It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is the foundation of a healthy and happy day. Your whole body just feels off when you’re tired; you’re more stressed and irritable, you’re less focused, and you’re even more likely to indulge in sugary junk food thanks to your “hunger hormones” being affected by a lack of sleep. So how do you catch some quality Zs?
Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed
Melatonin is a hormone that helps you regulate your sleep/wake cycle. As you would expect, it’s affected by exposure to light. That’s why we feel tired at night, and more energetic during the sunlight hours. Or, at least, we should. The thing is, melatonin is affected by all sorts of light, including that coming from your computer, phone, TV, or tablet. In fact, the blue light emitted from these devices is particularly disruptive to a proper sleep/wake cycle. Try to disengage from all screen time 1-2 hours before bed. Also, to help your sleep/wake cycle along even more, try to expose yourself to sunlight as much as possible during the day, starting right when you wake up.
Skip your afternoon coffee
You might not think your afternoon coffee break is a big deal–it’s still hours before bedtime!–but caffeine can stay in your system for up to 6 hours. Instead of coffee, beat your afternoon slump by drinking a lot of water, and doing some light stretching. It might seem like a poor substitute for something caffeinated, but a lot of afternoon fatigue actually comes from dehydration. If you’re desperate for a caffeine fix, opt for green tea. It has lower levels of caffeine than coffee, and also contains antioxidants.
Moving your body gets blood flowing to your muscles, which increases oxygen and nutrient delivery, and makes you feel more relaxed. Studies have shown that regular exercisers report getting better sleep than non-exercisers. Just make sure you’re not doing anything too strenuous or stimulating close to bedtime. Finish your harder workouts (like cardio or weight lifting) 3-4 hours before going to sleep. Try some light stretching right before bed to help you relax.