How to Sleep Better (and Therefore Improve Every Aspect of Your Life)

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Try these five tips to get more ZZZs and behold the bright-eyed results.

This article was originally published in March 2019. 

It might have been ages since you’ve woken up feeling like you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, and you’re certainly not alone. As many of our lives get busier with work commitments, social engagements (mostly virtual, of course) and Netflix marathons, it’s little wonder our relationship with shut-eye is on the outs. The consequence of a sleepless night is often an irritable day, as we plot our existence from one coffee jolt to the next. What started as an hour or two of sleep shortage can impact every aspect of our lives, from our mind to our skin and even our heart. Try these five tips to get more ZZZs and behold the bright-eyed results.

Try a supplement

You might have heard of melatonin; however, few people know how it really works. Melatonin is a hormone our bodies naturally secrete to help us sleep. When the sun goes down, our melatonin levels should rise. Because light, or lack thereof, controls our melatonin levels, shift workers and people who travel frequently through time zones can be particularly susceptible to sleep problems. But even for 9-to-5ers and stay-cationers, simple things like light coming through your window or the glare from your phone screen can confuse your body’s processes. “A melatonin supplement can be helpful in improving sleep quality and reducing the time required to fall asleep,” says Sherry Torkos, pharmacist and author of The Canadian Encyclopedia or Natural Medicine. “It helps you stay asleep longer and there are less early-morning awakenings with melatonin.” Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any kind of pills.

Get a chic sleep mask

You might think they’re relegated to red-eye flights and swish hotels, but blocking out light via a sleep mask can really help — a luxe one like this can make it all the more enticing. It’s especially good for daytime naps (or uh, for those nights you go to sleep when the sun’s coming up.)

Banish tech from the room — really

We know, the FOMO that comes with not checking Instagram before bed is almost too much to bear, but consider that checking work emails and even texting can keep you from relaxing. “Even reading the news is upsetting,” says Torkos. “I start thinking about everything going on in the world and then I can’t sleep.” And because you rely on your iPhone as your alarm clock, it’s time to go old school and get a real one.

Create a bedtime routine

Sometimes just washing off your makeup can feel like enough of a chore, let alone beginning a whole routine of sleep-inducing activities. But try to wind down at the end of a long day with a series of relaxing activities, says Torkos, who likes to practice yoga before hitting the sack. While we’re conditioned to watch shows that can elicit some extreme, heart-pounding responses, you could use this time to really delve into a pampering routine: Try dry-brushing your skin, stimulating your scalp with a boar-bristle brush and massaging in face oils.

Don’t whine — or wine (too much)

That relaxing feeling you get with a good glass of Bordeaux is temporary. It might help you fall asleep initially and mentally transition from boardroom to bedroom, but that’s kind of where the fun stops, says Torkos. “Alcohol can cause nighttime awakening and it can reduce your overall sleep quality. A glass of wine with dinner is OK, but don’t use alcohol as a way to get to sleep.” Instead, try a cup of herbal tea, like skullcap, which is said to reduce anxiety.

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