The Best Healthy Bedtime Habits For Better Sleep
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There is no one better at convincing us of the benefits of sleep than health and science journalist Max Lugavere.
"We've got our social lives, our professional lives [and] our love lives," the Genius Foods author says. "And when we get good sleep, it's like the tide rising and lifting all the boats in our harbor. It's really incredible."
"It's the ultimate anti-aging tonic," he continues. "It helps our mental health, it helps our brain health, our cardio [health]. Everything."
Lucky for us, Max shared what he likes to do before bed to ensure getting the best night's sleep possible.
1. Do a Breathing Exercise
"You want to be in a parasympathetic mode when you're eating and digesting and also before you go to sleep," he tells us. "It helps your body calm down."
"[This breathing exercise] can really help get your body primed for sleep."
Here's what to do:
- Inhale for 4 seconds with your tongue placed up on the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth.
- Hold that breath for 7 seconds.
- Exhale for 8 seconds.
2. Foam Roll Your Muscles
Use a foam roller to roll out your muscles — like your glutes or whatever muscle of yours happens to be sore — to relieve tension and relax your body before bed. Don't forget to foam roll both sides of your body evenly.
3. Use a Weighted Blanket to Regulate Your Temperature
"Temperature is one of the primary reasons why people feel sleeplessness," Max tells us.
Now, we all know that piles of blankets and comforters can keep someone who's cold warm overnight — but what about people who tend to get hot and sweaty at bedtime?
Use a weighted blanket, the health journalist says. But not just any weighted blanket — one that cools itself. (Max suggests The Blanquil Chil.)
4. Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses If You Watch TV Or Use Your Phone Before Bed
If you're like Max, you like to watch TV before going to bed (or you like scrolling through your phone) — but did you know that you could be affecting the quality of your sleep by doing that?
"The blue light emitted from TV screens, laptops and even smartphones causes your brain to think that it's daytime and that can inhibit, or at least suppress, the release of melatonin," Max explains, "which is your body's sleep hormone."
To combat that, Max wears amber-colored glasses that can reduce blue light-induced melatonin suppression by about 60 percent. That means, he explains, a higher likelihood of getting to sleep faster and sleeping more soundly after binging your favorite TV show before bed.
5. Use Warm Light Bulbs In Your Bedroom
Max doesn't have any overhead lighting in his bedroom. Instead he has one lamp with a warm bulb.
"That kind of sends a signal to my brain that I'm hanging out around a campfire, which no doubt my ancestors spent lots of time doing," the Genius Foods author says. "And it helps me wind down for bed. It's not stimulatory."
6. Consume Reishi Mushrooms Before Bed
Max enjoys a cup of hot reishi extract before bed, he says — and he insists it helps to mellow him out.
Learn more about Max-approved foods that could help you get a better night's sleep here.
7. Hang Blackout Curtains In Your Bedroom (Or Wear an Eye Mask)
"Research shows that even dim light during sleep can affect your cognitive function the next day," the health journalist says.
To block out any light, Max suggests hanging blackout curtains — but if you don't have those, don't fret.
Since Max doesn't own blackout curtains himself, he uses a very comfortable and loosely fitting eye mask that completely blacks out all light from his eyes.