How to Wind Down Before Going to Sleep

By on 06/22/2015

blue light sleepAll of the electronic conveniences of our modern life; wifi, smart phones, laptops, notebooks, TVs in every room with 1,000+ channels, etc… they have a dirty little secret: They are stealing our ability to rest, relax, unplug and sleep.

Be honest, what is your bedtime routine? If you are like the vast majority of Americans, you probably watch some TV, then check all of the various social media apps on your phone, maybe read some articles, check your work email one more time and eventually turn off your phone, roll over and try to sleep…

and there you lay. Wide awake, anxious, frustrated with your lack of sleep and worried about how you will feel in the morning.

Does this routine sound familiar? Here is how to wind down before going to sleep.

Doctors actually have a name for this now, its called Blue Light Sleep.

Essentially, any light exposure before sleep is bad as it will disrupt your sleep cycle, but the blue light that is emitted by all of our modern electronics turns out to be the worst offender, by far.

A study at Harvard University revealed that, “blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as [other] light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).”

This is actually a double punch to quality sleep because:

  1. The light emitted by your devices is actively interfering with your natural melatonin production and circadian rhythms
  2. The information you are piling into your head right before trying to sleep actually stimulates your mind and wakes it up. Thinking about work emails, messages from friends, something interesting you just read, etc… these all turn your mind on, when it should be winding down to sleep.

Why does quality sleep matter?

Well, for one, I’m sure when you don’t get enough quality sleep you FEEL it in the morning. Your body is a very fine tuned machine and just one bad night of sleep affects it to a point that is noticeable as soon as you get up to start your day.

And if you have multiple nights of poor sleep? Well…

  • You will be more prone to mistakes and accidents as drowsiness can slow down critical thinking and reaction times.
  • Your intelligence will also suffer as lack of sleep reduces cognitive abilities like concentration, reasoning and problem solving skills.
  • Your memory will also suffer.
  • Lack of sleep has been linked to major health problems as well: heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
  • You are more prone to depression when sleep deprived.
  • Weight gain is another major issue tied to poor sleep. When not properly rested and restored, your body will start to crave sweets, carbs and other terrible foods as they offer a quick (but unhealthy) source of energy to your exhausted body. Your cravings will become impossible to resist and will always be for poor food choices.

trimquil carb cravings stress

So, how can you get quality sleep every night?

You need to make 2 major changes: reduce your stress to calm your mind, and stop looking at electronic devices before you go to sleep.

Here are some specific tips:

  • Keep to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at a reasonable hour every night, consistently.
  • Create a pre-sleep routine that involves turning off all electronics and putting away any other stressors for at least 45 min before your head hits the pillow. Give your mind time to quiet down its anxious or worrysome thoughts. Work through what is bugging you and then move on. Don’t add new mental stimulation. Some good rituals include light reading of something enjoyable, a hot bath, yoga, or meditation. Overtime your body will recognize these routine wind down cues and both your mind and body will be ready and conditioned for sleep every night. pre sleep bath
  • Make your room a sleep sanctuary. That means turn off all lights, turn your alarm clock away from you so the light isn’t near your face, and block any other small lights that may be coming from electronic devises like a cable box or modem. The darker the better. Second, add a white noise machine. This constant soothing noise will help lull your mind to sleep.
  • If you don’t already do so, start exercising daily. Even a 15 minute power-walk will do. Exercising helps reduce stress as well as stress hormones like cortisol that trigger the body to stay awake and alert. Cortisol also contributes to weight gain and belly fat. (Here is a great link on why it’s important to de-stress in order to help shed belly fat.)  Daily exercise will help loosen your body and mind and allow you to fall asleep faster at night. As a general rule, it’s always best to exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime to allow your metabolism, heart rate and mental stimulation time to settle down.


About modernhealthproject

Hi there! This is my little blog project where I am trying to learn more about health, wellness and living a balanced life, while also sharing a bit of my silly side as well. By "silly" I mean sarcastic. And by "a bit" I mean way too much. Sorry about that.♥ - Anna

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