How to optimize your sleep routine

If there’s anything we could all use a little more of, it’s quality sleep. Sleep affects almost every aspect of our physical and mental wellbeing -- from immunity and metabolism to mood and concentration.1 However there are plenty of things that can interfere with our ability to attain restful and restorative sleep every night.

In fact, sleep deprivation is such a common problem that an estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders.2 Yep, we said million! Most adults over the age of 18 require 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night3 but most of us aren’t even reaching that minimum requirement. If you’re part of that group, don’t worry, we’ve pulled together all the top recommendations for optimizing your sleep routine that’ll have you drifting off deeply in no time.

  1. Set a consistent schedule

Start going to bed and waking up around the same time every day (yes, even on weekends). By adopting a regular sleep schedule, your body will naturally fall into a restful sleep cycle AKA a rhythm of feeling tired and alert at the same times every day.4

  1. Create your dream environment

Take the time to customize your sleep environment to encourage the highest quality sleep possible. Experiment with temperature-controlled bedding, weighted blankets, relaxing aromatherapy, sounds, sleepwear and blackout curtains. Since sleep is incredibly individual, it might take some trial and error to find what works for you, but generally spaces that are dark, cool, quiet and well ventilated encourage our bodies to relax.

  1. Avoid alcohol & caffeine

Although caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, they don’t balance each other out and each can seriously interfere with your sleep. Caffeine can stop you from falling asleep in the first place while alcohol can initially help you fall asleep but will often wake you up in the middle of the night and hinder you from getting a deep sleep. The same is true of eating a large meal just before bed. It’s best to give your body some time to digest before hitting the hay. Some nutritionists suggest 3 hours between your last meal and bedtime. 

  1. Supplement your routine

While there are all types of supplements on the market that claim to enhance sleep quality, perhaps the most highly recommended and rigorously tested is magnesium.5 One of seven essential macro-minerals that our bodies need in large quantities to keep running smoothly. Magnesium is absolutely vital but our bodies don’t produce it, so it’s important to get it through food and supplements. In addition to protecting metabolic health, stabilizing mood and reducing stress, magnesium binds to the GABA neurotransmitter which quiets nerve activity to encourage deep relaxation and quality, recovery sleep.6 

That’s why we created Dream State™ magnesium sleep spray. Just a shake and a few sprays on the feet before bed will help calm anxiety, relax the mind and body, and support a deep restorative sleep state. We formulated our deep sleep spray using ultra-pure forms of two of nature’s most effective and proven sleep aids -- magnesium and ashwagandha – with a proprietary blend of sense-soothing, muscle-relaxing and anti-inflammatory ingredients. This spray features a unique transdermal delivery system that enables rapid cellular update through the skin on the soles of feet for better absorption and fast-acting relaxation. 

  1. Be aware of light exposure

Light plays a powerful role in allowing (or preventing) us to achieve deep, restful sleep. Experts recommend going outside to receive direct sunlight exposure upon waking (as little as 5 minutes outside can be helpful) to set off a neural circuit that controls the timing of hormones cortisol and melatonin7. Further, morning sunlight helps us “wake up” and thus start the daytime clock / countdown to bedtime. While it is suggested that afternoon or early evening outdoor light is also encouraged, it is recommended to avoid bright, artificial light close to bed time so the internal sleep clock doesn’t get confused… which brings us to…

  1. Ditch the devices

While it’s easy to sit in bed at night scrolling on social media, catching up on emails, debating world events or watching funny animal videos, it’s best to leave the devices outside the bedroom. Blue light is incredibly stimulating and actually deters you from wanting to sleep – especially in the middle of the night when biology says your eyes are extra sensitive to light. By checking your phone in the middle of a sleep cycle, you might be telling your brain – via the light – that it’s time to wake up, and thus, it will likely be more difficult to fall back asleep. Plus, keeping electronics out of the bedroom also makes it a space that’s purely for rest and relaxation, telling your brain that when you enter, it’s sleepy time.

Share your best sleep tips with us now at @barefootscientist.