There really is an art and a science to getting a good night’s sleep. And there is nothing better than waking up in the morning feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to take on the day. Below I go through my top sleep tips for a more restful night.
What you do during the day sets up your night for success! These lifestyle tips are free ways you can encourage your body and circadian rhythms to balance so that you can get deep restorative sleep.
And yes…getting into bed earlier is always my top tip; even if you are a night person, you’ll thank me later!
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1. Try the yoga pose “legs up against the wall”
This is so relaxing and truly works! It’s also very grounding to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, as it quickly calms the body and mind. Do it throughout the day or before you hop into bed.
Legs up against the wall boosts circulation and moves fluids stored in your legs back towards the heart. Gravity gets to work on your legs in a way it simply can’t for most of the day.
Holding this pose for a few moments will calm your central nervous system, encouraging your body into a deeper relaxation state at bedtime.
If you have little children, it’s fun to pause and have a relaxing moment together—a win for all!
2. Get into bed earlier for better sleep
If you could only do one thing to improve your sleep—get into bed earlier!
Optimal sleep happens between 10 pm and 6 am.
Aim to be in bed, winding down no later than 9:30 so that you are asleep by 10 pm. This will give you the deepest, restorative sleep. Sleep quality matters more than sleep quantity. Giving your body the space and opportunity to go into that deep sleep state is so important.
About 10:30-11 pm, your body gets a second wave of energy or a cortisol surge. This is often why when you stay up late, you think, “wow, I have so much energy and can accomplish so much late at night,”… but you pay for it the next day and long term. And the same is true with littles, although their cortisol surge happens closer to 8 pm!
If you are used to being a night owl, don’t stress; let’s take it one step at a time and slowly move your bedtime earlier. Start today by getting into bed 15 minutes earlier. Then after 3-4 days, another 15 minutes earlier, and continue till you are close to the 9:30-10 pm hour! You’ll notice waking up refreshed and ready to go just by doing this!
3. Direct sunlight first thing in the morning
Our body’s internal clocks are set by the sun—with the invention of modern electricity, we don’t go to bed with the sun and wake up with the sun as we did generations prior.
As sunlight enters our eyes (which have millions of working parts and light receptors), it sends a “wake-up” signal to the brain to suppress melatonin production and increase cortisol and serotonin production. In optimal health, cortisol should start to rise and peak in the morning, and melatonin should rise at bedtime, signaling your body to rest and sleep.
Serotonin is not only our “feel good” or “happy” hormone but also a precursor to melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycles. When our energy and adrenal function is off, cortisol and melatonin get confused. If you find yourself tired in the morning and wired at night, this is why.
Even a few minutes of direct, outdoor sunlight helps—15 minutes is ideal, but any bit helps!
Aim to get outside first thing when you wake up to set your body’s internal clock, energy for the day, and better sleep for the night.
4. Create “wind-down” rituals you love
Sleep rituals cue your brain and body that sleep is coming, setting your night up for the best success!
The reality is we can’t always control everything that happens during the day, but we can influence how we start and end our day. Cultivating sleep rituals you love will encourage restorative sleep and impact on your energy, mood, and productivity the next day.
5. Have a consistent wake time each morning
The human body craves consistency. Circadian rhythms are guided by your wake time, so a consistent wake time won’t just set your day up for energy but also your night up for deep, restorative sleep. Even if you have had a bad night of sleep, keeping your morning wake hour as consistent as possible will regulate your cortisol, giving you energy for the day and melatonin later on at night.
Nighttime sleep isn’t just about what we do in the evening hour—restorative sleep starts with your morning and daily routines.
If you have had a bad night of sleep, take a power nap to help make up for lost sleep.
6. Reflect on your day before going to sleep
Have you ever gotten into bed and instantly thought of 10 things you need to do tomorrow? You start to spiral, your cortisol spikes, and instead of falling asleep, you are wired, anxious, and overwhelmed. Yes, I’ve been there many times.
Taking a few moments to reflect on the current day and plan for the next day will settle your mind and help prepare you for deep sleep.
If your brain is overwhelmed or stressed, it can be very difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Rather than getting into bed in an overwhelmed mental state, thinking about everything you didn’t get done or need to do tomorrow—take a few minutes before bed to put your mind, heart, and body at ease so that you can rest easy.
Take out your planner and look at your week—what can you celebrate today, and what is your top priority for tomorrow? Putting pen to paper can help release some of the stress.
Practice gratitude and reflect on one thing you are thankful for. Gratitude shifts our emotions and minds into a positive, calm state…even if our day didn’t go as planned.