A major life event can take a toll on almost anything – relationships, diet, daily routine, and definitely sleep. The end of one can be even worse, as you’re stuck with bad habits that have become second nature in your life. After spending my last two years of college sleeping only three to five hours a night, I knew it was a system I wanted and desperately needed to fix.
Sleep plays a vital part in our lives. Lack of sleep can lead to depression, anxiety, unhealthy eating habits, dark circles, and poor health. In extreme cases, sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations and heart disease, according to WebMD. Here are 10 ways to fix your sleep routine and get your life back in control before it’s too late.
1. Put your devices away
An article from Sleep.org explains how a blue light emitted from laptops, computers, phones, tablets, and even game consoles can reduce your body’s natural melatonin and trick your brain into thinking it needs to stay awake. Don’t stare at any digital devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
2. Take melatonin supplements or drink tea
A natural solution to induce sleepiness is melatonin or noncaffeinated tea. Anywhere from 2-12 mg of melatonin can be taken at bedtime, but consult a doctor to be safe. Melatonin is naturally produced in our body as a hormone that controls the sleep cycle. Chamomile tea, often nicknamed the “sleep tea,” is another natural solution to bring about drowsiness. A cup daily before bedtime can relax the mind and body.
3. Have “me-time”
Instead of spending your last 30 minutes before bedtime on a device, take the opportunity to pamper yourself and de-stress. Apply a face or eye mask and lay down with a cup of tea. Avoid strenuous activity or overthinking. No matter how the day went, be thankful and forget your worries to savor this moment. You deserve it! Taking the time to switch from work to relaxation mode can help prepare you for sleep and reduce stress.
4. Tire yourself out
If you have a ton of energy around bedtime, try tiring yourself out during the day. One of the best ways to exhaust excess energy is to perform any form of exercise (my favorite is swimming.) A 2013 poll from the National Sleep Foundation found a positive correlation between exercise and a good night’s sleep. Don’t overdo yourself; if you’re not used to exercising, start with a 10-minute walk and slowly work your way up. A little exercise can make a huge impact on your sleep quality.
5. Resist the urge to nap
A nap can be extremely tempting during a long day and is probably the cause of most ruined sleep cycles (including mine.) I repeat. Do. Not. Nap. As heartless as it sounds, a nap afternoon can disrupt your sleeping pattern and cause you to go to bed at an unideal time. A 30-minute nap can quickly turn into a three-hour nap. Break the cycle and resist the urge by going outside or planning an event with friends to keep you occupied and your mind off of how tired you are.
6. Track your sleep cycle with an app
Ever sleep for a long time and wake up more tired than before you went to bed? This is the result of waking up without completing a full cycle of sleep. Install a sleeping app to calculate what time you should wake up to ensure you don’t disrupt your sleep cycle. While these apps are not 100 percent accurate, they do a great job of helping you set an alarm depending on what time you go to sleep.
7. Change your room décor
A change in environment can go hand-in-hand with the end of a major life event. Buying a new comforter or rearranging your room can make your bedroom appear new. It’s a representation of your new life in the form of a physical change. This can trick your mind into associating old sleep habits with your past room and make it easier to implement new changes in your routine.
8. Opt for a white or pink noise machine
Sometimes, a little noise is all you need. A white noise machine, like a fan, can block out any outdoor noise and make it easier to sleep. A pink noise, which is noise similar to a steady heartbeat, however, has been scientifically proven to help participants sleep up to 25 percent better than white noise, according to an article from AlenCorp. In the end, it’s up to personal preference. Regardless, buying a white or pink noise machine can help block out any sounds which can be disrupting your sleep.
9. Fix your diet
Your diet shows in your habits. Life events that cause stress usually create a bad diet, as well. A diet of processed, high-calorie junk food is guaranteed to make you feel lethargic and more prone to naps in the day and irregular sleep patterns. Eating cleaner, healthier options and replacing sodas and juices with water will help guarantee a good rest and will make your more active during the day.
10. Seek medical attention
If all else fails, consult a doctor. Sleep is too important to be ignored. A doctor can diagnose you if you have a medical condition and prescribe better medication or tips suited to your concerns. Don’t wait until your problems escalate. Seek medical attention if your sleepless nights persist for more than 2 weeks.
Once you’ve regained control over your sleep, try your best not to let it go astray again. Consistency is key in keeping a proper sleep pattern going and guaranteeing a healthier life.
Featured photo credit: Benjamin Combs via hd.unsplash.com