Improving Sleep Quality

Improving Sleep Quality

We’re night owls by habit. Even when I say I’m going to get to bed early, suddenly 10pm rolls around and I want to do all-the-things. I’m tying up loose ends for work, blitz-cleaning the house, folding laundry, or just enjoying the glorious silence. It’s an extra productivity time block, and I find myself wanting to take advantage of those extra few hours.

My magic amount of sleep time is 8 hours -I feel AMAZING after 8 hours of sleep- but even when the quantity isn’t there, I’ve taken some steps to improve the quality. I think the key is promoting the ability to wind down even while I get some nighttime chores or work done. This way, it takes less time to actually fall asleep. I crawl into the covers, and crash.

Here are some ideas to make the most of sleep time we do have:

Wind down before bed, whether it’s through reading, meditation, or a gentle stretch. I’ve realized that with the kiddos, it helps them to have a solid bedtime routine. They know what to expect: bath time, reading, bed. It’s just as beneficial for adults! If you get into the same habits each night, your body will begin to recognize that sleep is on the way. My bedtime routine almost always consists of some reading and meditation, or stretching. I’ll often drink a decaf tea before going to sleep.

Keep the bedroom cool. This is a HUGE one. The ideal sleeping temperature is around 68 degrees, and it’s also a great temperature for kids and babies at night.

Minimize distractions. Our room can easily become a catchall for laundry, knick knacks I need to put away, and paperwork. I’ve found that trying to go to sleep surrounded by chore reminders was the opposite of peaceful. I’ve made a conscious effort to keep extra chores out of our bedroom. We don’t have a TV in our room, and while it’s tempting to scroll on my phone before bed, I charge it on the far wall from our bed and avoid touching it in the 30 minutes to an hour before sleep.

Exercise. The days that I don’t work out, I have a much harder time falling asleep. Getting in a challenging, sweaty workout almost always ensures a good night’s rest. On the days where I don’t teach or complete my own workout, I make a goal to at least go on a walk with the dogs after dinner to get out some energy. Not-so-coincidentally, a good night’s sleep gives me the energy I need to crush my workouts.

Wear real pajamas. I learned this trick during a podcast interview with Ariana Huffington. If we wear clothes to sleep that we’d wear to the gym, the body gets confused, and thinks we may actually be heading to run on the treadmill instead of going to sleep. Create a selection of clothes purely designated for bedtime.

If you wake up, DON’T check the time. This is a huge one for me! When I have to wake up during the night, I used to check the time. I’d think about the amount of sleep I was losing, which in turn would keep me up longer. Also, my to-do list would start looming, and the anxiety would prevent me from crashing out again. Now when I have to wake up during the night, I do what I need to do, and avoid checking the clock. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together” –Thomas Dekker


About Kate Smith