A recently published study shows that 7 out of 10 – or 70% – of people in the United States aren’t getting enough restorative sleep.
That means even if someone is spending 7-8+ hours in bed every night, the average person isn’t getting the ROI – return on investment – that they deserve when it comes to sleep.
You’ve probably experienced the feeling of waking up after 6, 7, 8 or even more hours of sleep… only to STILL feel exhausted.
The funny thing about sleep is that it’s not all created equal.
Your eyes could be closed and your body could technically be resting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting high-quality, restorative rest.
When I was struggling with crippling chronic fatigue syndrome, no matter how much I slept it was never enough… I still felt like cr*p and couldn’t even drag myself through the day.
I was completely out of commission.
With all the health and wellness resources available to us today, fatigue and sleep trouble are still the biggest complaints we hear all the time.
Whether it’s a colleague, barista, or family member… almost everyone complains about feeling tired at least a few times a week.
If you’re struggling with sleep or simply want to learn more practical strategies to help your loved ones or clients improve their sleep, today’s post is for you.
We’re sharing 10 ways you can deepen your sleep, so that your time spent in bed pays off, as it should:
- Finish your last meal of the day at least 2 hours before bedtime.
When your body is working to digest your food, it’s hard to wind down.
It’s like there’s a million little workers running around in your body, breaking down and absorbing nutrients.
If you give yourself 2-3 hours to digest before bed, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster, experience a deeper level of sleep, and wake up refreshed.
- Avoid blue light after the sun goes down.
Blue light, the type of light that comes from electronics like your computer, TV, tablet, or smartphone, blocks melatonin, a natural hormone that helps you fall asleep.
The sooner you can power down after dark, the more likely you are to experience restorative sleep and wake up ready to take on the day.
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
High temperatures can inflame the body, making it harder for your organs to calm down so that you can sleep.
Keeping your room cool and dark with a fan, air conditioner, and/or black-out curtains should improve your sleep.
Whenever possible, natural, oxygen-rich air is best.
That might mean opening your windows during the day, and if you have screens, leaving them open at night.
- Consider reducing alcohol consumption.
Alcohol disrupts your internal clock that says “It’s sleep time!”
It also interferes with melatonin production.
When your liver is working hard to detox alcohol – a toxin – it’s very difficult to fall asleep.
Even though alcohol can make you very tired, the quality of sleep you get after drinking is lower than usual, because your body is working hard to get rid of the toxins.
After a night of drinking, your body isn’t truly resting, even though you’re passed out.
- Evaluate the role of caffeine in your life.
You’ve probably reached for a coffee in the late afternoon, or even after dinner, to help you power through work… only to find yourself awake at 2am.
Caffeine creates a temporary fight-or-flight response, where the nervous system produces cortisol and you feel high. A few hours later, you crash.
A net loss in energy is the result, since coming back from the fight-or-flight response takes more energy than it creates.
What you’re actually feeling after you drink coffee is adrenaline – not everyday energy.
Adrenaline is usually reserved for emergency situations, and while it is a type of energy, it’s very short lived and ultimately taxes your system if produced too often.
Consuming too much caffeine for your unique body can ultimately lead to wacky energy patterns.
For example, you may be exhausted in the afternoon then wired at 10pm.
If this is happening to you, it means your body is running on caffeine versus true nutrients and sleep.
- Explore supplements like magnesium and melatonin.
Magnesium and melatonin have a calming effect that can help facilitate restorative sleep.
Both supplements quiet the nervous system by activating neurotransmitters that are responsible for sleep.
Magnesium also supports digestion, which is key to good sleep.
- Make sure you’re getting enough exercise.
It’s important to “use up” your energy each day.
If you’re not getting enough activity, especially heart-pumping exercise, it’s possible that your body just isn’t tired enough at night.
If you don’t exercise at all right now – or rarely – try adding in at least three 30-minute walks per week.
If you do exercise, experiment with different styles and intensities, and notice which ones help you sleep better.
Cardio is often the key here – running, biking, swimming, or anything else that gets your heart rate up in a significant way.
- Create a sleep schedule, and stick to it.
The body likes routine.
When you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, you create a habit that your body gets used to.
After a couple weeks, you’ll naturally feel tired at your usual time, and wake up around the same time.
It takes some discipline to create a sleep schedule, but after a couple weeks it becomes like muscle memory – your body just knows.
- Clear out anxiety and overwhelm before bed.
One of the biggest reasons people have trouble falling asleep is because of racing, anxious thoughts.
If that’s you, we recommend doing a brain dump before bed.
Take your journal or a piece of paper and write down everything that’s on your mind, stream of conscience.
Don’t edit yourself – just jot down whatever comes to mind.
It can also be helpful to write out a to-do list, if you’re thinking about all the things you need to accomplish the next day.
Once it’s all out on paper, you can stop thinking about it and sleep easy, because you know you won’t forget anything.
- Expose yourself to natural sunlight in the morning.
Getting natural sunlight in the morning can actually improve your sleep at night.
Sun exposure increases serotonin, the happiness hormone which is also key to sleep, and many other core functions of the body.
Sunlight plays a huge role in regulating your sleep cycle, because it tells you that it’s daytime, and it’s time to be active.
It’s recommended by some experts that you get 30-45 minutes of direct sunlight within an hour of waking up.
If you have any concerns about your skin or eyes, please check in with your doctor first.
Whether you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up energized, these tools should make a big difference in your sleep, and in your life.
Why is sleep so important?
We spend about one third of our lives sleeping, and it’s not because we’re lazy little puppies.
Your time spent in bed should be producing a massive ROI – return on investment.
Sleep gives you the energy and focus you need to excel in your career and truly enjoy your life with full presence and enthusiasm.
Trying to run on fumes – like caffeine and energy drinks – is futile.
The work you produce and the connections you make will be on a whole other level when your sleep is truly restorative.
You should wake up energized and ready to take on the day – that’s your natural state and your birthright as a human.
If your experience is anything less than that, focus on just three of the tools we’ve shared today for two weeks, and notice if your sleep improves.
From there you can experiment with adding in more of these strategies, as you feel called.
I ultimately needed bioenergetics to restore my energy, since I was completely burned out….
… but if you’re experiencing a lower level of fatigue or insomnia, it’s very likely that the tools we’ve shared today will restore your quality of sleep.
I hope these strategies serve you deeply!
Founder, NES Health