Four Effective Ways to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

Four Effective Ways to Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

Quality sleep is one of the most fundamental pillars of wellbeing. By slowing down for the night, our bodies are able to focus their energy on processing waste, digesting stress hormones and other toxins, and restoring the nervous system for healthy brain functioning.


However, our modern world often encourages us to neglect our sleep hygiene. If you’re feeling at odds with your basic need to recharge, these four scientifically backed exercises may help you achieve the quality rest that you deserve.

1. Safeguard your bedroom as a sanctuary for rest.

Let’s face it: we all love cuddling up in bed to watch a movie at night. 

And in addition to a home theater, some of our bedrooms may also be functioning as a home office, art studio, or home gym. These activities can also introduce snacks, or even full-scale meals, into our bedroom.

However, studies show that reserving the bedroom specifically for sleeping and sex trains your brain to enter a restful state when entering that space. In fact, this is a commonly used intervention among psychologists when working with insomnia patients.

Another aspect of this intervention is cultivating an atmosphere in the bedroom that is comfortable and inviting. 

Consider the quality of your mattress, pillows, sheets, pajamas, and air circulation. Adjusting the room temperature and lighting can also make a difference. You may also wish to experiment with the effects of aromatherapy, using a candle or essential oil diffuser to further set a tone of relaxation.

2. Put away all electronics one hour before going to bed.

The amount of exposure we have to light, and the types of light we are exposed to, directly affects our circadian rhythm. This function is essentially our body’s internal clock and is responsible for regulating our cycles of rest and activity. 

Researchers have found that the blue light emitted by our laptops, phones, tablets, and television screens disrupts this cycle by blocking production of the hormone melatonin. This neurotransmitter is the main chemical in our brain responsible for lulling us to sleep at night.

Avoiding all screens within the last hour before you go to bed gives your body time to produce the melatonin that is needed for you to fall asleep at your desired time. Instead of watching the latest episode of your favorite show right before bed, consider using that time to read a book, journal, or engage in a mindful practice like yoga or qigong.

3. Show your body some tenderness.

Taking some time to relieve the muscle tension that builds up from our daily activities can greatly support the body’s ability to relax. 

Oftentimes, we don’t even realize how tight we are until we stop moving. As we sleep, our aches and pains can begin to set in and cause us to toss and turn throughout the night. This can also leave us feeling cramped and strained when we wake up in the morning. 

Take a few minutes before bed to sit still and conduct a mental body scan. By directing your full attention to one body part at a time, you may discover areas where you are clenching that were previously overlooked in favor of the tasks that needed to be accomplished.

Stretching, self massage, and deep breathing are all helpful in releasing these tight areas. Massage oils with herbal infusions are also a wonderful asset to have on hand to support this process.

If you have time for a soak, a hot epsom salt bath is also very effective at loosening up the body. 

4. Allow your mind to unwind.

One of the main things that keeps people up at night is a racing mind. 

Sometimes we are riddled with anxiety, but many times we are simply reliving yesterday’s events or fantasizing about potential futures. Our minds have the amazing ability to store information, analyze, and imagine new realities, but these highly intelligent processes can create more difficulty in our lives if we are unable to tone them down when needed.

The best way to declutter your mind is to concentrate on one specific thing and allow everything else to fade into background noise. This is the premise of meditation, where the point of focus is usually the breath. 

There are also meditations that incorporate structured breathing exercises that activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates our experience of relaxation. You can choose to do these exercises on your own, or stream a free guided meditation available online.

Experiment with multiple strategies to find what works best for you, and be patient with yourself as your needs will likely change from day to day.

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