Welcome to Week 3 of the 5 Week Body Transformation Challenge! This week we’re talking about how to sleep better. But first…
Why is Sleep Important?
First, good quality sleep helps prevent serious health issues. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, diabetes, mood disturbances, the development of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, and increase your risk for some cancers. Second, quality sleep helps to slow the aging process. Lack of sleep stresses the skin which can lead to breakouts. This happens because cortisol levels don’t have a chance to decrease during sleep, and the skin can’t regenerate and protect itself. And when cortisol levels remain high, collagen breaks down. Collagen is so magical because it helps skin look youthful.
These are two strong reasons why quality sleep is important! If you’re not getting quality sleep, commit to learning how to sleep better because it’s so critical for good health. I’ll give you my 5 favorite tips now!
How to Sleep Better Tip #1: Set a bedtime and wake-up time.
To avoid sleep deprivation, create a bedtime and wake-up time, and then stick to these times during the entire week (including weekends)! Our bodies like a consistent routine and a bedtime/wake-up time help to regulate our sleep cycle. In setting a bedtime, aim for 7–9 hours of sleep per night. That’s the recommended sleep hours/night for adults. Now setting a bedtime is easier said than done, and if you’re like me, you may have intentions to go to bed by a certain time each night but something comes up or something happens. I may get distracted by television, my kids don’t go to bed on time, etc. So I try to plan for the unexpected by getting ready for bed as soon as I get home. Consider trying this: instead of resting on the couch in front of the t.v. when you come home, start your nighttime routine early with your bedtime in mind. That way, when the unexpected things happen, you’ve already started your nighttime routine. You can deal with the unexpected, then get to bed!
How to Sleep Better Tip #2: Keep your room dark and cool.
This is another how to sleep better tip that I’ve used for years! The reason why it works is that light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, which is a hormone that naturally promotes sleep. Keep lights dim in your room as you go through your nighttime routine just before bedtime (having a consistent nighttime routine is extremely effective too). Use room darkening shade to keep out early morning sunlight, and cover-up or turn off lights from your alarm clock/phone/t.v. These tricks will help promote melatonin production and the body’s natural body rhythm for sleep. The room temperature can impact your quality of sleep too. There are mixed results from studies on the subject; however, some people have seen improvements in sleep quality by either lowering the temperature in their bedroom or by using cooling products (e.g., bedding, gel mats, etc.) to lower their body temperature.
How to Sleep Better Tip #3: Pay attention to what you’re eating.
You may be able to improve your sleep by assessing what you’re eating. Food can help or deteriorate the quality of our sleep. For instance, certain foods have nutrients that support and promote the sleep cycle. Here are a few:
- jasmine rice
- sweet potatoes
Likewise, there are certain foods that you should avoid before bedtime because they may inhibit your sleep. They are:
- heavy, greasy food
- dark chocolate
How to Sleep Better Tip #4: Avoid caffeinated drinks.
This is kind of a no-brainer but still needs to be mentioned. Caffeine literally revs up the body because it’s a stimulant. It’s important to know what’s in your drinks because caffeine is in other drinks besides coffee. Sodas and energy drinks contain caffeine too. You should try to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks late in the afternoon because it takes several hours for the body to process and eliminate caffeine. And, while on the subject of what not to drink, I should mention that alcohol is known to inhibit quality sleep. If you’re waking up during the night after a night of drinking wine, the alcohol could be the culprit.
How to Sleep Better Tip #5: Find Time to Exercise.
I’ve written about the many benefits of exercise…so is there any surprise that exercise is yet another way to improve your sleep? If you want to know how to sleep better, you need to exercise regularly. And, if you want to know how to start a regular fitness routine, check out my other post too! Not only can exercise improve the quality of your sleep, but it can improve the length of your sleep. Just think about it. When you exercise, you use a ton of energy which will leave you feeling tapped out, tired, and ready to go to sleep. Just be sure not to overexercise because that can lead to insomnia, and that’s no good. Exercise is also wonderful for relieving stress and anxiety, both of which can rob you from a good night’s sleep. So what’s the moral of the story? Get moving, and start (or keep) exercising!
Now that you have your actions for this week, take some time to plan what you’re going to do. Then go forth and make it a wonderful and transformative week!
By the way, this post is part of a series called the 5 Week Body Transformation Challenge. If you haven’t committed to the 5 Week Body Transformation Challenge yet, you still can! Grab your 5 Week Body Transformation Action Plan here. Think about your goal and write it at the top of the Action Plan, and sign the form at the bottom. Check back here on the blog because I’ll add a post each week about the “Tweak of the Week”, how the change can benefit your body, and give you extra motivation.
Have a great week!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!