The quality of our rest is one of the most important aspects of our overall health, and when disrupted it can have serious consequences. In a world that is more fast-paced than ever, stress, exhaustion and burnout are fast becoming a real problem that few people understand how to solve.
The fact that we are surrounded by screens, and constantly being bombarded with notifications, emails, messages and calls has made relaxation very difficult to find, and sleep more broken and sparse than ever.
If you’re struggling with feeling tired and unrested or having difficulty sleeping, there can be many serious problems if it is left untreated. Poor rest can make you less productive, stressed, irritable, depressed and can also lead to physical symptoms such as low energy, weight changes and even changes to the skin. Increased levels of cortisol can play havoc with your immune system and can lead to you becoming run down and totally burned out.
There are things you can do to avoid this outcome, and for most people, a few key changes to your routine and behaviour can yield amazing results, improving the quality of your sleep and relieving much of the stress in getting enough rest.
Things to try
Here are some of the best things you can try to improve your sleep and feel more rested as you go to sleep and as you wake up, helping you to feel more energised and start improving your sleep health.
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of good rest is making sure that you actually need to rest. Many jobs today have people stuck at desks for long hours, and even our leisure time is often spent in a sedentary position.
This can make our brains feel tired but our bodies feel pent up and full of unused energy, which can lead to restlessness and stress as well as hormonal changes.
Fitting some exercise into your daily routine will have huge benefits, not only for your physical fitness and mental wellbeing but also on how easily you’re able to rest.
Working out even moderately can make us feel a sense of accomplishment and the stress release that comes with this makes it much easier to indulge in our rest. The exertion also uses up energy and helps prevent restlessness as you settle down to sleep.
Reduce Screen Time
Another key thing is to reduce your screen time, particularly in the evening or as you begin settling in before bed.
The harsh blue light of most screens can stress out your eyes and oftentimes we’re spending our time reading stressful or endlessly bleak news about the world around us. Getting away from this before bed is key to entering a more relaxed state of mind before sleep and preparing yourself for rest.
Think of it this way, when a sprinter wants to run 100 metres they don’t just start sprinting immediately. They warm their bodies up, preparing their muscles and joints for what they’re about to do. This goes for most sports and the same goes for resting. We have to prepare our bodies for rest, winding down and allowing our brains to enter a less intense status in order to fall asleep more easily and improve the quality of the sleep we get.
Wash your bedding
Regularly washing your pillows and bedding is a great way to create a more inviting environment and makes you far more likely to actually want to switch off your screens and settle into bed. Relaxing scents can also help your sense of well being and help you to feel more relaxed as you prepare for sleep.
Use a Sleep App
While it’s possible for sleep apps to conflict with getting away from screens before bed, they can be useful to track your habits and begin changing them which will ultimately help you get control of your sleep schedule and begin to organize it properly. This is really important, as scientists are only beginning to discover the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule. Current theories suggest that an irregular or inconsistent sleep schedule can have dreadful effects on your body and mind, increasing the risk of many different serious diseases and putting a lot of strain on your mental health.
Much like how a good sleep schedule is paramount, so too is a good dietary schedule. Eating food too late in the day revs up your metabolism and energises your body, essentially fuelling yourself up for activity just when you’re trying to prepare your body to relax. Raising your blood sugar before bed can make you restless and makes it far easier for our brains to start switching off.
Avoid Sleeping In/Getting too Much Sleep
Just as not enough sleep will ruin your rest, too much sleep can also have a dreadful effect on your sleep schedule and overall quality of life. Oversleeping can throw off your circadian rhythm which as mentioned above is understood to be critical to maintaining good overall health.
Keep Your Room Dark and Cool
One of the other problems which can disturb your sleep is light pollution and being disturbed too early by the morning light. If you’re struggling to get to sleep, making sure your room is as dark as possible and rather cool before you sleep is really important as this promotes the release of hormones that tell your body and brain it’s time to get ready for sleep.
Listen to Relaxing Soundscapes
Listening to relaxing sounds or meditation/hypnosis before sleep can do wonders for your sleep quality, helping you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer by preventing overthinking and stressful thoughts before you sleep.
Be sure to set your phone up to turn off after a certain amount of time or use a proper sleep-friendly application to make sure you aren’t disturbed once you do fall asleep.
If none of this works and you are still struggling with getting enough rest, it may be time to consider seeing a Dr. and getting some advice on what may be causing these issues, as well as preventing more serious health problems which can stem from this.