how to improve the quality of your sleep
Sleep is so important for our health and we can all benefit from a night of good quality sleep.
Poor sleep quality affects our immune system, mood as well as increases inflammation in our body. And according to the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) body clock, 11PM - 3AM is when our liver and gallbladder does it's housekeeping job.
Which is why when we are up at these odd hours doing stimulating activities, it's interfering with the organs' job of detoxifying the body. So put away that phone and get some rest!
That being said, here are some of the ways that I found helpful in improving the quality of my sleep.
It's useful to always unplug from any electronic devices 1 hour before our desired sleep time because if you don't already know, blue light from electronic devices (phones, computers, tv) affects our pineal gland's ability to release melatonin and therefore affecting our quality of sleep.
The pineal gland is tiny organ in the brain that releases melatonin a few hours before our regular bedtime. However, light (especially blue light), can prevent the pineal gland from releasing melatonin, thus warding off sleepiness. (source)
Therefore, always unplug from any electronic devices and leave them nowhere near your sleeping area!
2. Dim the lights
As mentioned above, any sort of light affects our pineal gland's ability to release melatonin, therefore dimming the lights around us when it's close to our bed time helps us to relax and fall asleep easier.
Try to avoid engaging in stimulating activities. Relax yourself and calm your mind by reading a book, listening to calming music or meditating before bed.
4. Keep yourself busy during the day
I find that keeping myself busy during the day helps me to fall asleep easier at night, as compared to when I am less occupied during the day.
5. Focus on breathing
When you find you can't fall asleep, it's always a good idea to focus on your breathing. When you find yourself thinking about other things, shift your focus back to your breath. Before you know it, you'll be fast asleep.
6. Keep it cool
I find that keeping my surroundings cozy makes it easier for me to fall asleep so I usually turn on the air-condition to cool down the room.
But keep in mind that if you sleep in an air-conditioned room, remember to place a bowl filled with water or turn on your humidifier to ensure it doesn't get too dry!
7. Don't stress it
If you find yourself being unable to fall asleep even after 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Go back to bed when you're feeling tired. If we stress ourselves about being unable to fall asleep, we might find it even harder to get a shut eye.
Another point is to not look at the clock even if you can't fall asleep, as I found it'll make you feel more stressed about not falling asleep. Focus on relaxing the mind and listening to the sounds around you.
8. Learn the concept of letting go
Sometimes I find myself unable to fall asleep because there's just so much going on in my mind. There are so many thoughts going on, some of them such as what I have to do tomorrow, what I should wear tomorrow etc. And the more we indulge in those thoughts, the longer we'll end up staying awake. There's just a never ending list of things to think about.
This is where we'll have to tell ourselves to let go, and leave those thoughts to tomorrow when we wake up. It might not seem as easy as it sounds, but try to shift your focus to something else such as the sound of the fan or your own breathing and try to sleep.
Another thing we could do is write down those thoughts bothering us and then put them aside till tomorrow.
9. Eating at the right timings
It is said that going to bed with a full stomach can affect our quality of sleep because it distracts us and keeps us awake. Therefore it is best to avoid eating close to bedtime and have our last meal of the day three hours before we sleep. However it can be extremely difficult to sleep when we are hungry as well, therefore if there is really no choice and you are really hungry, you could consider having a really light snack or a warm cup of beverage. This could however be prevented by having regular meals throughout the day and having our last large meal three hours before bed.
10. Candles & Scents
You could make your room cozy by lighting a candle or with essential oils. Scents such as lavender and cedar wood are both relaxing scents which would help us wind down and prepare for a good night's rest.
11. Herbal teas
I found that drinking herbal teas like tulsi tea and chamomile tea close to bedtime helped to improve my quality of sleep by allowing me to relax and calm my mind at night.
12. Epsom salt soaks
Epsom salts are rich in magnesium and magnesium is known for its relaxing and calming properties, which could greatly help in improving the quality of our sleep. You could take a warm Epsom salt bath, or if you don't have a bath tub like me, you could take Epsom salt foot soaks instead.
13. Establish a routine
Once you found yourself a comfortable night time routine, try to do it consistently every night as it signals to your body that it's close to bed time and it's time to relax.
I hope you found these little tips useful! Here’s to giving your body the quality sleep it deserves.