For best results, don’t sleep in a chair

Today we’re giving a shout out to a less glamourous, yet sorely underrated, sister in the acne fighting arsenal: getting good quality sleep.

It is a cornerstone of good health and it is highly important for a beautiful clear complexion due its positive effects on your hormones. They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing!

But despite all the wonderful things sleep does for your health, not all of you out there in Love Vitamin land are able to rest easy at night. If you find yourself not being able to fall asleep, tossing and turning, or waking up unrefreshed, here are 10 top tips on how to get a better night’s sleep:

1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. You need rest to get the most out of your exercise, and you need exercise to get the most out of your sleep. Your body uses sleep to rest and recover, but if you are too sedentry, it might not have enough to recover from and this could affect your sleep cycle. Getting enough physical exercise may be one of the most important things to getting a better sleep.

So try to work out regularly, or at least walk more, take the stairs, etc. Get your heart rate up because this is what will help you to feel worn out come bed time.

That being said, exercise wears you out, but it also elevates your heart rate and makes you feel awake after you do it, so make sure you stop exercising MAX two hours before bed, preferably more. 

2. Try Writing Down All Your Worries and To-Do’s

Many times people can’t fall asleep because their minds are racing with all their worries and things they have to do the next day. If this is you, try sitting down before bed and just writing down everything that comes to mind. Make a list of your things you need to do, then write out anything you are worried about. In fact, just write about anything and everything that pops up. Don’t censor yourself. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m too excited about something, so it’s not just your worries that need to get out of your head.

You will find that by taking your thoughts and putting them on paper, it’s as if you are “storing” them outside of your brain. They are off your shoulders, and now your brain is primed to catch some Zz’s.

3. Keep Your Room As Dark As Possible

Darkness is what signals your body to start producing the sleep hormones, particularly melatonin. Light not only inhibits the production of these, but also stimulates the body to feel awake and alert.

If possible, start dimming the lights in your house as you are coming up to bedtime to start getting your body ready, and keep your room as dark as possible while you sleep. Make sure you have dark blinds or curtains over your windows to block out light from street or the moon, and cover up any LED lights from clocks, or computers. If this is not possible, you can try wearing a sleep mask instead.

If you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, don’t turn on the light if you can help it! Feel your way there and keep yourself as sleepy as possible while you do your business. Turning on a light wakes you up too much and makes it about a thousand times more likely that you won’t be able to get back to sleep afterwards.

4. Shut Off the TV and Computer & Read a Book Before Bed

 

The light from self luminous TV and computer screens is so bright that it suppresses melatonin production and may leave you staring at the ceiling for hours after you go to bed. This is especially true of computer screens since your face is generally a lot closer to it than a TV, which means more light gets to the back of your eyes.

Plus, TV and the computer can be very visually and mentally stimulating. You don’t want your brain too stimulated before bed, or it will be left whirring about what you were just watching or doing for long after you’ve gone to bed.

So try shutting the computer off at least a half hour if not more before bed and read a (preferably boring) book instead. Or putter around, tidy your house, pick out an outfit, make your lunch for tomorrow, etc.

If you simply can’t tear yourself away from the computer, then try to dim the screen as much as possible. I use an app on my Mac called F.lux, which automatically dims the screen after sunset and gets rid of that eerie blue glow. That might not be enough though if you are a chronic insomniac.

5. Listen to White Noise and Ambient Sounds

If you find that you have a difficult time sleeping because of noises in your house, you could play white noise to drown it out. White noise is like a repetitive fuzzy sounding noise (like the static sound between TV and radio stations, the whirring of a fan, or the sound of a hair dryer or vacuum). The reason it works is because the frequencies in white noise are so all over the place that your brain gets overloaded and can’t pick out specific noises. The background sounds from your house become indistinguishable so that your brain doesn’t feel obligated to make sense of them, and therefore can rest.

In other words, it will drown out your roommates talking in the living room, your dad thumping up the stairs, or your dog snoring.

To get yourself some white noise, there’s lots of white noise apps for your phone or computer, free white noise websites, or tracks on youtube. Just get on the ol’ google machine and you’ll find plenty. They often come with soothing nature sounds on top of the white noise so it’s not just a bunch of annoying fuzz. Alternatively you can use a fan, an actual white noise machine, or the static on the radio.

6. Listen to a Sleep Meditation

If you are someone who can’t fall asleep due to a racing mind, listening to a guided sleep meditation can help. A guided sleep meditation is where someone on a recorded audio track talks you through settling your whole body and falling into a deep deep relaxation. They are often accompanied by soothing whooshing and nature sounds. Here is an example from youtube.

Listening to this type of track gives you something to focus all your attention on in the present moment so that you don’t drift off away into your worries. Make sure it’s long enough so that you fall asleep before it’s finished.

7. Turn the Heat Down

Your body temperature actually drops at night while you sleep, so if your room is too hot, you may have trouble sleeping!  Turn the temperature down and snuggle under your covers. Alternatively, turn on an oscillating fan and it doubles as white noise too!

Also you may want to avoid doing things like having a hot bath within two hours before bed, as it may raise your body temperature and keep you awake. Having one earlier though can help you relax and get ready for sleep.

8. Use a Sleep Tracker App On Your Phone

So apparently, a big reason that you might feel sleepy and groggy after waking up even if you slept more than enough hours is if your alarm wakes you up in the middle of a deep sleep cycle. You go through many cycles of deep and light sleep throughout the night. Apparently in order to feel the most refreshed it is best to wake up during a light sleep phase.

So how can you possibly set your alarm to wake you up during a light sleep cycle?

Well, they have an app for that. You can put your cell phone under your pillow and the motion censors can track when you are most active during the night. I guess you are more active during certain sleep phases, and over time it can learn your sleep patterns very intimately. You can then set an alarm, and it will wake you up with a song when you are in your lightest sleep phase within a half hour before the set time! Technology, hey.

Here‘s one for Android, and here‘s one for the Iphone.

9. Eat a Healthy Diet 

Hopefully you’re already chipping a way at this one so you can have glorious skin and a healthy body. Well, just a reminder that your whole body works together: many MANY people say that they begin to sleep better after ditching the processed foods (and caffeine).

Also, be aware of how much or how little you are eating before bed. Eating a big meal right before bed can interfere with sleep due to all the energy needed to digest the food. Alternatively, being too hungry can be so distracting that you can’t sleep.

And one last thing: don’t drink too much liquid before bed! Or you’ll be up peeing and risk not getting back to sleep after.

10. Keep as Regular a Sleep Schedule as Possible

Your sleep is regulated by your internal body clock – aka the circadian rhythm – aka the thing that gives you jet lag when you fly overseas. The circadian rhythm regulates all the body’s functions that cycle in a 24 hour period. These rhythms are reset daily to match a 24 hour day by factors such as exposure to daylight and social cues like when we eat our meals.

So that being said, it is best to keep a regular schedule of meals and bedtime – as much as possible, of course.  It’s also good to make yourself up a little bed time ritual that you do every night before bed, which cues your body to release the sleep hormones.

It’s also important that you get up out of bed as soon as possible in the morning after you wake up, open the door and expose yourself to bright sunlight (it works best if you actually go outside or stick your head out a window and flood the back of your eyes with light). This will help you reset your circadians and get you snoozing come bed time.

Watch Me Talk About All This in Video

Do you have trouble sleeping? If so, do you have anything that has helped you catch more quality snooze?

Photo Credits: Spencer Finnley, Tonymadrid Photography, Frederic Guillory, VinothChandar via Compfight cc