Alzheimer’s. So, it’s safe to say that getting enough sleep is vital to your health, wellbeing and longevity.
How much sleep do I need?
On average, adults should be sleeping between 7-9 hours every night (source: Matthew Walker – TED Talk). The Center for Disease Control in the United States, actually stipulates having a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, as anything less directly increases mortality rates. So, the less sleep you get the shorter your life, but how about more sleep? Well, sleeping more than 9 hours doesn’t actually give you any added benefits, in fact, studies have shown that more than 9 hours of sleep also increases your mortality rates. So it would seem then at 7-9 hours is the sweet spot for adults.
Alright, now let’s get to the practical side of this post. After learning everything we could in our spare time about sleep to help Becci, we’ve come up with 7 healthy and natural ways you can better your sleep.
7 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Load up on Vitamin D
Exposing yourself to natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day can help regulate your sleep patterns. It’s best if you can catch those rays of sunshine in the morning.
Check your devices at the door
Start thinking of your bedroom as a prehistoric cave; cool, dark, and gadget free. Instead of charging your phone next to your bed, leave it in the kitchen to charge and that goes for all of your electronic…even your kindle and digital alarm clock.
Leave time to unwind
Create a relaxing routine before bed. We love to read (a physical book not on our kindles), write in our gratitude journal and Spencer loves to do some light stretching. But anything that calms you down and relaxes you will work great!
Take a warm bath
Baths (especially with epsom salt) are a great way to not only calm you down before bed, but they actually drop your internal body temperature. This goes for warm showers, too, so don’t worry if you don’t have enough time for a bath. Our body temperatures naturally fluctuate during the day but at night, before we sleep, our core temperature drops by 2 – 3 degree Fahrenheit. So, taking a warm bath actually helps you release body heat through your hands and feet, which helps decrease your core temperature, so you feel sleepy and ready for bed.
Find a routine
It’s so easy to go to bed late one night and sleep in on the weekends, but ultimate it throws off our internal clocks. Our bodies love routines and they thrive on them. This is why it’s so important to have a morning routine and a bedtime routine. Pick a time that you’d like to go to bed, we are usually in bed by 10pm, and then set your alarm for your 8 hour sleep, for us that would be 6am. Stick to that routine as best your can for a week to see how that helps you sleep through the night, feeling refreshed and energized, rather than groggy and tired.
Eat light at night
Ok, this one is a bit tough. We’ve been known to have too much dessert after dinner, but ultimately it’s just not worth it if you want to have a good night’s sleep. Eating too much at night can cause indigestion that interferes with your sleep. Also, be sure not to drink too many fluids, because this can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night to go pee when you could be fast asleep. We try to have our last meal 2 – 3 hours before we go to bed, so we will never eat after 8pm if we are going to bed at 10pm. This gives our body enough time to digest our food and leaves us enough time to unwind and relax, as well.
Avoid alcohol before bed
We totally understand that having a drink after a long and stressful day can help you relax, but too much of it can rob you of your sleep. Alcohol before bed can also impair your breathing at night and cause you to wake up multiple times during sleep even though you may not remember doing so.
Our Final Thoughts
We’ve found that with anything, trying to adopt all of these new habits at once, can be a difficult and overwhelming process. So, we started with what was most feasible for us and that was finding a routine that worked for us – going to bed by 10pm and waking up at 6am – and limiting our late night snacking that was making us feel too full, causing indigestion that would wake us up and take us out of our deep sleep. However, once we worked these out – by the way we aren’t perfect and don’t get these right all the time, but we try! – we worked on the next most important and for Becci that was finding time to unwind. This has been by far one of the best ways for Becci to sleep soundly. When she’s had time to relax and get her mind in a calm state, she can much more easily sleep through the night without that 3am wake up call.
Overall, we’d suggest adding these tips in gradually after you’ve formed a new habit around each or try one new tip each week to see how it affects your sleep.
Let us know if you’ve tried something that works for you or if any of these tips prove to be helpful.