If you’re quite literally tired of taking two or three hours to drift off when you’ve been in bed patiently awaiting sweet sleep, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors against us when it comes to getting that quality shut-eye—whether that’s just arriving there or staying there until morning. Cut out these practices to help pave the way.
Why: We all know screens are bad for us, and that’s because blue light blocks our melatonin receptors. Quit the late night scrolling and show binging as a form of lullaby, and turn off screens 60-90 minutes before crawling into bed.
What to do instead: Try self massage and reading with a red reading light (not bright bedroom lights) to help produce melatonin. You’ll be out like a … light.
Rely on caffeine for energy
Why: It’s a helluva drug, But no, we don’t mean forever—just not past 11am, if you can help it.
What to do instead: If you need a boost in the afternoon, try a walk or something else that gets blood and oxygen flowing, and skip the uppers that come with a pricey half-life—aka a restless night.
Why: We get it, intermittent fasting is effective. But if you find yourself jolting awake around 3 a.m. every night when your last meal clocked in at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., your blood sugar may be crashing and waking you up to tell you it’s time to fuel.
What to do instead: Deep, restorative rest takes energy, so give yourself a little healthy fat and glucose in the evenings to keep energy stores at a healthy level. No big meals, just a snack like yogurt or peanut butter will do the trick. It won’t make you gain weight.
Listen to your favorite dance jams
Why: Sound is vibration, and vibes set the tone. If you listen to upbeat music in the evening, you amp yourself up.
What to do instead: Listen to gentle, calming music: instrumentals, piano, or even binaural beats to tell your brain and body it’s time to wind down.
Make your to-do list before bed
Why: You might think you’re being proactive and setting yourself up for your day tomorrow, but save that for the morning or earlier in the afternoon so that you don’t start stressing about tasks you can’t do at the bedtime hour.
What to do instead: Journal for a few minutes or practice some peaceful visualization to calm your adrenals and get your mind off work.
Why: High intensity training seems like it would wear you out for the evening. But it actually gives the body a boost of energy, blood flow, and cortisol, which can have your mind racing.
What to do instead: Keep movement mellow, like an after-dinner walk or some deep yin yoga before bed.
Try to make up for lost sleep time
Why: Our bodies acclimate best to a sleep rhythm or routine, so going to bed extra-early to make up for a late night before—or sleeping late—will actually mess with your sleep cycle even more.
What to do instead: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every evening and morning to get your body acclimated to a schedule. After a while, your body will know when it’s time to shut down, which makes falling and staying asleep easier in the future.
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