A good night’s sleep on the regular is important for your brain and body. That’s why quality sleep solutions, routines, and habits are highly searched-for terms on Google.
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Most of us already know that sleep is important. We have it told to us over and over. But societal norms also repeatedly trump those concerns.
When I had a so-called real job, quality sleep solutions would have come in handy. I was waking up at 6:00 every day just to make it into work by 7:45. I would have just enough time for a quick bathroom stop before grabbing some office-quality coffee and settling into my cubicle by 8:00.
Sometimes, I would have a particularly difficult time finding the right quality sleep solutions for a decent slumber the night before. If I knew I didn’t have the usual crushing workload, I’d guiltily call in “sick” the next morning. Being tired was not the same as being sick, in my mind.
Some sleep scientists would beg to differ, though. We need quality sleep solutions to be dependable, competent employees or consultants. As such, I think more priority needs to be placed on them.
Fortunately for freelancers, we have a bit more freedom to ensure this important health responsibility is fulfilled. Indeed, over the last decade or so, I’ve built up my own toolbox of quality sleep solutions.
So here are my top six quality sleep solutions in no particular order. You know which ones you need to work on the most, I’m sure!
1. Eat lightly in the evening
Among one of the many quality sleep solutions, make sure to have a light meal for dinner. Avoid snacks after that as well.
Granted, I occasionally break that rule for a celebration or have a small dessert. But I keep to the rule any other day, which ensures I don’t go too overboard when I do indulge.
Try a colorful healthy salad that doesn’t have to be all that boring. Chop up some carrots, red cabbage, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, and black olives like I do.
I then top it with some crumbled feta and a drizzle of homemade honey Dijon dressing. I finish it off with a side of sliced avocado and edamame for a final treat. As another one of my quality sleep solutions, I avoid complex carbs at night. Those are harder on the digestive system.
I encourage you to also cut back on complex carbs at night to avoid what’s called silent reflux. That’s acid reflux without any symptoms, but the acid is still damaging to your stomach and esophagus.
Aside from that, quality sleep solutions do not include making your digestive system work hard at bedtime. It may be counterproductive and cause you to lose an effectively restful night.
2. Limit artificial light after dark
It’s hard to avoid artificial light in this technologically advanced world. But if you are aware of the bad effects it has on your sleep, you can use quality sleep solutions to limit it.
Being exposed to light after the sun goes down messes with your sleep rhythms. It initiates signals to your brain that it’s not time to go to sleep yet or even that it’s time to get up. Light hinders the release of melatonin, which is the natural chemical in your system that tells you to go to sleep.
Worst of all are blue light–emitting electronic devices, or LEDs. Researchers have found that people who look at tablet computers for 2 hours before bedtime experience low-quality sleep that can even continue for several nights after they looked at the tablet.
That’s why keeping your phone out of the bedroom is one of my quality sleep solutions. Once you’ve seen the last notification or text, put the phone to charge in another room or far from your reach. That’s also why you should shut off your TV an hour or two before sleep.
I admit that I don’t always follow this rule. But I counter it by having a soft light by the bed. I use the light to read a little before gently getting sleepier.
Matthew Walker, who wrote Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, recommends some other quality sleep solutions like:
- dimming lights
- yellow tinted glasses to block out the blue light
- software to desaturate the blue LED lights on devices as evening approaches
You could also try using blackout curtains as one of your quality sleep solutions if you live in a neighborhood with bright street lights and traffic lights.
3. Lower your thermostat at night
Most people’s body temperatures lower at night and that facilitates good sleep. However, because of our extreme habit of using temperature control in our homes, our bodies can’t regulate properly when the temperature is always the same.
As one of many quality sleep solutions, sleep researchers recommend lowering the current thermostat by 3 to 5 degrees at night. The ideal temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 Celsius).
If that seems too cold to you, play around with it. But always make sure to drop it by a few degrees in comparison to the day time. Also, try a quiet fan to move some air around and cool the room down.
4. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed
Do you have what I call “thinking attacks” at night? Here’s what I mean: You wake up and start thinking about something that seems incredibly important at that moment.
Sometimes it is important, but often it’s just a minor issue. And that minor issue creates a major sleep problem in need of quality sleep solutions, stat!
Keeping a notepad and pen by your bed means that as soon as you have a new idea, you can write the idea down. I have gotten pretty good at writing in the dark myself. But if that’s not easy for you, get yourself a dim soft light just for these moments and don’t look directly at it.
Get everything out of your head! I emphasize this as one my quality sleep solutions in my time management course as well. Getting it out of your head will help it stay out so that you can sleep at night. I also include a notepad as one my top 10 time management tips for freelancers.
5. Try living without an alarm clock/snooze button
Try living without an alarm clock as one your quality sleep solutions. And for your own sake and that of those who love you, stop using the snooze button!
If you are following a regular sleep schedule, then you should be waking up at the hour that is natural for you. Morning larks, like me, start waking up around 5:30 or 6:00, so I make sure to go to bed by 10:00 each night. Night owls shudder at my schedule and are up until 2:00 and awake at 10:00.
Remember, you’re a freelancer, so you don’t have to report to anyone at their specified time! You do your work on your own schedule, so adjust your workload around your natural sleep patterns for a healthier life with quality sleep solutions.
If alarming your heart, quite literally, were not bad enough, using the snooze feature means that you will repeatedly inflict that cardiovascular assault again and again within a short span of time.”– Matthew Walker in Why We Sleep, Kindle edition, p. 280
And if you insist on using an alarm clock or you need it for those one-off mornings when you have to be sure to get up at a certain minute, obstruct use of the snooze button by taping a small piece of carboard over it.
6. Limit caffeine and alcohol
I’m sure you know that caffeine has the power to keep you lively and energetic and wake you up in the mornings. But it also creates another one of those vicious cycles running counter to quality sleep solutions.
You drink your cuppa joe in the morning to wake up, have an afternoon pick-me-up in the afternoon, and sip a little java after dinner. Then you struggle to sleep, wake up groggy, and start the whole thing all over again.
The quality sleep solutions to get out of this cycle are to cut back on caffeine, if not completely, and follow a regular sleep schedule. Coffee substitutes include chicory root tea or Maya nut tea from Blue Zones.
Some people suggest having a glass of wine at night instead of the after-dinner coffee for a pleasant lethargic effect. However, that effect is just sedative or anesthetic and not really sleep-inducing like your natural melatonin is. Your sleep then ends up fragmented and full of brief awakenings.
I hope these six quality sleep solutions help you begin having an effective sleep routine. If you have any other suggestions, please add them in the comments or share this post on social media using one of the links below.