Whether we want to believe it or not, how we prepare for sleep has a profound effect on how we sleep. This includes both during the day and your nighttime routine. We have all been guilty at one time or another of working on the computer right up until bed. Or we have been caught doom scrolling 'til we fall asleep. These habits are hard to break, but getting adequate quality and quantity of sleep will improve many other areas of life. How to improve sleep quality: 1. Create a bedtime routine. Just as your warm-up acknowledges your body to prepare for exercise, a bedtime routine will allow your brain to recognize, "hey, it's time to wind down!". To name a few examples: wash your face, brush your teeth, set out your clothes for the morning, dim the lights, read a book, or do some light stretching. I recommend avoiding work emails, social media, and heck, even the news if at all possible. 2. Dim the lights 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Let your body's natural cycle (melatonin) recognize that it is bedtime. Melatonin is the hormone triggered and produced in darkness. Let it do it's thang! 3. Turn your thermostat to a comfortable temperature. Most are comfortable sleeping at 60-67 degrees. Of course, it varies person to person and house to house (I swear 66 degrees at my house is completely different than 66 degrees in our old apartment). Test out different temperatures and see how you feel. 4. Exercise! Wow, who would have thought your trainer would suggest that?! Exercise has been shown to increase time spent in deep sleep and help with sleep continuity. 5. Turn your phone on Do Not Disturb. I understand wanting to be available in case there is an emergency with a family member, but for Apple users, you can set which Contacts can still call/text you even with Do Not Disturb on. This makes it so your parents can still get ahold of you without having to worry about your friend responding to your text at 11pm and it keeping you up or waking you up. To be fair, I'm unsure, but assuming Google and Samsung have similar options. 6. Avoid having your pets sleep in your bed. I know, I know. This is literally THE worst suggestion ever. As much as we all love a good snuggle sesh with the doggos and cats, they can disturb your sleep with movement, puppy dreams, sudden bursts of energy, and of course, the morning licks. Pick one of these to consistently work on and see how it affects you over time. Quality sleep will improve your cognitive function, enhance recovery, regulate hunger hormones, improve your mood, and lower your risk of serious health problems.
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