With the New Year just ringing in, most of us are taking advantage of the change of date to improve some daily habits. At the risk of sounding cliche and setting myself up for failure, I am not going to call it a resolution, but simply a goal, which is to get better sleep.
I am a content writer during the day, which means a good six to eight hours of my workday is spent staring into the blue light emitted from my computer screen. After my day job (and sometimes before) I work out. It could be running, cycling, swimming, or just lifting weights, but I try to sweat hard every single day. I know I called it a“workout,” but I really think of it more as“training.”I’m not necessarily training for anything specific—though I did just finish a marathon—but I can’t just take it easy, which is the reason that I use a sports watch. Lately, I’ve been testing out the APEX and it’s been pretty dang good.
Between work and training, I’m left tired yet wired, a deadly combination when it comes to bedtime. As much as I know that I need adequate sleep the night before to have my peak performing both physically and mentally the next day, I find myself watching too much television or tinkering around the house late at night more often than I’d like.
This usually always leaves me either tossing and turning in bed instead of sleeping, waking up through the night, or waking up feeling like I haven’t slept at all, even if I got the recommended seven to eight hours.
For the record also, I know how long I’ve slept and the quality of my sleep by checking out the data in the COROS app. It’s sort of a double-edged sword. I want to look so I know how my sleep was, but I also sometimes don’t want to know because it can be such an accurate predictor of the day ahead.
Anyways, in an effort to reach my goal of getting more consistent restful sleep, I am going to implement a few new rituals to make bedtime more fun, and leave less time for scrolling, which will hopefully lead to some better quality snoozing. Feel free to adopt these into your bedtime routines, too, if you’re also looking to up your sleep game in the new year.
More restful sleep can also help you with your training. There are all sorts of studies that demonstrate how important sleep is to physical performance. Your attention span, response times, and energy levels are all directly impacted by the quality of your sleep.
Associate bedtime with a scent
This is a novel idea I picked up that will help your brain to learn to wind down. The scent is one of our most powerful senses. Through the power of essential oils, I’ve decided to make my “sleepy time scent” a mix of lavender and sweet marjoram.
Stick with me on this one.
I plan to use a diffuser—which is pretty cheap—and diffuse these essential oils in my room for 30 minutes before bedtime, so while I’m washing my face and brushing my teeth, my room is being filled with the scent. I am also going to fill a little spray bottle with some of the essential oils, a teaspoon of witch hazel, and water. I’ll spray this all over my sheets and pillows and then read in bed for a bit. I’m hoping that eventually, I can train my brain to recognize the scent to mean that we’re winding down for bedtime.
I know this sounds funny, but it’s an easy way to trick your body into falling asleep sooner. Don’t just brush it aside—give it a try even if it sounds odd.
Make my bed comfortable
On top of that, I plan on getting more pillows(probably just some $4 ones from Wally-World, I’m not a pillow snob)and investing in some high-thread-count sheets. I want my bed to be all white, like a clean cloud, but if that isn’t your style, go for something in a fun color or pattern. Much like new workout clothes can make you more inspired for that spin class, new bedding will make you actually want to lay in your own bed. What a concept!
Start a journal
To be honest, this will be hard to stick to, but I’ve read plenty about the improvements people make to their sleep schedule simply by keeping a journal. So, what the heck! I’ll try it out.
Dreams happen during the later stages of our sleep cycles, which are called deep sleep and REM sleep. So essentially, more dreaming means better quality sleep! To foster this, I plan on keeping a dream journal(don’t make fun of me!)next to my bed and jotting down my dreams as soon as I wake up, even if it’s just some key images. And if I had something happen during the day that is keeping me awake,I can write about that, too. Sometimes writing down the thoughts spinning in our heads can help us purge them, letting sleep come more easily after.
Again, I personally am a little iffy on this one, but I’m willing to try it.
Use light to manage my circadian rhythms
Much like blue light from our technology screens can prevent us from sleeping, some studies have shown that red light can aid in melatonin production.
Thankfully, there are light bulbs on the market that minimize blue light wavelengths and maximize red ones, without the notorious Amsterdam vibes.
On top of this, I’m going to start sleeping with my curtains open, so that natural daylight can fill my room in the morning, signaling my brain it’s time to wake up. I’m hoping this will help me want to get out of bed to go train—there’s just something about seeing the outside world that makes me want to run or bike.
Practice healthier habits during the day
As much excitement as I have for my nighttime routine of essential oils and nicer sheets, I realize that your daytime habits starting as early as noon can affect your sleep that night.
Circling back to my day job, I have invested in a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses, to cut down on my exposure during the day. I also am giving up naps, as they can hinder nighttime sleep, as well.
Look, at the end of the day, I’m just trying to improve myself. I know sleep is important and I’m sick of lousy training sessions. I know this stuff will help—if I can stick to it!
This post was written by Kelsie Longerbeam and Jeff Rizzo from RIZKNOWS