Monday, April 4, 2016

5 Steps to Better Sleep

Do you ever struggle to fall asleep? Perhaps you've tried counting sheep or breathing exercises, but nothing seems to do the trick. Here are five ideas to put you on the path toward a full night's sleep. If all else fails, I'll try to make this post a total snooze so you can just read this each night and it's a win-win. You'll fall asleep effortlessly and I'll get a bunch of blog hits.

1. Don't Read in Bed

Many sleep experts recommend reading to relax before bedtime — as long as you don't devour that page-turner in bed. According to the American Sleep Association, reading in bed associates your brain with wakefulness. Or, y'know, you associate reading with sleepiness and fall asleep reading emails or at work if you're a magazine editor. Worst-case scenario, you read something crazy like Gone Girl and then you definitely can't sleep.

2. Don't Drink (Too Much) Coffee (in Bed)

As often as those trendy blogger-girls drink their coffee in bed, I can only assume they spend their sleepless nights dreaming up their next Instagram post. That's because they're likely not doing any real dreaming. A study found in Psychology Today urges you to stop drinking coffee by 2 p.m. to ensure that it doesn't affect your slumber. (Sidebar: Does anybody else feel really silly ordering either tea or decaf at coffee shops in the afternoon and evening hours? I always want to stand up and say, "Hi, I'm Ana, and caffeine adversely affects my sleep" to the 19-year-old barista who just chuckled to himself that grandma over here ordered a mint tea.) Back to the point at hand: If people think reading in bed associates the bed with wakefulness, then drinking coffee in bed certainly seems like a bad idea. And yeah, I'll probably still do it, but now I'll feel like some self destructive, rebel-without-a-cause cool chick when I do.

3. Turn off the Electronics

Back to those Instagram posts — it turns out ending your day by mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds is a bad idea. The National Sleep Foundation explains how light—even a small amount of light produced by a cell phone—can negatively affect our circadian rhythm.

4. Buy Cute Pillows

Buy cute pillows. It's not scientifically proven, but I think you sleep better if you're happy in your environment. On that note, buy cute pillows and clean your room.

5. Be Mindful

A lot of the advice out there on how to sleep better just starts with being mindful of triggers that may prevent you from a good night's sleep. If you have a tendency to overthink or worry at bedtime, chances are that you struggle with that during the day, too. Consider setting aside intentional time for prayer or meditation before bed instead of running through the next day's to-do list. A bedtime routine  could include shutting off technology early, drinking a cup of herbal tea or even yoga to calm yourself from a long day and prepare yourself for a long night of sleeping (instead of tossing and turning.)

P.S. Only take sleep aids (including melatonin) as a last resort, otherwise you might become totally dependent on them to sleep and then what happens when you go on a camping trip and forget your melatonin and you're awake all night and there might be bears and ...?


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