04 Oct 6 Tips for Your Best Sleep Ever
Yogis probably have less sleep troubles than non-yogis.
That’s because exercise has long been shown to help with sleep, but it’s not the only key to good restorative sleep. There are plenty of people who exercise regularly and are still plagued by insomnia – can’t fall asleep, can’t stay asleep, or wake up too early. Worse, all of the above. Good restorative sleep is at least as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise in terms of overall wellness. Although each individual is different in terms of what might be interfering with sleep, here are a few tips that might help you improve this important component of wellness:
Realize that we sleep in approximately 90 minute sleep cycles. Even people who don’t “wake up” between each cycle come very close to it. So when you wake at 4am and you don’t need to be up until 6, tell yourself “It’s okay, I still have time for one more whole sleep cycle!” This might reduce the anxiety you feel about waking up prematurely.
Have a good sleep schedule. Generally you should go to sleep at the same time every night and awaken around the same time every morning. Obviously there have to be exceptions to this – there’s travel, social gatherings, etc .– but try to stick to the schedule at least 5 days a week at a minimum.
Exercise – but not too late! As above, exercise has been shown time and time again to help with sleep patterns. The exception is for people with trouble sleeping – exercise 2-3 hours before bed can be overly stimulating.
If you are having chronic trouble sleeping, eliminate caffeine after noon or altogether if needed. This seems obvious but it can be hard to give up if you’re a coffee addict! You may need to taper off to avoid headaches and severe fatigue, but your body will thank you in the long run. (Side note, if you’re not having trouble sleeping, coffee is okay in moderation, and is even good for liver cleansing!).
No bright screens for 2-3 hours before bed. Period. Except…if you are like me and like to read books and articles on your device sometimes, see if you have a “night shift” setting. The new iPhone/iPad software (9.3 and higher) has this under “Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Night Shift.” Other smartphones may have similar functions. This setting adjusts the color scale away from blue light, which can be overly stimulating before bed by interfering with natural melatonin production. This may not solve your problems if you are struggling significantly – in that case please eliminate screens altogether. Go back to paper books or listen to a calming podcast instead.
The bed should be for sleep (and sex). Period. You should read in a different location of the house and go to bed when you’re sleepy. If you wake at night and can’t fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, go to a different room and do something relaxing, such as mediating or reading, and then return to bed when you are sleepy.