10 Healthy Habits to Improve Your Sleep

December 2, 2020

We all know that quality sleep is essential for overall wellness & good health, but if you've been having some major trouble in the bedroom (uh, not that kind!) and your sleep has suffered as a result, it can cause a whole myriad of problems - everything from anxiety to issues with your immune system.

Ok, yeah yeah, we get it - we need sleep! But if you're struggling, what can you do about it? Well that's what this post is all about! This year has brought so many new & negative changes that my sleep took a big nose dive a few months ago, but often, "in the deep end is where you grow" (Down to the Roots, by  Saveria - look it up. Inspirational song)!

Through my temporary bought of insanity insomnia, I discovered some very helpful & simple tips to drastically improve sleep. If you're having trouble falling asleep, pick a few of these tips to implement into your nightly routine & I'm sure you'll see an improvement!

1. Stick to a bedtime
This one is my number one tip for a reason: it works. Our bodies are cyclical, and we are creatures of habit. If you've been staying up until 2am scrolling mindlessly on your phone, you're doing yourself a serious disservice because your body starts to think, "Hey this is normal behavior for me!" So if you're playing Cinderella & telling your body every night that it's not bedtime until the clock strikes 12 (or worse), you're going to have a rude awakening in the morning when its time to haul your pumpkin-ass out of bed at 7am. The golden rule here is routine. If you want to get your 7-8 hours of solid zzz's, then you need to push up that bedtime! It won't be magic at first, so do it slowly, pushing it up a little bit more each night until you reach your goal bedtime (I aim to be asleep by about 10:30, so I wind down at 9:30).

2. Set the mood
Ok, really guys, we need to stop with the innuendo (or do we? haha!) But for real, I'm talking prepping your bedroom for the most optimum sleep enviorment. That means clearing out the clutter (tons of junk all over your room creates energetic clutter), maybe having a comfy-cozy bedspread, turning the fan on low (no one likes to sleep when it's sweltering & the low hum of the fan is relaxing), and setting your thermostat to a comfortable degree (most docs recommend something in the range of 60-67°F).

3. (One) Nightstand essentials
(I couldn't help myself!) Think about what's on your nightstand. Do you keep it cluttered with electronic devices and piles of junk? This kind of ties back to keeping a neat(er) & tidy room. Set yourself up for sleep success by clearing out the clutter here, turn your phone face down on the nightstand so the light from notifications (if you don't turn them off) doesn't keep you up (or worse - wake you up), and add a few calming elements to your nightstand to help promote restful sleep (see what I mean by this with #4).

4. Salt lamps
This one is debatable because there's not much actual proven research on the benefits of salt lamps, but personally, I've found they definitely promote a more peaceful mood. The ambient warm lighting is very relaxing, and I love having my salt lamp on all night, so I keep it on my nightstand (along with crystals. So if you're open to it, add some selenite, amethyst or clear quartz to your nightstand). Some salt lamps can actually be kind of bright, so buy one that has a dimmer switch (& if not, you can buy a separate switch here and just swap out the cord in your salt lamp very easily). I also love bringing my salt lamp into the bathroom and turning it on when I take a bath, along with my candles.

5. Weighted blankets
This is something I've recently tried and found it to be instantly helpful. I have anxiety (it's 2020 - if you haven't had any anxiety so far this year, congratulations on being superhuman), so sleeping with a weighted blanket has helped immensely. I love the feeling of the weight on my chest, almost like being held or snuggled (without feeling constrained, confined, or sweaty - something I struggle with when it comes to actual spooning). I've found that I fall asleep quicker and sleep through the night when I use a weighted blanket. Some are pretty pricey though, so if you want to try it out first, opt for a cheaper one to make sure it's right for you before investing in a more expensive blanket.

6. Aromatherapy
If you haven't tried incorporating essential oils into your nightly routine somehow, I would definitely recommend it. I'm a lavender person and find the scent so calming and soothing. I have a lavender pillow mist I keep on my nightstand and spray my pillow 2-3 times before bed (the one I use it very light & diluted so it's not overpowering). You could also use a diffuser or even a salt lamp with a space for putting essential oil drops in, and the scents will be released as the lamp heats up. There are so many scents out there too, if lavender isn't your thing. I also love whole aromatherapy line from Bath & Body Works! The "Energy" & "Love" bath gels are some of my favorites to use in the shower.

7. Screen time/blue light
I don't really know all the ins & outs of the blue light theory, but it couldn't hurt to try to block out as much as possible before bedtime. Set your phone to night-mode during the hours you will begin winding down/sleeping, and avoid watching TV or using your phone about an hour before you plan to go to bed. I also put my phone on "do not disturb" so text messages & notifications don't temp me to pick it up - or worse, rouse me from my sleep to check my phone.

8. Wind down
Since it's best to avoid screen time so close to bed, pick an activity that will help promote relaxation. Take a warm bubble bath close to your bedtime and play some spa music, or just curl up in bed with a great book. I've found that once I start reading close to my bedtime, it really makes me sleepy and I can only squeeze in about 15-20 minutes before my eyelids start getting heavy.

9. Hypnotherapy
This is for my fellow insomniacs out there! Hypnotherapy seriously helped me get through my period of major sleep deprivation and was often the only way I could fall asleep. My head was so full of anxious thoughts and fears that I literally could not turn my brain off. I was plagued by nightmares and night sweats, coupled with a pounding heart. Then I found the "Breethe" app and YouTube hypnotherapy tracks, and they helped calm me down enough to where I could finally fall asleep. It wasn't the best sleep, but it helped me slowly get back to where I needed to be.

10. Chiropractic
I'm a broken record lately when it comes to chiropractic but that's only because I believe so wholeheartedly in its strength as a modality for healing! It's definitely not for everyone though (some people have quite the aversion to it & fear it - typically because of misinformation!) and chiro probably deserves its own entire blog post (which I'm sure I'll write soon), but it has been so pivotal to my overall wellness & was the key ingredient I was missing in changing my sleep habits. Without going too in-depth here, I will just say that chiropractic isn't just for people with back/neck problems. If you're having anxiety, headaches & sleep issues, it can be incredibly helpful! After my first adjustment, it was literally like my doctor pushed the "reset" button and that night, I finally slept through the entire night. Eventually my nightmares stopped, and I fell into a healthy sleeping pattern.

There are so many ways to try to improve your sleep habits, but these are just some of my top tips that I have personally tried & found helpful, and now implement as part of my nightly routine. I hope that some of these resonated and inspire you to give them a chance!

Sweet dreams!

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