Sleep is essential for our health and well-being, but many of us struggle to get enough of it. Whether it’s due to stress, anxiety, or poor habits, lack of sleep can affect our mood, productivity, immunity, and even our longevity. That’s why Vogue India has shared some of the best ways to improve your sleep quality and quantity, based on the latest science and expert advice. Here are seven tips to help you sleep better tonight and every night.
1. Avoid overthinking your sleep
One of the biggest enemies of sleep is worrying about it. If you obsess over how much sleep you need, how long it takes you to fall asleep, or how often you wake up, you may end up feeling more stressed and less sleepy. Instead of checking your phone, clock, or sleep tracker, try to relax and let go of any negative thoughts. Practising mindfulness, journaling, or removing any devices from your bedroom can help you calm your mind and prepare for sleep.
2. Upgrade your sound machine
If you find it hard to fall asleep in a quiet environment, you may benefit from some soothing sounds. ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is a phenomenon that describes the tingling sensation some people experience when they hear certain repetitive noises, such as whispering, tapping, or brushing. ASMR can also help you relax and fall asleep faster, as it triggers the release of chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine in your brain. You can find many ASMR videos and audio clips online, or you can create your own by humming, breathing, or making other gentle sounds.
3. Encourage top to toe calm
Stress is one of the main causes of insomnia, as it keeps your body and mind alert and prevents you from entering the restful state of sleep. To reduce stress and promote relaxation, you need to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” mode. One way to do this is by humming, which stimulates your vagus nerve and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Another way is by tensing and releasing your toes, which draws tension away from the rest of your body and distracts you from negative thoughts.
4. Wind down with a workout
Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but also for your sleep quality. Working out regularly helps regulate your cortisol levels, which can affect your sleep cycle. It also produces endorphins, which boost your mood and melatonin production, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake rhythm. Exercise also helps you balance your body temperature, which is important for falling and staying asleep. Yoga is a great option for a pre-bedtime workout, as it combines stretching, twisting, and breathing exercises that relax your muscles and mind.
5. Eat well to sleep well
What you eat and when you eat can have a significant impact on your sleep. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, and steer clear of fatty and sugary foods, which can spike your blood sugar and disrupt your sleep patterns. Instead, opt for protein-rich foods like chicken and turkey, which contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your brain produce serotonin and melatonin. Pair them with complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, which make the tryptophan more available for your brain. A healthy gut is also crucial for a good night’s sleep, as it influences your sleep-gut connection. Eat more fibre-rich foods like leafy greens and legumes, which feed the good bacteria in your gut and keep it healthy. And don’t eat too close to bedtime, as this can interfere with your digestion and sleep quality.
6. Get some sunlight
Sunlight is essential for your sleep, as it helps reset your body clock and synchronise your hormones. Exposure to daylight, especially in the morning, signals your brain to produce cortisol, which makes you feel alert and energised. It also stimulates your production of serotonin, which regulates your mood and melatonin levels. Getting enough sunlight can help you fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up more refreshed. Try to get at least 15 minutes of natural light every day, preferably within the first hour of waking up.
7. Prioritise tub time
Taking a bath before bed can help you get ready for sleep in more ways than one. Bathing raises your core body temperature and then lowers it when you get out, which mimics the natural drop in temperature that occurs before sleep. This helps your body and brain recognise that it’s time to wind down and sleep. Bathing also enhances your circadian rhythm, which is your internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Adding some lavender essential oil or magnesium salts to your bath can make it even more relaxing and sleep-inducing, as they have calming and soothing properties.