Guest post by Vanda Frak
Raise your hand if you’ve planned to go to sleep at a decent time in order to wake up early the next day, only to bring your phone into bed with you and be scrolling past midnight. *shamefully raises hand*. Ok, so you don't have the best bedtime habits. Admitting it is the first step.
We’ve all been there. The YouTube rabbit hole, the endless scrolling past vacation photos and engagement announcements. The consequence of that behaviour, however, is that we sleep poorly. Come morning time, we hit snooze too many times, forgo eating breakfast and rush out the door. In short, we don't put our best foot forward for the day ahead.
Getting good sleep every night is vital to your health and well being. The benefits are endless. Sleep can help you improve focus and productivity, maximize athletic performance, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, improve your immune function and more.
While most of us understand the benefits of a good sleep, many of us still struggle to get enough quality sleep. With full plates and even fuller minds, turning off for the night can be difficult. However, it is certainly not impossible.
Skip the screens
We’ve come up with a few mindful bedtime habits that you can adopt for a better night’s sleep. But, you'll need to do one key thing first: start parting ways with your electronics.
The healthiest and most mindful thing you can do for your sleep is to set a time each night when you turn off your phone, put away the laptop and stop watching TV. Regardless of how tempting it might feel to watch just one more episode of Friends. If you have a hard time committing to this habit, ask your partner or roommate to hold you accountable or make it a task that you do together to improve your nighttime routine.
Do a brain dump
You know that feeling when it’s past midnight and you’re tossing and turning because you have so much on your mind? Maybe it’s a big project at work that’s eating at you or remembering to pick up the dry cleaning or calling your accountant. Whatever it may be, make it a habit to write down your priorities for the next day as soon as you’re ready to call it a night.
Look at the calendar and see if you have any appointments the next day or any phone calls you need to make. Take a look in the fridge and see if you need to stop by the grocery store at all. Look ahead and see what milestones are coming up at work. Then, write it all down. Having a clear focus for the next day makes it very easy to relax into the evening knowing that when you wake up tomorrow you won’t be left scrambling.
Have an early dinner
Studies show that having a light dinner three to four hours before going to bed is better for your digestions and easier on your sleep. According to the National Institutes of Health, having a meal late at night can cause indigestion and interferes with your REM sleep. Eating late at night increases triglyceride levels, a type of fat found in your blood, that in turn increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. They also advise reducing alcohol intake to less than two drinks, otherwise, you will wake up more frequently throughout the night.
Read an actual book
While the temptation to check your phone or scroll just one more time before bed is there, using electronic devices at night is known to stimulate the brain and interfere with your sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, ninety percent of people in the U.S. admit to using a technological device during the hour before turning in, and children often use electronic media to help them relax at night. When you’re feeling the temptation to scroll arise, pick up a book, cozy up in bed and escape to a different world for a little while.