We all need sleep to function, but sometimes it can be hard to get enough quality rest. We might struggle to fall asleep or wake up often. There are several quick fixes for this, but the most effective solution is to form habits for better sleep.
Let’s have a look at 7 habits you can form in the evening and the daytime, to help you get better sleep.
Related: What are habits?
Why a good night of sleep is important
Sleep is the most important thing you can do for physical and mental recovery. It’s when you sleep you recharge and get ready for a new day. Some common symptoms of missing a couple of hours of sleep include:
- Shorter attention span
- Worse decision making
- Worse memory
- Reduced concentration
- Bad mood
- Intrusive thoughts
How much sleep do you need?
It varies from person to person how much sleep they need, but usually, it lies between 7-9 hours.
What is bad sleep quality?
Bad sleep quality is everything that disturbs your sleep. Two common reasons for bad sleep are trouble falling asleep and issues staying asleep.
You might experience bad sleep quality for a number of reasons. Stress, anxiety, bad habits, and past trauma are all common reasons why you have sleep issues. But no matter the cause, the following habits can help you get better rest.
Nighttime habits for good sleep
One way of improving your sleep is to create some good nighttime habits. Below are 4 of those habits which you can begin to form straight away.
Put the phone away
For many, their phone is the first thing they look for when feeling bored. Overuse of phones and social media can shorten your attention span, worsen your memory, and decrease motivation. And when used in the evening, it can affect your sleep.
Overuse of phones can cause symptoms of stress and anxiety. It can provoke a mild emergency response in the body. You’ll find it difficult to relax, and the quality of your sleep worsens.
The blue light on your phone tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, and it’ll stop releasing the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin is what helps you calm down and get ready for bed. The blue light on your phone can stop this process, and it’s difficult to fall- and stay asleep.
Try to create the habit of putting your phone away in the evening. The optimal is two hours before bedtime, but less can also be beneficial.
Related: How to break bad habits
Practice mindfulness before bed
When you practice mindfulness, you practice being in the present. You stop reacting to every single thought, and you’ll feel calmer. Creating the habit of practicing mindfulness can help you feel happier, more relaxed, and sleep better.
Meditation, breathwork, and gentle yoga are some of the best habits in the evening to practice mindfulness and get better sleep.
All three activities have slightly different benefits, but can all be helpful. Try them, and see what works for you.
Related: How to form good habits
Keep a journal
Journaling is a great tool to calm your mind and stop overthinking. This makes it a great habit to do before you go to bed. There are several kinds of journaling. Here are two of the best to do in the evening for good sleep.
A thought journal is a journal where you write down whatever is on your mind. It’s so simple, that it can be confusing.
All you have to do is to write whatever comes to your mind and just keep writing until your head feels empty or you don’t want to write anymore. Don’t think about grammar or structure. That doesn’t matter here. Follow the train of thought and see where it takes you.
When you’re done, your mind will be calmer, and your rest will be better. You can do this on nights when you can’t calm down, but its benefits are best when it’s done every night.
The feeling of not having (done) enough can cause many restless nights. You might feel that you haven’t studied enough for the exam, need more money, or won’t get enough sleep since you have to get up early. When you feel that you don’t have enough, your body will activate the emergency response to ensure that you can go out and get it.
With a gratitude journal, you’ll focus on the things you have. Maybe you’re grateful for your family, friends, a pet, an achievement, or a kind stranger. Something as simple as a bed, a roof over your head, and food in the fridge are worth being grateful for. When you begin to feel grateful for what you have, your body will calm down, and you can sleep better.
The more you practice gratitude, the easier it’ll be to feel. And the easier you feel it, the better the effect.
Create a bedtime routine
If you follow the same schedule most days, you might have noticed that your body has adapted to (some of) your routines. You get hungry around the time you usually eat, feel energized when you should be at work, and wake up when your alarm normally goes off. If you begin to scroll every time you hit the bed, you won’t be tired, and you’ll find that sleeping is hard. On the other hand, if you create a good bedtime routine, sleep will come easier.
The routine can be something small as brushing your teeth, flushing, setting your alarm, and then going to bed. It can be something that takes hours, starting with dinner or anything in between.
The important thing isn’t how many habits you have stuffed into your nighttime routine but that you have a ritual to let yourself know that it’s time to sleep.
Daytime habits for good sleep
How you spend your day can have a great impact on how you sleep at night. Below are 4 daytime habits for better sleep.
Most mental and physical problems can be improved with an exercise routine, and sleep is no different. While exercising have many benefits that can aid sleep, one of them is the regulation of hormones.
Exercise can reduce levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. When the body releases less of these hormones, symptoms of stress and anxiety will decrease, and it will be easier for the body to relax.
Physical exercise increases the production of a hormone called endorphins, also called the body’s natural painkillers. This hormone makes you feel less pain, decrease stress, and improves your mood.
Many see exercising as something unpleasant, but the changes it can bring to your life are worth it. Especially when you’ve passed the first few weeks.
To make it easier to form the habit, you can find an activity you enjoy. This can be weightlifting, running, swimming, martial arts, or any team sport you enjoy.
Related: Keystone habits
Spend time outside
When you spend your days inside with artificial light, you can throw your internal rhythms off. When your internal rhythm is off, your body doesn’t know when it’s time to rest, and the sleep quality will suffer.
When you’re exposed to sunlight, the body’s rhythm “resets,” and it will be easier to fall asleep at night.
Spending time outside is a great daytime habit for sleep and can easily be done in combination with exercising.
Don’t spend time in your bed
Some people spend the majority of their time in their beds. They watch tv, spend time on their phone, do homework/work, and many other things. And sure, the bed might be the most comfortable piece of furniture in your home. But while it seems harmless to live in your bed, it can hurt your sleep.
When you spend too much time in bed, you get used to something happening while you’re there. That you’ll get some reward. This anticipation makes it difficult to shut down for the night, and you’ll often find yourself unable to sleep. Instead, you end up on your phone or with Netflix until you fall asleep.
Break the habit of spending time in bed unless you’re going to sleep. Over time, you can teach yourself that the bed is for sleeping, and the quality of your sleep will improve.
Related: Discover your bad habits
Not getting enough sleep can cause worse mental and physical performance and a worse mood. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Some of the best nighttime habits you can form for better sleep are no phones in the evening, practicing mindfulness, journaling, and creating a bedtime routine.
Some of the best daytime habits for better sleep are exercise, spending time outside, and don’t spend time in bed.
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