Most of us know by now that getting enough sleep is crucial to your health and happiness—and yet somehow, it’s still hard to prioritize. Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of numerous health problems, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Luckily, we’ve compiled some sleeping tips to help you improve your ZZZs in 2023. Here are a few techniques to try out that will help you get more rest each night without sacrificing anything else in your life.
Pay Attention to Sleep Cycles
When you think about refreshing your sleep routine, most people focus on getting enough hours in bed. While the amount of time you spend sleeping is indeed important, the quality of your sleep also matters. To get the most restorative sleep possible, your body needs to progress through the typical sleep cycle multiple times.
Your body’s sleep cycle consists of four separate stages. Each sleep stage is responsible for helping various parts of your mind and body wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. During the first sleep cycle, your body and brain activities start to slow down. However, you still haven’t fully relaxed, and it’s easy to wake someone in this stage.
Next, if your sleep isn’t disturbed, your body will move to stage two. This is when your body temperature drops, breathing and heart rate slows, and muscles relax. Collectively, most people spend about half of their sleep in this second cycle. Stage two sleep can last up to 25 minutes during the first sleep cycle, after which the body moves on to stage three.
Stage three is considered deep sleep, and it can be difficult to wake someone up while they are in this stage. Experts believe that this stage is crucial when it comes to getting restorative sleep, as it aids your body in growth and recovery.
Finally, you reach REM sleep. During the REM sleep stage, your muscles become temporarily paralyzed (except for your eyes and the muscles that control breathing). REM sleep “is essential to cognitive functions like memory, learning, and creativity.” It is also when your most vivid dreams occur. Usually, your body will enter a REM sleep stage when you’ve been asleep for approximately 90 minutes.
But why do these sleep stages matter? It’s important to make sure that your body cycles through all the sleep stages multiple times each night if you want to get the most rejuvenating rest achievable. Not getting enough REM sleep has been linked to notable consequences regarding thinking, emotions, and physical health.
Age, recent sleep patterns, alcohol, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea can interrupt a healthy sleep cycle, which might mean waking up and still feeling exhausted each morning. Improving your sleep hygiene—which includes avoiding alcohol, exposing your body to natural daylight, and getting rid of any disruptions in your bedroom—will help you achieve uninterrupted sleep and align your circadian rhythm so it functions optimally.
Four Stages of Sleep
- Stage One: Dozing off, prone to waking easily; lasts 1-5 minutes
- Stage Two: Temperature drops, muscles relax, breathing and heart rate slow; lasts 10-25 minutes
- Stage Three: Deep sleep; muscle tone, pulse, breathing rate decrease; this stage is critical to restorative sleep
- Stage Four: REM sleep; brain activity picks up, temporary muscle paralysis, eyes moving rapidly; important for cognitive functions like learning, memory, and creativity
Study Up on Circadian Rhythms
The body has its own internal clock that makes sure you wake up at the right time (and fall asleep at the right time) based on your external environment. Unfortunately, not everyone’s internal clocks are perfectly in sync with their external ones, which may be why some of us have trouble getting into a regular routine or staying asleep when we try to go to bed. If that sounds like you, don’t give up!
One of the best ways to fix your circadian rhythms is by exposing yourself to bright light when you first wake up in the morning. Letting in lots of sunlight or even going on a morning walk can signal to your body that it’s time to wake up. Another way to set your circadian rhythm straight is to follow a bedtime routine every single night. Check out this blog post for ideas on making the ultimate bedtime routine, or read on for some more ideas!
Set a Sleep Routine — and stick to it!
One of the most important things you can do to prioritize sleep is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. This means going to bed at the same time each night, and waking up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. Your sleep routine is also a good time for self-care activities such as stretching or meditating. It’s important to partake in activities that help prepare your body for restful slumber and lower your stress levels.
Stress can make sleeping difficult and can disrupt your circadian rhythm. It’s not just the stress of everyday life, either; even if you’re not having to deal with an emergency, work-related stress or emotional issues can cause you to lose sleep. And the effects don’t stop there: if chronic insomnia is left untreated, it can lead to other health issues, like depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease.
To reduce your stress levels, consider practicing meditation. Meditation can help you train your mind to focus on what’s happening in the present moment, rather than worrying about past events or future concerns. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted, and set aside at least 20 minutes each day for meditation practices. But remember, it takes time, so don’t expect immediate results!
Do you find yourself getting to bed late, only to wake up tired in the morning? By sleeping enough hours each night, you’re giving your body ample time to repair itself and recharge for the next day. Make sure to specifically set aside at least 8 hours a night for nothing other than sleep.
Explore All Sounds of the Spectrum:
Pink or Brown Noise
You may already be familiar with white noise, and you may have even heard of pink noise. Interestingly, there’s an entire spectrum of sound that humans can hear, and certain sounds can supply certain benefits.
White noise is scientifically proven to help you sleep better. Seriously—check out this awesome study by Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The study concluded that white noise—or, more specifically, the Yogasleep Dohm—significantly improves sleep based on both subjective and objective measurements. Including white noise in your sleep routine is simple! Try out our time-tested Dohm for the natural, ambient sounds of rushing air. Or choose from our multi-sound machines and let yourself drift off to the sound of falling rain or the rushing of ocean waves.
Pink noise is a softer, milder version of white noise. It emphasizes lower frequencies, and many folks find it more pleasant to listen to than white noise. To read more about pink noise and the other colors of sound, check out this blog post.
No matter what color of sound you choose, a sound machine is a natural sleep aid that helps block outside noises and distractions and helps to prevent interruptions in your sleep.
Create a Peaceful Sleep Environment
In order to get deep, restful, restorative sleep, it’s important to nix the blue light. Blue light is emitted by electronic devices like smart phones and tablets—and it’s so disruptive that it can cause insomnia, eye strain, headaches, and even depression.
The best way to avoid blue light is to put away the screens altogether. You can even consider “banning” devices with screens from the bedroom and look for something like a digital alarm clock to help you wake up on time in the morning. If you really can’t let go of scrolling social media before bed, consider installing a blue light blocking app on your computer or phone that automatically adjusts the color of your screen based on the time of day.
Another key element to creating the ideal sleep environment involves upgrading your mattress.
To set yourself up for sleep success, it’s important to make yourself comfortable. If you have an older mattress that is either too firm or too soft, you should consider upgrading to a more supportive model. The Yogabed Cool Gel Memory Foam Mattress is a great option because it provides extra support and is made from cooling copper material. A comfortable pillow is also important and should provide the proper level of support for your head, neck, and sleeping position.
Before hitting the hay, make sure your bedroom is relatively quiet, and as dark as possible. You can also try using a sleep mask or blackout curtains to keep the room cool and dark enough for sleeping.
Additionally, your bedroom should be reserved for sleeping only. Do not use your bedroom as an office or craft space; hobbies and other distractions should be moved into another part of the house, so they don’t tempt you when it’s time for bedtime (or distract you from getting quality rest.)
If you implement even just a few of these key sleep strategies, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a better night’s ZZZs. You may even find that your whole life feels more balanced and energized when you prioritize getting enough rest.
Remember, it’s not just about getting 8 hours of sleep and feeling refreshed when you wake up. It’s about living in a way that supports your health in the long run. Put sleep first, and you’ll find that you get plenty of deep, restorative sleep every night!
Interested in more sleep tips? Check out our Instagram!