Guides

The Ultimate Guide To Sleep

Sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity!

By: Lexy Parsons

Imagine climbing into bed, closing your eyes, and drifting off to sleep. No disturbances, no tossing and turning, just a full night of rest. It almost sounds… luxurious, doesn’t it? As if it were too good to be true? The truth is, we should be getting this quality of rest every single night. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests the average adult needs a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night, though 9 to 11 hours of sleep may be appropriate.

Sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity! According to a 2016 study, 1 and 3 American’s report they are sleep deprived. What’s more? Out of the Americans that do sleep within these recommended hours, 35% report poor sleep quality. We get it — life happens, and we aren’t always able to control when our head hits the pillow, but developing a good sleep routine is essential to getting the deep Zs that you need and deserve. If you’re tired of being tired, we have the top sleep tips that will have you sleeping like a baby. 

The Importance of Sleep

Consider any area in your life that you want to improve — you’d be surprised how much sleep can affect it! Is weight loss your goal? Well, studies show increased sleep reduces hunger cravings while sleep deprivation, on the other hand, promotes fat storage. Are you working on lowering your stress levels? You guessed it, research suggests hitting the snooze button can help with that too.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, any amount of sleep below the recommended minimum of 7 hours is associated with declines in immune function, performance, and overall well being. Sleep deprivation increases the risk for weight gain, illness, and disease, and can even impact hormone health and mood. Needless to say, sleep is essential! 

If we’ve convinced you to hit the hay, it may not be as simple as turning out the lights. When it comes to sleep quality and sleep quantity, many factors are at play. Good news — we’ll give you all the do’s and don’ts to perfect your sleep hygiene, along with the best sleep tips. 

4 Habits That May Decrease Sleep Quality 

Technology Into the Bedroom 

Make your sleep environment a technology-free zone! This is one of the best sleep tips to improve your nightly routine. When you step into your bedroom, think of it as an opportunity to shut out the outside world. This is your time to relax and unwind as your body transitions into rest and digest mode. When you bring technology into the bedroom (think: your phone, computer, or TV) you’re also inviting in external stimuli. The body misinterprets this stimuli and shifts into a sympathetic state, which according to research, results in shorter sleep duration, low sleep efficiency, and insomnia. 

Caffeine Late In The Day 

We love a good cup of coffee — but not at the expense of our sleep! We’re not saying you need to break up with your liquid love, but consider setting some boundaries. While a cup of caffeine may energize you in the moment, reaching for that afternoon pick-me-up may make you more tired in the long run. Research shows caffeine’s lingering effects can have a major impact on our sleep cycle. One of our sleep tips? Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before bed! Studies suggest anything less than this can dramatically disturb your sleep cycle.  

Alcohol Before Bed

Speaking of drinks to avoid before bed… you may want to consider adding alcohol to the list. If you’re thinking, “how can that be? Alcohol makes me sleepy,” why yes — alcohol can induce sleep, but it will likely disrupt it as well. The issue isn’t falling asleep, it’s staying asleep. After the alcohol has metabolized and left the body, the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol are essentially reversed. Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night after an evening cocktail? Research describes this as the “REM rebound.” Drinking alcohol before bed can inhibit our REM sleep cycle during the first half of the night, causing a rebound during the second half of the night. These sleep tips may have you rethinking your evening nightcap! 

Irregular Sleep Schedule   

Some nights you’re up until the crack of dawn binge-watching Netflix, other nights, lights are out by 8 pm. Sound like you? This irregular sleep schedule can be more detrimental than you may think. Research shows fluctuating sleep levels and irregular sleeping patterns increase the risk for issues such as obesity and heart disease by as much as 27%. In fact, the odds of developing metabolic syndrome increased by 23% for every hour of sleep fluctuation! With a few sleep tips, developing a healthy sleep schedule is easy. Keep reading for ways to optimize your sleep routine!   

7 Hacks For A Better Night’s Sleep

Meditation 

Meditating before bed is one of the best sleep tips to calm racing thoughts and promote mind-body relaxation. Studies show meditation can increase the production of melatonin while reducing cortisol levels, promoting more restful sleep, and reducing stress. When your thoughts are taking over, try a free FitOn Before Meditation to quiet your mind.

Don’t Go To Bed Hungry 

Late-night eaters — these sleep tips are for you! Eating small amounts of protein before bed may actually promote a restful night’s sleep. Research suggests the neurotransmitter glycine, found in protein-rich foods, can help to regulate the central nervous system and enhance sleep. Try a small spoonful of nut butter before bed to support neurotransmitter synthesis!

Want some more sleep tips? Here are the best foods to eat before bed.

Regulate Your Circadian Rhythm

Your circadian rhythm often referred to as your sleep-wake cycle, is your body’s biological clock. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you help keep your body’s internal clock ticking in the right direction. When it’s dark out, your brain receives signals from the SCN (the part of your brain that controls your circadian rhythm) to produce the hormone melatonin, causing you to feel sleepy. When the sun rises, the SCN signals your body to wake up. Having a set sleep schedule helps keep this system on track, maintaining hormone homeostasis! 

Stay Away From Blue Light 

While we’re on the topic — blue light is a big no-no at night! Blue light, emitted from artificial light and the screens of electronics, disrupts the natural circadian rhythm, tricking your body into thinking it’s daytime. Exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin production, leading to increased feelings of alertness and cognitive stimulation. Not exactly how we want to feel before bedtime! 

Research suggests avoiding blue light and limiting screen use at least 2-3 hours before bed. If you need to use electronics in the evening, try blue-blocking glasses! 

Avoid Your Afternoon Pick-me-up 

When the afternoon slump hits, there are other ways to stay energized! Steer clear of stimulants in the late afternoon to avoid disrupting your sleep, one of our most important sleep tips. When you start zoning out, try some of these caffeine-free energizers! 

Move Your Body: It may seem counterintuitive, but exercise can be a great way to re-energize when you’re feeling tired! 

Mental Check-in: Mental exhaustion often leads to feelings of stress and fatigue. Check in with your body. Try a quick breathing exercise or meditation to shift your mindset. 

Hydrate: Did you know fatigue can be a sign of dehydration? Read FitOn’s Ultimate Guide to Hydration to help stay on top of your daily hydration goals. 

Build an Evening Sleep Routine 

If you’re going to prioritize any sleep tips, start by building an evening sleep routine. Developing a consistent routine can help your body naturally unwind and prepare for bed. You may even find yourself looking forward to it every night! This can be a great opportunity for some much-needed self-care. Put your phone down and power down your brain. Incorporating some of these sleep tips is a great place to start:

  • Journal or meditate to clear your head
  • Read or listen to an audiobook 
  • Take an Epsom salt bath 
  • Sip on a warming cup of tea or an anti-inflammatory latte 
  • Diffuse a calming essential oil like lavender or eucalyptus 

RELATED: FitOn’s Ultimate Guide to Self-Care

Make Your Room A Spa

Did you know that your environment can affect your sleep? Light, temperature, and noise are all elements that contribute to your quality of shut-eye. With a few simple sleep tips, turn your bedroom into a soothing sleep sanctuary! 

Blackout curtains: Blackout curtains prevent external lights (think: street lights or headlights from passing cars) from disrupting your circadian rhythm. 

Keep it cool: The National Sleep Foundation found one of the most important factors in a restful night’s sleep is keeping the bedroom cool. Ideally, the thermostat should be set to a temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Noise-free zone: The term spa voice was developed for a reason! Keep the noise to a minimum. A sound machine or fan can help drown out external noise. 

Clear the clutter: Your room doesn’t need to be immaculate, but an organized space reduces stress and promotes feelings of relaxation.

More Sleep Tips For Your Best Night’s Sleep Every Night

20 Life-changing Sleep Tips 

When your body is ready to hit the sheets, but your mind won’t turn off, try these 20 life-changing sleep tips.

Getting Your Circadian Rhythm Back on Track 

Let your intuition take over by regulating your circadian rhythm. All you need to do is develop a regular sleep schedule, your body will do the rest! 

Evening Ritual Do’s and Don’ts For Better Sleep 

Our body craves routine. Try these sleep tips and start practicing good sleep hygiene! Here are the do’s and don’ts of a healthy evening ritual.  

The Bottom Line  

As you can see, when you snooze — you certainly don’t lose. Sleep is an essential part of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being! With plenty of sleep tips, you have all the tools to keep your battery fully charged.