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5 shortcuts to better sleep

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

We’ve all experienced it. Nights we can’t fall asleep, or can’t fall back to sleep. Sometimes it is a one-off and sometimes it seems like a never-ending string of nights. Whatever the case, I hope these tips help.

Resist big meals or large amounts of alcohol

Digestion takes several hours to complete. Going to bed after a big meal puts your body at odds with itself, between you trying to sleep and the energy it needs to process the meal. Alcohol, though, can make you sleepy, reduces REM sleep, and exacerbates breathing problems like sleep apnea.

Go to bed at the same time each night

Yes, even when you don’t have to rise with the rooster. Do you have a pet? Do they seem to “hit the wall” at a certain time every night? I don’t know about you but my dog can’t tell time, but she knows when it is time to sleep. You can teach your physiology to do the same thing.

Create a ritual

This tip works for many aspects of life and you likely have rituals surrounding things you don’t even think about being rituals. What I am suggesting is that you create a very deliberate ritual around preparing for sleep. In my house, we enjoy a cup of specific herbal tea, while my dog lays next to me in my recliner. This is every night. About the time I finish my tea, my body is ready for bed. Your ritual maybe a hot bath or shower. Perhaps reading (though I would suggest you don’t do that in bed). Find what works to gear your vehicle down.

Don’t underestimate the power of an eye mask

The obvious reason that these often work is that they block out all artificial lighting that may put your body in conflict with sleep. The other piece is that putting on your eye mask may be part of your bedtime routine, which further helps to signal your body to sleep.

Yoga and Pranayama (breathwork)

Regular yoga practice has been shown help sleep (along with most other aspects of life). What I want to focus on here is working with our breath, or in Sanskrit called Pranayama. Many techniques can be learned. This tool is particularly helpful on nights when you just can’t quiet your mind. Pranayama can be part of a yoga or meditation practice or can be a practice on its own. Find a yoga teacher who can help you find what tool works for you.

We all need to sleep. Quality sleep is not only essential to our physical health but for our mental and emotional health as well. Use these or other lifestyle changes to get your needed shut-eye.

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