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9 Steps to Better Sleep
When it comes to dramatically improving health, reducing stress, and impacting the quality of life, sleep is a superfood! And it may seem like a no-brainer, but everything improves when you’re well-rested. Yet, most of us aren’t getting enough ZZZs, including me!
Lack of sleep has a cumulative effect. It reduces immunity and slows down metabolism. It makes you more prone to stress and raises your cortisol levels. It makes you grumpy and irritable and likely to make less-than-great decisions, including choices with food.
If you know you should be getting more sleep; you probably are familiar with the basics of how to do it. But instead of strict rules and things not to do, like “no caffeine past 2 pm,” I like to suggest proactive behaviors or activities to decompress.
These are things that calm and center you, preparing you for the kind of deep, restorative sleep that will set you up for an easier and better tomorrow.
How to Prepare for a Restorative Sleep
1. Wind Down at the Same Time
Choose a specific time to signal to your body that it’s time for bed, then be consistent with creating a routine. Power off your devices, sip on a soothing latte, change into soft PJs, or soak in a warm bath (see below).
2. Journal to Release Your Thoughts
Whether it’s simply writing out your to-do list or expressing gratitude so that you go to bed feeling happier, there are so many ways to journal. The act of releasing your thoughts onto paper is cathartic, and this simple habit can impact your state of mind, allowing you to worry less and sleep more soundly.
3. Make Friends with Lavender
I’m such a believer in the magical calming powers of these little flowers! It’s no surprise to find me sneaking culinary lavender into meals and filling my diffuser with lavender essential oil. The smell alone can reduce stress and support better sleep. Think of lavender as your BFF when it’s time for a good night’s rest.
4. Leave Devices Out of the Bedroom
The light from your TV, phone, and computer triggers your brain to stay awake. Just like you put your kids to bed at a certain hour, put your electronics away for the night at least 30 minutes before bed.
5. Take Magnesium
Sometimes lavender and journaling just aren’t enough to quiet your racing mind or ease your body into a sound sleep. Magnesium (the “anti-stress mineral”) is known to help you relax and de-stress. (Check with your doctor before starting any new supplement.) You can also eat foods high in this nutrient. Think dark chocolate, avocado, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
6. Use a Weighted Blanket
I can tell you firsthand that I feel a lot less anxious when I sleep under my weighted blanket. Studies show that weighted blankets can bring a sense of calm, relieve anxiety, and promote sound slumber. (1)
7. Try Stretching or Gentle Movement
I like to move through a few yoga poses before bed or even just sit on the floor and stretch. It helps work out the kinks of the day and signals to the body, “Hey, now we’re slowing down.”
8. Cuddle Someone Who Loves You
Cuddling has been shown to boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol levels. Just as importantly, it’s fun and calming and the perfect way to end your day.
9. Soak Away Stress
A warm bath before bed may be the simplest (and most effective) way to relax. Light a candle, turn on some soothing music and take it to the next level with my luxurious DIY Sleepy Time Recipe to instantly unwind and chill.
1 to 2 cups Epsom salt (magnesium eases anxiety and soothes sore muscles)
1/2 cup baking soda (detoxifies)
Lavender essential oil (deepens relaxation)
Rose petals (Optional, but naturally calming and smells divine)
Add the ingredients while the water is running. Inhale the amazing aroma. Then sink in. Ahhhh!
So, try some (or all!) of these 9 ways to make sleep a priority. Trust me: Sometimes, I stay up way too late answering that one last email or catching up on the news. But when I’m conscious about getting enough shuteye and think about “future me,” I do what it takes to get a good night’s rest.
Join me in committing to a good night’s sleep. Then notice how everything improves when you’re well-rested. Sweet dreams!
Stay healthy! Here's another great article from Elise Museles-Bug Busters: An Immune Boosting Routine to Start Right Now.
Reprinted with permission from Elise Museles.com
Elise Museles is a Certified Eating Psychology and Nutrition Expert, creator of the Food Story platform, and the wildly popular blog Kale & Chocolate. As an author, speaker, health coach, and podcast host, Elise’s mission is to empower women to create a healthier relationship with food and their bodies by changing what’s on their plate – and what’s in their minds.
Elise recently launched her podcast, Once Upon A Food Story, where she shares the “Food Stories” of leading health experts such as Kimberly Snyder, Dr. Frank Lipman, Robyn Youkilis, and more. She’s also the best-selling author of Whole Food Energy: 200 All-Natural Recipes to Help You Prepare, Refuel, and Recover.