Between the election, the global pandemic, and the Daylight Savings time change, there are many reasons why we may need to improve sleep right now.
I have not always been the best sleeper. Over the years, my slight *obsession* with sleep has allowed me to compile a few tips and tricks to improve sleep and rebalance my natural circadian rhythm.
1. Eliminate all blue light at least two hours before bed time.
Our phones, computers, and televisions emit blue light that can mess with our body’s ability to prepare for sleep. The blue light inhibits the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Although we would ideally not use any of these devices before bedtime, that is not always possible or realistic! Here are some tricks to using your devices while still blocking out blue light:
- Blue light blocking glasses. I have been wearing blue light blocking glasses at night for almost two years now, and it really has made a big difference in my ability to fall asleep. I put them on every night when the sun sets, or at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. When wearing these glasses, the majority of the blue light exposure is eliminated. This allows your body’s natural melatonin production to make you sleepy at night as intended without blue light interference.
Find these also on my holiday gift guides!
- Turn off the lights! We barely use any indoor lights at all except for when we cook and eat dinner. Try to avoid sitting under bright lights inside your home at night. After dinner, try turning all of the lights in your house off. If light is needed, use a dimmer.
- Like many of you, I read at night before going to bed. Instead of keeping a light on in my bedroom, I use this blue light blocking book light (while wearing my blue light blocking glasses!) to read. I actually bring the same light into the bathroom to brush my teeth, or any other tasks around the house before bed.
- Use this iPhone hack to eliminate blue light from your phone at night:
Go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters > Turn On Color Filters > Pull the Intensity and Hue all the way to the right > Go Back to Accessibility > Scroll to Accessibility Shortcut > Choose Color Filters
Now if you click the right side button of your phone three times, it will turn on and off. Yes, the color of pictures is slightly off, but you can easily read text!
Turn on this setting at least two hours before bedtime!
2. Keep your room cool.
We might be tempted to crank up the heat as the temperatures continue to drop, but for better sleep, make sure you turn it back down before bedtime! The optimal room temperature for sleeping is 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Even a room temperature slightly too high can cause discomfort, restlessness, and the inability to fall asleep (or the risk of waking up in the night.) A few ways to help temperature regulation are:
- Use a fan. Although it doesn’t point directly at us, we use a fan circulate the air in our bedroom year round. I use this fan because it oscillates, has a remote, and enables you to turn off the blue light.
- Make sure your sheets aren’t trapping heat. I love these sheets from Coyuchi! Not only are they organic, but they have fantastic air flow, and always feel crisp and cooling.
3. Keep your room dark.
Ideally, you should not be able to see the hand in front of your face in your bedroom at night. Unless you are in a remote cabin in the woods, this is hard to achieve! Luckily, there are a few things that can help:
- Wear an eye mask. I wear an eye mask every night. I love this silk eye mask because it is gentle on your skin (no wrinkles!).
Find this mask also on my holiday gift guides!
- Get blackout curtains. I have used these blackout curtains in Ivory in the past. Using a light-colored curtain will help keep the room light and bright during the day, but keep the light out at night.
- When your room is dark, look around and see if any of your electronics are emitting blue light. I use these black out stickers to cover the small LED lights on electronics or appliances that can illuminate a room.
4. Block out noise disturbances.
Live on a busy road? Have a partner that snores? A barking dog? I am an extremely light sleeper, and these small disturbance will wake me up!
- To avoid this, I use this white noise machine in my bedroom to neutralize any sound disturbances. The good news is that you can still hear anything loud or important (fire alarm, baby crying, etc.), but it drowns out everything else.
- Ear plugs are another great option! (I use both!)
5. Optimize your circadian rhythm.
There is actually no such thing as a “night owl”. If you think you are a night owl (I used to!), your circadian rhythm is just thrown off. Surprisingly, the one hour time change due to Daylight Savings will throw off our internal clocks. For the most part, our circadian rhythm is affected by the light we are exposed to during the day and our daily routine.
- One of the easiest ways to reset your circadian rhythm is to allow your eyes to be exposed to every spectrum of natural sunlight throughout the day. Immediately when you wake up, open your blinds and expose your eyes to the sunrise. Better yet, get outside! Try to expose your eyes to as many phases of sunlight throughout the day as you can. Most importantly, the sunrise and the sunset. To keep it simple, I try get outside at least three times a day: immediately when I wake up, around lunch time, and again at sunset. After sunset, keep your indoor lights or blue light exposure to a minimum.
- While you’re outside, don’t wear sunglasses! Many people (including myself for most of my life) wear sunglasses during the day, stare into blue light all night, and wonder why they can’t sleep! I know it might feel like a big change to ditch the sunglasses, but try to break the habit! If you are wearing sunglasses, your eyes aren’t exposed to the natural sunlight, and therefore not helping to control your circadian rhythm.
- Try to maintain a daily routine. We know life doesn’t always work this way, but try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, regardless of weekends. Your sleep schedule will thank you!
6. Create a bedtime routine.
Yes, like children, adults should maintain some semblance of a bedtime routine. This will tell your mind and body that it is time to wind down and get ready for bed. This can include:
- Having a skincare & oral care routine
- Lighting a (non-toxic) candle
- Taking a bath (Try epsom salt! The magnesium will help lull you to sleep!)
- Put on calming music
- Drink tea
- Read a book
- Use the Calm App bedtime meditations and bedtime stories
7. Try Supplementation.
You don’t want to make it a daily habit, but when all else fails, try taking 3-5mg of a melatonin supplement. If you body isn’t used to creating melatonin on it’s own, it isn’t a bad idea to jumpstart the process.
Full spectrum CBD or Organic Olivia’s Sleep Juice are also great options.
8. Don’t eat too close to bedtime.
When your body is busy digesting, you will not fall into the deep sleep that you need to feel refreshed in the morning. Allow 2 hours of digestion before bedtime.
And that’s a wrap! I’m not even close to perfect, but whenever I focus on implementing these steps into my daily life, my sleep greatly improves. Getting better sleep also helps with anxiety, hormone balance, and much more!
The next thing I’m going to try out is the Hatch Restore (I told you I’m obsessed!). I’ll let you know how it goes. 😉
Have a good night’s sleep!