Time for bed: 5 easy ways to finally establish a healthy sleep schedule
Summer is an amazing time.
It is filled with bright evenings and slow mornings and time off, and we all just lower our shoulders and live for the moment, free of schedules and school mornings and strict routines.
However, what this also means is that come back to school time, let's just say most of our sleep schedules – and routines in general – are a bit all over the place.
I don't know about you, but I have been staying up way later than I should, soaking in the delicious bright evenings. I'm not really one for sleeping in, preferring to rise early, but by staying up later, this means I have definitively not been getting as much sleep as I need, and much as I always mourn summer coming to an end, I am also looking forward to getting my life back into more of a routine, and, hopefully, feeling more rested come morning.
Feel like your sleep rhythm is out of whack too? Here are five easy changes to make this week that'll slowly, but surely ensure you get enough sleep and your energy back:
1. Get up with the sun
Much as technology has changed all our lives, biologically, we are still the same inside as our great-great-grandparents. Meaning, we are designed to rise with the sun, and go to bed when it gets dark outside and our bodies naturally start producing melatonin to make us feel sleepy.
By waking up early and exposing ourselves to natural light, we kick-start our natural circadian rhythm, making us feel awake and energised for the day, and ensuring that when it gets to the appropriate time at night, we start to feel sleepy and ready for bed.
What this means is that you should wake up early. And get as much light straight away as you can. Open the curtains, step out into the garden, go for a run or walk, or just sit on your balcony and drink your morning coffee, whatever it is, do it – your internal clock and sleep habits will thank you for it.
2. Eat dinner early
Summer holidays have a tendency to push dinner time into later in the evening too, but if you eat too late, you are not giving your body enough time to properly digest the meal before you go to bed. This can result in disturbed sleep and will also possibly ruin your breakfast, as you won't feel hungry straight away when you wake up.
Instead, get into the habit of having dinner earlier, according to the National Sleep Foundation, at least two-three hours before your bedtime, so that your body has a chance to digest most of it before it's lights out. This goes for children as well. Eating too close to bedtime can have a disruptive effect on everyone.
3. Be consistent
As tempting as it can be to hit the snooze buttons some mornings, or to have a lie-in come the weekend, changing up your sleep schedule can have a negative effect and make you struggle to go to sleep and get up early during the week. Instead, set your alarm to the same time every morning, and get up when it goes off. Create a little morning routine you look forward to every morning, be it your creamy morning latte or hot lemon water to sip up while you're dry brushing before your shower. Whatever makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning, do that.
Waking up and getting out of bed at the same time every day is beneficial to your body, and the routine will help you throughout the day as your body tires out and prepares for an earlier bedtime.
4. Make your bedroom the perfect sleeping space
Your bedroom should promote rest. It should be the type of place you walk into and immediately feel relaxed and calm, and ready for bed. What this means, is that clutter and mess have no place in the bedroom. When you get up in the morning, get into the habit of always making your bed. Not only because it makes it less likely that you'll be tempted to mess it up by crawling back into it, but also because it will make you feel pulled together and ready for the day, and also it will make that much more lovely to get into bed at the end of the day.
Put away clothes, and aim to deep-clean your bedroom at least once or twice a month. Invest in a high-quality duvet and pillows, and make sure you change up your mattress at least every 10 years, and your pillows every two years. Add in a green plant or two, as these will do wonders for the air in your bedroom, and, if you can, leave the window open for a few hours every day to change out the air and make the room feel fresh and healthy for getting into bed.
Last, but not least, invest in some really good bedlinens for your bed. Linen and organic cotton are your best options, as these are natural fabrics that will lead sweat and damp away from your body. Opt for colours that are soothing and relaxing too, I personally always have white linens on my bed, as it makes it feel like a luxurious hotel bed – which is my absolute favourite place to sleep.
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5. Adjust your lighting
Just like we by biology are designed to rise with the sun, we are also designed to get tired when the world around us gets darker. The problem? Today we are surrounded by artificial light, both the ones in our homes, but even more so these days, from our many and ever-present gadgets.
Instead, to let your body do what it is designed to do, as the sun starts to set, dim the lights in your house, and put your gadgets away. You don't need to sit in the dark, by all means, but try to avoid bright overhead lights, and reduce or eliminate time spent on your phone or computer at least two hours before bedtime. Try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible, this will make sure you're not suddenly left feeling more awake again as you are getting into bed. If you can, leave your phone as far away from your bed as possible, so that you are not woken up by screens that light up through the night.
What are YOUR best tips for better sleep? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @herfamilydotie