Alaska Sleep Education Center

10 Tips For Unwinding and Preparing For a Good Night's Rest

Posted by Mikkie Mills on Jun 15, 2021 4:00:00 AM

Thoughtful Young Woman Lying at Living Room Sofa, Leaning her Pretty Face on her Hands and Looking Away.

If you're looking to get a good night's sleep tonight, your behaviors in the few hours before bedtime often have the biggest impact on your sleep quality. Here are 10 tips to unwind at night and prepare for a good night's rest.

1. Take Supplements

Supplements are a great option if you want to promote restful sleep naturally. For example, CBD oil is commonly used by those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders. If you choose to buy CBD oil, you may find that it increases your sleep duration and reduces the number of nighttime awakenings. Although the exact mechanism is not yet understood, researchers believe that CBD may lower the release of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that disrupts sleep.

Some other common supplements that promote relaxation and improve sleep quality include passionflower, GABA and valerian root. 

2. Turn Off Your Electronics

Although it can be tempting to catch up on the latest episode of your favorite TV show or scroll through your Instagram feed, the blue light emitted by these devices blocks your body's melatonin production, which interferes with its ability to prepare for restful sleep. Try turning off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed and grab the book on your nightstand instead.

3. Practice Good Eating Habits

Consuming a heavy meal before bedtime can disrupt sleep, as your body will raise its metabolism to digest the food. In addition, eating a big meal at night can cause acid reflux or heartburn. You may think that you don't need to worry about this because you don't experience digestive discomfort during the day; however, lying down after a heavy meal at night can lead to indigestion. 

Furthermore, try to stay away from sugary or spicy foods before bed. When you consume sugar, your blood sugar and cortisol levels immediately spike. Considering that cortisol is your body's built-in alarm system, you can see how an increase in this chemical can awaken your body from its slumber. Furthermore, spicy foods contain capsaicin, a chemical that interferes with your body's thermoregulation process. Your body normally lowers its temperature to fall asleep, but capsaicin instead causes an elevation in temperature, thus interfering with restful sleep.

4. Write In a Journal

If you find it difficult to unwind at night because of the days' stresses, writing in a journal is a great way to process your emotions. Journaling has been shown to clear the mind, release negative thoughts and reduce stress. Furthermore, the good news is that there are no rules when it comes to journaling. Simply taking 10 minutes out of your day to jot down what's been weighing on your mind recently can do wonders for your well-being and sleep quality.

5. Practice Meditation

You've probably heard about the positive effects of meditation on the mind and body, and for good reason. Meditation is an age-old practice that's been shown to improve sleep quality, reduce stress and control pain.

In fact, one study found that adults who practiced meditation for just six weeks experienced fewer insomnia symptoms at night and less fatigue during the day. This is because meditation increases melatonin, reduces heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Because meditation aims to create a deep state of relaxation, it's the perfect bedtime activity that'll let your brain know you're ready to sleep.

6. Avoid Strenuous Exercise

While exercising regularly has been shown to have benefits for sleep quality, exercising right before bed can actually have the opposite effect. Vigorous exercise before bed can increase your body temperature and heart rate, therefore making it more difficult for you to achieve a restful state and fall asleep. 

However, this doesn't mean that you have to swear off all kinds of exercise at night. Engaging in a light workout like yoga, stretching or a short walk can be a relaxing way to end your day. Keep in mind that it's best to finish at least two hours before bedtime to allow your body the time to adequately wind down.

7. Stay Away From Caffeine

Although this may be hard to hear, caffeine may not be the best option for a late-night pick-me-up. Consuming caffeine negatively affects sleep quality because it prevents the release of melatonin, a hormone involved in the circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle. A recent study found that individuals who consumed caffeine six hours before bed experienced a reduction in the sleep of one hour. Therefore, it's best to eliminate caffeine about six to seven hours before bedtime. If you're feeling tired in the late afternoon, consider drinking more water or going for a brisk walk. These are easy solutions to feeling fatigue that are often overlooked.

8. Take a Shower or Bath

Another great way to unwind at night is to hop in the shower or bath an hour or two before you plan on going to bed. While it may seem counterintuitive, taking a warm shower or bath actually decreases your body's temperature, which can help you fall asleep more easily at night. In addition, showering can relieve muscle tension, which is another great way to unwind before bed. 

If you want to elevate the experience, dim the lights, put on some relaxing music, and light your favorite candle. Some calming scents that can promote relaxation and sleep include jasmine, chamomile, and geranium.

9. Turn Down the Lights and Thermostat

Because your body is wired to lower its temperature in the evening, lowering the thermostat creates the ideal environment for sleep. In fact, a recent poll found that room temperature was one of the most important factors that affect sleep quality. It's generally recommended that you keep your bedroom from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve the best sleep.

On a similar note, turning down the lights can prepare your brain for sleep. Going directly from a bright room to a pitch-black room can be quite a shock to your system, which can cause your body to take longer to fall asleep. To keep your circadian rhythm on track, try creating a cool and dim sleeping space.

10. Stick to a Consistent Bedtime

Choosing a bedtime and wake-up time and sticking to them as much as possible will accustom your body to a consistent internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. Because your brain starts to wind down a few hours before bedtime, sticking to the same bedtime will train your brain to feel tired at the same time each night. 

Conclusion

If you've been having trouble sleeping lately, you may need to reevaluate your bedtime habits. Following these 10 tips can help you get the good night's sleep that you need.

A night of poor sleep is a struggle that all humans through time and space know. End your miserable nights of lying awake by developing new patterns and throwing out old ones. It takes some subtle lifestyle changes, but when you wake up feeling less like a troll then they are well worth it.

Sleeping is a precious resource to everybody, human and not. If you’ve had more trouble in being able to fall asleep or staying asleep make sure you contact your doctor and ask him or her further about your condition and ways you can cope with it. I hope these tips and info have been of your nourishment and aid you as you try to go to bed tonight.

Learn more about insomnia and download Alaska Sleep Clinic's FREE, downloadable e-book below. If you need just a few habit adjustments to improve your sleep, call us today @ 907-374-3063 to get the answers, diagnosis, and treatment you need.

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Topics: bedtime, sleep hygiene, winding down

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