Believe it or not, the quality and feeling of being well rested after a full 7-8 hours of sleep can vary greatly. This can explain why even though you’ve dedicated a fixed amount of time to sleep for yourself, you feel more rested on certain nights and other nights, you feel less rested.
Where sleep is concerned quality is arguably more important than quantity. Although the time you close your eyes and when you open them is the time you give yourself to sleep, what you do prior can greatly affect just how well you get the much-needed restorative rest.
Here are some factors to consider and be mindful of to ensure you get a full night of quality rest.
Mind your caffeine intake
Ensure that your cup of coffee or any other caffeine-containing substances such as dark chocolate, soft drinks, energy drinks, etc. are at the very least spaced 6 hours away from your bedtime. Caffeine lingers in your system hours after you’ve consumed it, keeping your brain stimulated, your adrenaline flowing and heartrate higher than normal, making it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Even just trace amounts of lingering caffeine is enough to prevent your body from falling into deeper segment of your sleep cycle, which is responsible for the well-rested feeling. This can explain why you can feel tired even after getting in the normal amount of sleep. Caffeine intake significantly affect your sleep cycle and is linked to preventing you from falling into deep sleep.
Mind your alcohol intake
Although alcohol can help you feel relaxed and initially help you fall asleep, drinking alcohol, especially excessively, can interrupt your sleep cycle. In fact, studies show that alcohol doesn’t improve sleep quality, and instead negatively affects it. Alcohol intake lessens REM (rapid eye movement), the mentally restorative part of sleep, which can explain why you experience brain fog the next day after a night of drinking.
If you use alcohol as a sleep aid, know that you’re not doing yourself any favors, and are further hampering yourself from getting the rest you need.
Mind your stress
Stress spikes up hormones that naturally keep our body awake and alert. Cortisol and adrenaline are stress-induced hormones, and linger in our blood stream for hours, hampering our ability to sleep and go into deep sleep.
Whether you experience mental, physical, or emotional stress, in order to get a good nights rest, you’ll need to relieve yourself of this by giving your body the proper cues to decompress and relax, priming it for rest.
An evening bath, digital sunset, yin yoga, journaling, quality time with friends and family over dinner are just a few ways to unwind from the day and give your body the correct signals that it is safe to rest. The logic is to relax yourself, however way works for you.
If you’re dealing with mental or emotional stress such as depression, anxiety etc. and find that a simple evening routine to unwind isn’t enough, you may want to consider doing therapy. Stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep can put you in a negative cycle, where each exacerbates the other. Get the appropriate help and you’ll soon learn that like how these issues can exacerbate each other, when treated accordingly, they improve each other as well. Improve your stress management and your sleep quality will improve too.
Mind your meals
An indulgent dinner at the end of the day shared amongst loved ones is one of the best ways to conclude a busy schedule. Where sleep is concerned though, you’ll want to space dinner, especially a heavy one, at least 3 hours prior to your bedtime.
This gives your stomach the adequate time to digest your food. Going to sleep on a full stomach or shortly after a meal can keep you awake as your stomach is still actively trying to digest everything you ate. Opt for a light dinner and an early dinner to help prime your body for rest.
Mind your energy
You need to spend energy throughout the day to restore energy throughout the night. An active and engaged body and mind rest better and promote better quality sleep versus a sedentary body and unengaged mind.
A daily sense of fulfillment, adequate daily exercise, and an active mind give the needed balance for you to want and need rest. Keep in mind that your body goes through a natural cycle of spending energy and restoring energy.
Balance your energy and calm your mind with the help of Ashwagandha. This ancient adaptogenic root can be taken the evening to lower cortisol and help relieve mental and physical fatigue that can hamper sleep. Take with your dinner or afternoon snack to prime your body for a good nights rest.