5 Tips to Get Better Sleep Starting Tonight

By: Dr. Jessica Hull

Sleep is an incredibly important function of our body – and that’s probably why we spend about a third of our life doing it! Sleep is important not only to keep us from being cranky all day but is also a crucial time for our body to power down all its higher-level functions and focus on recovery. The old saying is “the race is won in bed” – meaning that athletes need to prioritize rest and recovery just as much as their training. But it isn’t just athletes – all of us need adequate sleep to perform our best!

Getting poor sleep can cause delays in healing time and even negatively alter our perception of pain! However, sometimes it’s hard to unwind at the end of a busy day. Try these tips to start getting better sleep, starting tonight: 

Set up your sleep environment. Making your bedroom a cozy environment dedicated to sleep can help you start to feel sleepier as you crawl into bed, because your body knows what to expect. You can also try room-darkening shades or blinds, as well as eye masks to block out any exterior light. Add in a sound machine for soothing white noise. You should keep your room cool enough to be cozy under that mountain of blankets – experts recommend between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re struggling with sleep, check to see if your room is too warm and adjust that thermostat!  

Create routines. Our bodies function best when on a consistent sleeping routine – this is because of our natural circadian rhythms which influence our sleep-wake cycles. These circadian rhythms also rely on our exposure to natural light, so trying to get a little natural light in the evenings and exposing yourself to the sunset can help signal to the body that it’s time for rest. Try to avoid artificial “blue” light from electronic devices before bed; reading a (paper) book is a great way to let your brain know it’s bedtime. Staying consistent with these routines night after night will help your body power down more and more efficiently, as well as helping you wake up feeling more rested and ready for the day. 

Make lists. Keeping a notepad next to your bed can allow you to jot down those last-minute racing thoughts and to-do lists that dance through your brain in the evening hours. If it’s written down, you can let go of the feeling of needing to remember and rest assured that you will get to it the next day!  

Keep your workouts early. Working out too close to bedtime may cause your stress hormone (cortisol) levels to rise, which may lead to you feeling amped up right when it is time to wind down. Try to allow for at least 2 hours after a hard workout before bed to allow cortisol levels to come back down. Or, even better, try out some early morning workouts and you’ll be sure to be ready for bed by the time the evening rolls around (just to wake up and do it all again)!

Supplements may also help. Some studies have shown that supplementing our body’s natural melatonin produced during our circadian rhythms may lead to improved sleep quality. More research has also come out recently that may correlate supplementing magnesium at night to help regulate our nervous system and allow for better regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure, which could improve sleep. Just be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying any supplements to be sure that it works for you and with your current medications.

Improving your daily routine to allow for plenty of good sleep can have major benefits: improved mood and ability to think clearly, improved healing, and a healthier body over all. At Body One, we encourage our patients to get plenty of rest to help with their function, recovery, and performance. We also know that injury, chronic pain, movement & mobility problems can all affect your quality and amount of sleep. In fact, pain at night and sleep disturbances are one of the clues that you may need to see a professional about that knee you hurt in your recent pickleball game!

If you need help with a new injury, old injury, chronic pain, movement or mobility, or other issues of the musculoskeletal system, we have three North Indy locations: Fishers, North Meridian, and Zionsville. Come see the experts at Body One!