Healthy Habits

Five Habits I Follow to Sleep Better

warm orange glow from a salt lamp

When I was younger and had less responsibilities, I rarely thought about sleep hygiene. Now that I am trying to juggle a demanding job, incorporate fitness daily, and still have energy left over for relationships and/or pursing my passions, sleep is a priority. My routine isn’t anything novel or complex, but there are certain measure I take if I want to function at 100% during the day…

Five Habits I Follow to Sleep Better…

  1. Create the right environment for sleep. Besides keeping my room nice and cool, I am a firm believer that the bedroom should be only for sex and sleep. Having screens in your room, including TVs, phones, and computers, can disrupt your quality of sleep. They are known to emit blue lights and disrupts natural melatonin production, keeping you alert and awake. While I refuse to have a TV in my room, I must confess – I still use my phone and iPad before bed. I like to listen to a podcast on my phone (props to the sleep countdown timer on the Apple podcast player!) or read a book on my iPad. But I do take a few steps to ensure their use doesn’t disrupt getting sleepy. At night I set both devices to red and super dim, and I have a couple settings such as night mode to minimize any notifications and distractions. Another game changer is the salt lamp and a salt lamp night light that I bought off Amazon. I can still see around my room, but I get sleepier much faster, and clearly, Nala approves (see photo below).
  2. Take sleep supplements. I don’t always take supplements, but on days where I’m feeling particularly anxious, I like to take a magnesium cocktail. Melatonin is not recommended (surprisingly) as a long term fix, so I only take this when my sleep schedule is disrupted from travel or I’m super anxious. Obviously, speak to your primary care physician about any sort of treatment you want to consider, and for recommendations of which supplement you should take. I highly recommend listening to this podcast to inform yourself on supplements and sleep.
  3. Exercise regularly. It’s an endless cycle – I will get busy so I stop exercising. Then, I get stressed and can’t sleep, which results in me being even more stressed. And repeat. I have found, time and time again, that I cannot have quality sleep without having regular, intense exercise. There are studies that back this up, so I try to make it a priority. My fitness routine lately has been alternating between hot yoga, Crossfit classes, and walks outside. By the time night rolls around, I am shattered.
  4. Avoid alcohol. I hate to say this. I really do. I’m a self-proclaimed wine connoisseur. Admitting to myself that long gone are the days where I could party, go to sleep for a solid 4 hours, and be perfectly bubbly and productive the next day, is really hard. However, I know myself now, and even a glass of wine will impact the quality of my sleep. Sometimes, it’s worth it, because face it, life is short and you need to enjoy it too, but when I have important things going on at work or in life and need to be 100% mentally there, I try and avoid alcohol.
  5. Try to see sunlight shortly after waking up. This is another Huberman gem for ya, but this really helps me keep my circadian cycle on point. Dog owners have natural alarm clocks that tend to rise with the sun without an alarm. Nala keeps me honest, and about 6:30 am or so, I start hearing her little seal whine noises (seriously, she sounds like a seal). We go downstairs, walk outside, she sniffs every rock in a 1 mile radius of the house and does her business, and I benefit from the sunlight at the horizon. As simple as this sounds, this sets your whole circadian timer in motion. Early morning light triggers hormone production that sets us up for the evening. Further proof humans are just complicated plants with feelings.
Sleepy Nala loves the salt lamps!

So that’s really all that I do that helps me sleep better. It’s not a perfect routine but I find that the more often and consistently I stick to these 5 tips, the better quality sleep I’ve been getting. Do you have any special bedtime routines? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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