By Eliza Crisp, contributing blogger.
Admit it: we’ve all got that person in our lives that could seemingly fall asleep standing up. You know the one; they doze off on the couch, in the movie theatre, at the dinner table…There truly seems to be nothing ever stopping them from taking the express train to Zzz Town.
But for the rest of us? It might take a little more care and attention to get good quality, restorative sleep. We toss, we turn, we agonize, and we have a running commentary in our head that tracks how many hours remain until our alarm starts blaring… Spending hours staring at the ceiling can feel awfully isolating, but we promise you aren’t alone! Some of our favorite wellness experts have delved into sleep research with gusto, and we have rounded up their most achievable steps for night-time success.
Prep for tomorrow (before you hit the sheets)
While writing her #1 New York Times bestselling novel ‘The Happiness Project’, author Gretchen Rubin (who counts Oprah Winfrey among her fans) honed in on the link between sleep and overall happiness. In her ‘Fourteen Tips for Getting More Sleep’, Rubin gently points to a common refrain: preparation is key. Think back to your childhood: did your parents enforce a bedtime, and suggest that you lay out your clothes for school the next day? You probably groaned about it at the time, but those simple night-time habits can work just as well in adulthood. Choosing your outfit, and packing your bag for the next day, might just be enough to stop you mentally running through your to-do list at 2am. The same thing with your bedtime; having a pre-determined time that you put yourself to bed will help automate your sleep schedule.
Dreamtime & Screentime
It wasn’t until she collapsed from exhaustion in her office (breaking her cheekbone in the fall), that Ariana Huffington realized that she needed to prioritize sleep. As the co-founder of The Huffington Post, the busy journalist was surviving on just a few hours of broken sleep each night, often punctuated with interruptions from her cellphone. Fast forward to 2019, Huffington has written two books on the relationship between sleep and productivity (‘Thrive’ and ‘The Sleep Revolution’) and the Huffington Post offices were some of the first to popularize nap rooms. One of Huffington’s simplest suggestions for proper sleep hygiene is charging your devices outside your bedroom while you sleep. That’s right; not under your pillow, not on your nightstand, but in another room. She’s so passionate about this, in fact, that she even designed a phone-charging station that looks like a miniature bed, complete with a tiny satin comforter, and slots for 10 devices. Genius!
You are what you eat (and drink)
You might treat your 3pm latte as a quick fix for that mid-afternoon slump, but a jolt of coffee might be doing you more harm than good. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep-blocking drugs such as caffeine have a half-life of 3 to 5 hours, which means you could be feeling the stimulant effects well into the night. Winding down with a steaming mug of chamomile tea or spraying your room with lavender oil might seem like something your grandmother would suggest, but science backs it up. Finding yourself trekking to the fridge for a midnight snack? It’s easy to sabotage your sleep schedule by making the wrong choices, but The Sleep Council suggests foods rich in amino-acids such as bananas, almonds and Greek yoghurt. Easy, right?
Don’t beat yourself up! There will be times when you want to ‘cheat’ on your bedtime, and stay up late scrolling through Instagram (with a pint of ice cream by your side). ‘Adulting’ is hard work, and despite our best intentions, sometimes we all want to rebel a little. It might take a bit of willpower at first, but by having a comforting evening routine up your sleeve, you will be able to eradicate those bleary-eyed mornings for good. Sleep tight!