Intro: why quality sleep matters
Most of us know that it is important to get an appropriate amount of sleep each night. But why is sleep really so important? For one thing, sleep is directly related to the other components of your health and your life. For example, the amount and quality of sleep one gets each night has been shown to have significant effects on weight loss and weight gain. But more importantly, getting high quality sleep is important to ensure you have a high quality, productive day the next day.
Sleeping well is also an extremely important variable in ensuring high quality brain function, longevity, and productivity throughout your life. Quality sleep promotes healthy skin, optimal insulin secretion and sensitivity, healthy cell division, and enhanced athletic performance, among many other things.
What is sleep hygiene?
To ensure excellent sleep each night, it’s important to practice what’s referred to as “sleep hygiene.” The National Sleep Foundation describes sleep hygiene as “a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.” In this article, you’ll learn some of the most effective of these sleep hygiene strategies so that you can reap the full benefits that sleep has to offer.
Before we dive into more detail down below, here are a few things to try incorporating right away to take your sleep to the next level:
- Limiting naps to 30 minutes or less
- Exercising during the day to promote a good night’s sleep
- Adequate exposure to natural light (sunlight during the day, darkness at night)
- Incorporating relaxing bedtime routines
- Ensuring your sleep environment is pleasant and comfortable
Three Easy Tips for Better Sleep
- Avoiding Food and Stimulants Before Bed
Most people’s nighttime habits, unbeknownst to them, directly interfere with the quality of their sleep. For example: eating a huge meal very late at night at a restaurant, or ending a meal with a few cups of coffee, or having a few alcoholic drinks before bed.
Some people can get away with this and not notice problems, but if you are having sleep difficulties, these are the first things I’d recommend cutting out. Ideally, it’d be best not to eat later than 8PM. This is because your body will go on digesting your meal throughout the night, and this can wake you up with digestive troubles, even triggering heartburn for some individuals.
Stimulants like caffeine are known to interfere with sleep, but many people don’t realize how much alcohol can also interfere with their sleep quality. This is because many rely on alcohol to relax in the evening, and initiate the process of falling asleep. The problem is that when your body actually begins to process the alcohol, it’s likely to wake you up later on in the night.
- Establish a healthy rhythm
As humans, we are wired to wake up shortly after the sun rises, and sleep shortly after the sun sets. A lot of us try to fight this reality, even though if you pay attention to your body you can start to feel this natural tendency intuitively. Those who regularly defy the body’s natural rhythms (shift workers, for example) are notorious for frequent health problems and lower quality of life.
One of the best things you can do to maximise the quality of your sleep is to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day. Ideally, this would be on the earlier side (sleeping at 10 or 11PM, waking up at 7 or 8AM, for example). This will optimize your circadian rhythm, and you’ll also get into the habit of knowing when to start winding down at night to prepare for bed, helping you get into an even deeper sleep as fast as possible.
- Incorporating tonic herbs
Tonic herbs can help lower your levels of stress and anxiety, making it easier to relax before you hit the hay. Herbs like Reishi and He Shou Wu are excellent yin herbs for mellowing out in the evening and increasing the quality of your sleep, with Reishi calming the heart and He Shou Wu calming the nervous system.
Another great choice would be Gynostemma. Many people find a hot cup of tea will ease digestive troubles that could possibly interfere with their sleep. Gynostemma is an excellent digestive and sleep aid, and a delicious base to add my other herbal extracts to.
Some people report that Lion’s Mane, famous for healing the brain, allows for more restorative sleep. It’s possible that by taking the neurological system to the next level, Lion’s Mane may facilitate higher quality, deeper sleep or even getting more of a rejuvenating effect out of less sleep.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is important, but many people neglect the quality of their sleep. To enhance sleep quality, it’s best to incorporate these top sleep hygiene practices. Big meals and stimulants should be avoided before bed, and ideally one should fall asleep and wake up around the same time each day. Lastly, incorporate top tonic herbs to help relax and unwind before bed, and deepen the quality of your sleep to ensure you have an excellent and productive next day! You can check out my tonic herbs here