sleep

Have you been a crabby grump bucket lately? It’s probably because you haven’t been getting enough sleep. Sleep—or rather lack of it—affects so much of our waking lives. It messes with the quality of our work, our relationships and our happiness. Don’t let a lack of Zs make you grouchy and sluggish. Try these 10 natural (no sleeping pills here) tips to help you drift off.

1. Keep a regular sleep schedule

Help yourself fall asleep easier by maintaining a regular sleep schedule. Try to wake up and go to sleep within 20 minutes of the same time each day. (Yes, even on the weekends.) Consistency will help regulate your sleep cycles and help you fall asleep faster.

2. Don’t force it

If you just can’t fall asleep, don’t lay in bed wide-awake. The anxiety of not being able to fall asleep may just make it worse. Get up and do something soothing until you feel tired. Read, do some easy stretches, or listen to music.

3. Get comfortable

Create a room that makes it easy to drift off. For most people this means a space that’s cool, dark and quiet. Some white noise, like a fan, can help—but don’t over do it. Loud noises can disrupt your sleep.

4. Go organic

You may love to curl up in that comforter, but if it was made using non-organic fibers, it has likely been sprayed with flame-retardants and other chemicals. Meaning, you breathe in off-gassed chemicals, like formaldehyde, petrochemicals and pesticides, while you sleep. Instead, choose pillows, blankets, sheets and comforters made with organic cotton, wool or hemp for a healthier snooze.

5. Use the bedroom only for sleep

Designate your bedroom just for sleep. Avoid eating, working or watching TV in the bedroom. TVs have become a typical fixture in many bedrooms, but watching TV in bed can actually disrupt your sleep. Some studies suggest that the light from TVs, computer monitors and smartphones can affect melatonin production, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. As well, get that desk or laptop out of the bedroom. It’s hard to leave work behind—and catch a few winks—when your work is right there next to the bed.

6. Create a bedtime ritual

Let your body know that it’s time to wind down with a consistent bedtime ritual. Take a warm bath, read, or listen to soft music. Dim the lights or spend the evening by candlelight. These activities will help you get relaxed before climbing into bed—and signal to your brain that it’s time to snooze.

7. Nix the alcohol

It’s a no-brainer to avoid caffeine before bed, but did you know that alcohol can mess with your slumber too? That glass of wine may conk you out at first, but it will disrupt your sleep throughout the night. Choose a more calming beverage, like a glass of soy milk or organic cow’s milk before bed.

8. Stay stress-free

When your mind’s churning with all of the worries of the day, it’s no wonder you can’t fall asleep. Managing stress can help put your mind at ease and allow you to rest. Easier said than done, right? Try jotting down your worries or the tasks you need to complete the next day before bed. Set the list aside and then mentally allow yourself to take a break. Tell yourself it’s time to sleep.

9. Exercise

Getting your workout on can promote better sleep—so long as you don’t exercise too late in the day. Exercising even three hours before bed raises your body temperature and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Work off your energy in the morning or early afternoon.

10. Embrace the sun

Use the earth’s natural cycle to guide your sleep patterns. Try to wake up with the sun. Sunlight helps reset your body’s internal clock. Avoid using room-darkening shades, which can leave you groggy.

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image: planetchopstick