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We’ve made so many amazing advances with our high-tech devices, but when it comes to rest and sleep, science shows that our bodies have not caught up! All that screen time is still a new phenomenon for our system (and lifestyle) to deal with. To make matters worse, technology is so integrated within our lives, we also now tend to be busier and multitask more than ever, even into the wee hours of the night. It might seem like we’re getting more done, but in reality, our body — and sleep — takes yet another hit.

Did you know that all cells in our bodies are programmed to work in a 24-hour cycle: the circadian rhythm? Even plants and animals are all very carefully attuned to this cycle. It’s an amazing and wonderful feature of life on this planet; however, we can easily upset this rhythm. Fortunately, with a few simple tweaks to our high-tech and fast-paced lives, we can learn to better harmonize ourselves with this natural sleep cycle, reaping its benefits in the process. By developing healthy habits around sleep, we can also create a restful environment that allows the brain and body to do the work needed to perform at their highest levels.

Here are some easy tips we can all take to better tune into our natural sleep cycle:


1. Natural Light

Ideally, we should start and end our days with natural light. If possible, try to expose the eyes to daylight first thing in the morning, specifically within an hour of waking up. Likewise, watching the sunset in the evening when the sun is at a lower angle can clue our bodies into the fact that sleep is on the way. Then, as we start to naturally unwind, we can also better protect ourselves against any artificial light exposure we might experience. (Plus, sunsets are beautiful! It pays to check them out regularly as a way of wrapping up each day and preparing for the next.)


2. Repeatable Habits

Another key to preparing our bodies for rest and getting the best sleep possible each night is to create habits — and even rituals — around sleeping. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, for example, creates a pattern that the mind and body will adapt to. In order to go to sleep at the same time each night, you might also create a wind-down routine that you can implement. This could involve consciously unplugging from our devices at a certain time, taking a warm bath or shower, enjoying a soothing cup of chamomile tea, reading a book, or meditating. These “bedtime rituals” help the mind to disengage and the body to relax, welcoming in even more restful, restorative sleep.


3. Minimize Distracting Devices

Just as our system responds to natural light, it also takes cues from artificial lighting. The screens that we use – phones, laptops, TVs – all interfere with experiencing quality sleep. Bright lights in general cue our bodies to keep going rather than to wind down. So, for better sleep, learn to disengage from these devices whenever you can. Nighttime or low-light settings are all wonderful options. Dimming overhead lights in the evening can also help for sleep preparation.


4. Sleep-Friendly Food

Another aspect of life that impacts our overall sleep quality is the food we eat, especially in the evening before bed. The time we eat and the type of food ingested not only affect our overall health but can also impact our sleep. Health researchers often point out the benefits of eating meals at a regular time each day, especially when it comes to good quality rest. You should also avoid eating large amounts of food in general in the hour or two prior to the start of your evening wind down time. Finally, for the best sleep possible, it’s always wise to avoid stimulating beverages, like teas, coffee, energy drinks, sodas, in the evening.

Remember: many different factors can affect the quality of your sleep, but a few simple tweaks and adjustments to your existing nightly routine can have a profound positive effect on your sleep quality. As a result, you may also find you enjoy improved productivity and elevated mood the next day.

As Thomas Merton once said, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” And that’s as true for sleep as it is for all parts of our daily life.

Here’s to many restful and restorative nights ahead!
For even more information on improving sleep and living a healthier lifestyle, visit the Innergy App.

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