Have you seen our post on why getting your beauty sleep in each night is so important?
A well rested you not only looks better but also performs better mentally than a sleep deprived you. That said, have you ever had days where you woke up and felt just as tired as before you went to sleep? As if you’ve never slept in the first place? It happens to the best of us. The amount of sleep you get is important but the quality is even more so.
Whether you’re dealing with bouts of insomnia, racing thoughts, or simply have too much energy before bedtime, we have some tips that can help you get a quality night of sleep and finally rid your face and body of that chronically tired look.
1) Set a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Perhaps the most important aspect of getting a good night’s sleep is establishing a consistent routine of waking up and falling asleep. In case you didn’t know, your body has an internal clock called your circadian rhythm which is based on a 24 hour period. If you’ve consistently fallen asleep and woken up at a certain time you may have noticed that you begin waking up at that time naturally without an alarm clock even when you don’t have to.
Your body eventually adapts to whatever hours you teach it to wake up at. Some people’s sleep patterns may have adjusted to very late hours so they stay up late and wake up late. While we recommend falling asleep before midnight for optimal health, and thus attractiveness, the most important thing is you stay consistent with your sleep schedule. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time even during the weekends (yes we realize this is easier said than done).
2) Be Careful of Taking Naps
While naps are useful for a quick recharge and boost in energy on a tired day, try to keep them relatively short (<45 minutes) especially if its during the late afternoon. A longer nap will make it harder to fall asleep later, keeping you up late and messing up your sleep schedule.
We find that the optimal time to take a nap is a little after noon, sometime around 1 or 2 PM (this is popular in Spain where they call it a “siesta” and in other Mediterranean countries).
3) Avoid Blue Light
While you’re awake, try to maximize the amount of time you get natural sunlight. Yes this means the more time you can spend outdoors the better. As the sun starts to set your body will naturally begin producing melatonin — the hormone responsible for regulating your sleep patterns. That means that on the flip-side, you need to reduce your exposure to light before bedtime and after it gets dark.
The main culprit here is the blue light that comes from our TVs, phones, and computers. When our eyes see blue light, it stops the production of melatonin which we need to fall soundly asleep. The reason this happens is because the sun shines a great amount of blue light and our eyes are genetically programmed to equate blue light to daytime. Your brain really can’t tell the difference it just notices the stimulus so the light is basically telling your body “Sleep? Not yet, it isn’t dark out!”
That’s why we recommend this free computer program called fl.ux which reduces the amount of blue light that comes from your computer screen. Fl.ux detects the time and as it gets darker outside it’ll gradually adjust the screen’s color to emit less blue light. It really makes falling asleep easier if you absolutely need to use a computer before bedtime. Check out their site for more info.
Other than electronics, keep the rest of your room as dark as it can possibly be. All light needs to be removed, including any that comes through your windows. If you live in an urban area or somewhere with heavy light pollution, you’ll need to get some quality shades. If you look at the sky when it’s dark and you can barely see any stars (one of the downsides to living in a city…) you probably live in an area with too much light.
Cover those windows up and if you can’t get the room as dark as you need it to be look into getting some blackout shades to help you out. Quality blackout shades will block any light from coming through windows making them perfect for urban environments and neighbors who leave on their outdoor lights.
4) Wind Down
A relaxing pre-sleep routine about an hour or two before bedtime can help slow down the racing thoughts and lower your energy level if you’re not feeling tired just yet. Reading a book, meditating, or doing other stress management techniques can put you in the right state of mind for sleep. If you’re feeling stressed out about an upcoming event try to get your mind off it. This is where meditation, even for a short amount of time, can help. Avoid getting into an emotionally charged state which will keep your brain active rather than drowsy.
Here’s a tip: Visualize yourself releasing all tension from each muscle of your body, one by one, starting with your toes. Slowly work your way up until you reach your head and focus on each individual body part for a few seconds as you do it. This can help relieve anxiety and calm your mind.
5) Adjust Your Room Temperature
The optimal temperature for falling asleep is a slightly cool room, somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees depending on your personal preference. A warm room will leave you sweating and a cold room will leave you shivering. Like all things in life, you need to find a balance. Try to keep the temperature at around 65 degrees F when you go to sleep.
Another weird tip: Try going to sleep with a warm pair of socks. For whatever reason when your feet are slightly warmer than the rest of your body it sends a message to your brain that it’s time to go to bed making it easier to fall asleep. At least that’s what Swiss researchers found in this experiment. Try it out. It seriously works.
6) Make Your Bedroom Comfortable
If your back aches and neck hurts when you wake up, make the changes necessary to not wake up in pain every morning. Whether it’s a new mattress, a better pillow, or some type of support, your sleep-time should be refreshing not painful. Investing in high thread count sheets woven using superior Egyptian cotton can make a world of difference to the quality of sleep you get.
7) Avoid Stimulants
Here are the two which give people the most problems:
- Caffeine: Keeps you awake hours after you finish consuming it (up to 10-12 hours afterwards!). Make yourself a rule: No caffeine after lunch. Think about it, if people are drinking coffee and energy drinks to keep them awake guess what you’d do if you wanted to fall soundly asleep. That’s right, you’d avoid them (once again easier said than done).
- Nicotine: This is another one that will keep you awake. Look, quitting smoking will improve your health and appearance in a number of ways other than better sleep. Yes you already know that but if you can at least cut back a little you’re in for much more relaxing and restful nights.
8) Exercise During the Day
In a study done by Dutch researchers on young men, they found that the more calories they burned during the day, the better sleep they got at night. Now even though the study was conducted only on younger men we suspect it applies to women too and for people of all ages.
(Update: Turns out we were right. This study found men and women over the age of 55 who had insomnia and started running 3x per week self-reported improved sleep quality and quality of life).
Just make sure your workout isn’t too close to bedtime. Exercise raises your body temperature which if you remember from above, makes it harder to fall asleep. You want your body to be cool except for your feet — they should be slightly warmer.
Anyone who regularly exercises has probably noticed it helps you fall asleep. Just another reason to make exercise one of your top priorities especially if you’re trying to look your best. After diet, physical activity is number two on the list of things that will have a positive impact on your overall well being so get your body moving.
That concludes our guide on better sleep. While it may not seem like something that will make you look drastically different, too little of it will make you look worse.
If you have any of your own tips for a better night’s sleep let us know @maxmylooks on Twitter or Pinterest!