7 Simple Ways to Sleep Better

Somedays, you feel like, look like, and act like a zombie; and sometimes you feel like you could run a marathon (well… you dream about doing it). But good sleep does not come to everyone. Maybe when you were a child you slept like a baby (hahah, get it?). Anyway… if you want good sleep every day of the week, make sure you’re not committing any of these sleepy sins.

1. Set your phone out of reach before bed.

Put your phone away from you at night to prevent staying up later. The research is crystal clear on blue light, which is the type of light that your cellphone emits. There are several types of light wavelengths in the spectrum, but blue light wavelengths specifically help boost attention, reaction times, and mood, which is great… unless you want to sleep. Keeping that bright monitor a few inches from your face at night (with the lights turned off), only amplifies the blue light effect on your body. It messes up your circadian rhythm, or your “sleep algorithm.” If you’re normal like I am (well, we’re all a bit weird), you put your phone down, turn your head the other way on the pillow, wait 30 seconds, and grab your phone again to scroll through a feed. (But if you involuntary grab your phone that much, maybe you should try a digital detox.) Rinse and repeat.

2. Cool it on the pre-sleep margaritas.

Drinking before you sleep can disturb your sleep schedule. Do you fancy gin at the onset of dusk? Do you enjoy watching the strains of ruby red wine drip down the crystal frame of your glass? Maybe you just drink whatever someone hands you. Maybe you’re straight edge. Regardless of your flavor, alcohol ruins your sleep. Most of the time. For some, alcohol can actually improve their sleeping schedule–but don’t covet them. That’s a small fringe. For those who have heavier dosages of alcohol at night, they might experience disturbances in their sleep in the second half of their nocturnal sleep period. You might find that after a night of “excessive” drinking–this depends on your genetics, and provided you’re of age–you reach groggily to your nightstand, praying for a large glass of water to quench your body that is currently experiencing an internal drought. That means you overdid it.

3. Don’t exercise right before bed.

Exercising earlier, not later, in the day can help keep your body heat down. Everyone and his/her mother has told us for years that exercise is healthy for us in innumerable ways. But did they tell us when we should exercise? Well, it depends on your Netflix schedule, am I right? Yes. Studies have shown that our exercise can directly help our sleep, and can even aid in instances of chronic insomnia. But it matters when we exercise, too. If you exercise too close to the time when you’re readying to doze off, your body may not cooperate best. If the exercises you did were anaerobic or rather vigorous, your body-heat may be too high to settle you down into a staunch slumber. This means… you can exercise earlier, watch Netflix after, and then go to sleep soundly. Sweet!

4. Dim your lights in the evening.

You can help your circadian rhythm by dimming your lights in the evening before you sleep. You can do this to be romantic, sure. If it’s just you and the mirror, though… don’t. That’s going to make us all sad for you. Your circadian rhythm responds to light–and this is probably the biggest factor in your body patterns. It’s simple:
  • If it’s light around you, your body says it’s time to be awake.
  • If it’s dark, it’s time to assume your oddly gymnastic position in your bed and sleep.
If you don’t have a light dimmer, try to turn off other lights in the house if they bleed into your room. Turn your computer off and, if you’re a hero, your phone. The longer your body has to adapt to a lower light level, the more easily you will transition into shut-eye time.

5. Stop sleeping in a sauna.

It dosen’t matter if you sleep naked or clad in 8 layers: if you’re hot in bed, your sleep will suck. If you’re sweating during sleep, or if you wake up looking like an ogre leaving a swamp, maybe it’s time to ditch some of the layers. Or, if it’s summer, be a minimalist when it comes to your nighttime accoutrement. Whatever you need to do to shed the heat, do so. However, I can’t prescribe nudity for you, so if you’re going nude and someone stumbles upon your bareness: it’s your fault and I’m innocent.

6. Watch the caffeine in the evening.

Drinking caffeine and night can disturb your sleeping schedule. Most normal people have a caffeine vice: may it be coffee, soda-pop, energy pills, etc. But again, most normal people drink that stuff in the daytime, unless they have a night shift. Caffeine, or any type of similar stimulant, is great for energy (especially when it’s natural energy) but not so friendly toward your sleep when taken at night. A study a few years ago analyzed people consuming caffeine in different time intervals before going to bed. They found that having caffeine even 6 hours before sleep can be disruptive to your sleep schedule. So even if your relatives from London are visiting in the eve, refuse the tea and tell them you’re sick or something. You want sleep, and nothing is splitting up you and your bed.

7. You worry about tomorrow too much.

You will get better sleep if you don't worry about tomorrow. Matthew 6:34 Can you believe that anxiety can actually affect our sleep? Anxiety affects everything and everyone. A wise one who lived and roamed long ago said something supremely wise about worry:
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Truly, even if something harrowing is happening to you tomorrow (and you’re sure of it…), don’t sweat it. Your sleep–your well-being–is more important than whatever tomorrow holds. So sleep soundly. But don’t let a leg hang off the bed… ’cause… you know. boogeyman.

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism is not new: in fact it’s only been recently revitalized, modernized, decorated, and publicized. Some of the chief figures of this neo-ideology are Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and they, through clever domain registration and word-marketing, have become this generation’s centerfold on material denial. Minimalism is the art or lifestyle of living only with things we need. It means deep, thoughtful self-reflection that gets us to look at our material clutter and realize, “I don’t need those things.” Minimalism, though, is more than just a restrictive tally on personal belongings: it’s a daily check on the way we live. When it comes to “stuff,” not all Americans are experiencing surplus anymore; but for most people, there’s more than enough to go around compared elsewhere in the world. So when we sit down for Thanksgiving and recite what we’re thankful for, we can safely bet we’re barely scratching the surface of the litany of blessings we have that will go undeclared. We’re going to look at some ways in which this new Minimalism is ripe for healthy living. But first, let’s see how it’s perceived in the undertow of culture.

Minimalism in the Media

There’s another word in the mix here, and it’s almost a synonym: abnegation, the denying of one’s own rights, conveniences, pleasures, etc. Abnegation, I imagine woefully brought to people’s attention by the hit series Divergent, has portrayed something more negative than it should be. I’ll highlight the difference by a quick allusion to a popular movie, Divergent. In the series, protagonist Tris is born up in the Abnegation faction; and those ‘minimalist’ values are inculcated in her saliently. When getting her hair cut in front of the mirror, she is reminded of the faction’s exclusive restriction: that they may only look in the mirror four times per year. But in this faction, the adherents are not asked to remove their material possessions: they’re not really talking about possessions at all. Abnegation is focused on something less visible: the matters related to heart and the appetite for things we want personally and socially, like fame, wealth, celebrity-contoured features, and more. As you can tell, the emphases on these two ideals differ: Minimalism focuses on material things and abnegation on immaterial. Each has its place in a healthy lifestyle, but let’s focus on one here, and how to practically employ it.

What’s healthy about Minimalism?

As I mentioned, Thanksgiving is nearing its full-bellied arrival, and most in America will engage in a vital tradition: giving thanks for what we have. The weekend, too, is a double-whammy, with both Thanksgiving and its material-fascinated successor, Black Friday. When it comes to materials, Thanksgiving doesn’t come up, but Black Friday sure does, with an expected rise of 47% in sales from last year. If now’s not a time to apply minimalist principles, when is? Here are some things Minimalism can be when you embrace it heartily.

It’s freeing

I don’t mean freeing in a 1960’s sense: I mean it’s literally decluttering. We have too much stuff, and as days go on we treat our attics and closets as industrial compactors. Stuff goes into a box, the box goes into storage, and our money goes out of our wallets. *Consider all of your belongings that you haven’t touched or thought of this year: Can you do without them? You needn’t jettison all of your holiday decorations, but surely you have some spare DVDs or pieces of furniture whose eternal duties are to collect dust.

It’s economical

Garage sales are the clutter of the decluttering: filling your lawn or driveway with things archaic and random, broken and untouched, that a passerby who saw your makeshift sign might come and take them off your hands. You might think that lamp from ’97 that has an opulence only fitting 5% of homes is useless. Wrong. That lamp is money, as are many things in your storage that you might pass off as refuse. *Consider the funds you can gather from stale placeholders in your house, and use that money for something more useful, like caring for yourself or caring for others–may that be gift, a day out for grub, a health treatment, or a cushioned bank account.

It’s humbling

Humility. There’s the kicker, eh? It’s a humbling process to live below your means, especially when this nation elevates our nations beyond recognition and offers us an modestly priced accessory for just about anything. The next iPhone. The next 360-laptop/tablet. The next car, app, accessory, technology, ad infinitum. Many people in the world don’t have access to any of this stuff (though, the number of mobile phone owners is forecasted to be 67% in 2019). While it’s not always wise to make comparisons–since it can often bereave us of joy more than we hope–it’s good to do it once in a while; and in the scope of Minimalism, it’s mandatory. *Consider your daily activities: What do they involve materially, and what would happen if you used 25% fewer of those items? 50% fewer? Make a determined path toward a new status quo for your life, one that involves fewer things.

It’s challenging

Minimalism, when approached sincerely, is not a venture to try out for fun, blog about it, get black-and-white, stoic Instagram pictures from it, and go back to normal. It’s intended to leave a lasting impression on you. If opening your eyes to the bounty you have before you and then, by necessity, having to remove that bounty piece by piece isn’t challenging… You’re already a minimalist! *Consider the last time you conquered something difficult: physical, vocational, emotional, etc. What was your denouement, your victory lap–what did you do to celebrate? Might have it been drinks with the friends, a feast of victors, an online purchase? Look to your victories as the end in themselves: the victory is the struggle. Minimalism ends the material celebration at the victory line.

It’s inviting

A healthy bout with Minimalism is, at last, inviting in several ways. It invites you to don new lenses through which you see the world; to tackle challenges that require all of you but none of what you have; to love people and not things. Minimalism invites you to live below your means, not in line with them or with anyone else’s. *Consider opportunities you’ve had in the past, or just this week, to make a difference in someone’s life by time spent or good deed done, when some thing interfered: a low battery, car problems, a shopping appointment, house cleaning, etc. If you have to abandon minor duties to make room for person, do it. The most precious commodity is not your things, but your time.
Embracing life minimally is healthy, because it allows you to see yourself without the unnecessary things that pollute who you are inside. So give it a try! What do you have to lose? Well… probably a lot of stuff.

Attacking Late-Night Snacking

Have you ever been told not to eat late at night because that’s how you gain weight? And it wasn’t just about eating extra food: it was about eating specifically late at night? Oh yes, truly that is when the voracious calorie monsters come out at night to breed. There they stand, arm in arm, to replicate a hundred fold as you lie there in innocent sleep, only to awake to an extra, totally-uncalled-for belly fold or striation of cellulite! Nah. That’s not true. (But gosh, I’d start installing security cameras and setting up booby traps if it were.) Calories are calories, and 3500 of ‘em is one pound of fat. While exercise is vital to live a healthy life, you must get in control of your diet. For the most part, that means eschewing high-calorie foods… and eating fewer of them on a regular basis. So let me show you why eating at night is so… sinister… so deadly–in the form of melodrama.
You wake. It’s 12:37 A.M. and you are in a sleepy stupor, perhaps a stumbling one; and even though you have lived in your house for years, you’d be doomed to navigate through it with your eyes closed or in the pitch black, because you’d hit every wall and stub all your toes (in my experience…). (Or you walk through your house like Frankenstein with stretched-longer-than-usual arms to get your bearings.) You slowly navigate to the one place in the house that is your haven: the kitchen. You’ve arrived in the dark chambers of the culinary palace, careful not to make a peep on the wooden floor or frigid tile to wake someone who may know that you’re snacking at night. Now it’s time! Light of light emerges from the vertical rift between both sides of the refrigerator door: It’s the pearly gates of food within, and you are eager, so eager to know what’s inside (even though you do, because you stock it). Regardless whether the treats are novel or drab, fresh or stale, you devour all in sight and cloy yourself into oblivion. You feel great! Haha, no… You feel miserable and trapped. You might feel like it’s a whirlpool of appetite that will drown you; and you left the floaties in the car, didn’t ya?
But be of hope! We have some tips to help you control your appetite as you wield the shield against the power of late-night snacking–except against Pop-Tarts. I… I have no defense against those.  

Late Night Hacks

 

Brush your teeth after dinner

Yeah, yeah. Hygiene. We’re serious, though. This tactic is easy to implement but not always supremely effective (depending on the person’s inclination toward hygiene). It usually works for those who don’t like to eat after brushing your teeth before going to bed. Eating after brushing is almost like drinking orange juice with the faint taste of toothpaste in your mouth. Gross.

Brushing your teeth, [hopefully] part of the phase when getting ready for bed, is that penultimate act of sleep that tells you and your voracious, greedy appetite that you have a date with your pillow, and the refrigerator needs to get a life.

“I want a snack, but I’d have to brush my teeth again… I don’t wanna do that. I’ll just go to bed.” BOOM. Victory.

 

Avoid alcohol

Not everyone likes the sentence above. It may be a menace to you—but if you’re looking to refrain from snacking, it may be the best thing you can do. Not only does alcohol have a sly ability to sneak in calories here and there without you knowing it, it also surrenders you of any ounce of self-discipline you had before you took that sip or chug… or keg-stand. A glass of wine or a swift cold one may sound wonderful after dinner (or before), but it’s not going to be your friend when you realize the next morning that you unnecessarily ate two handfuls of Cheez-Its when you really weren’t hungry. (But they were good and you know it.)
“Now that I can think soberly, I realize I’m not really hungry: I just like the cheesy dust that adorns my fingertips after a late-night date with Cheez-Its.”
 

Drink more water

If you can, drink water only. Even though it is translucent, tastes like nothing (except maybe a few minerals to the water connoisseurs), and has zero calories, it still fills your stomach. Now you may be like me and find it nearly impossible to drink and eat at the same time. That cup of water may be sitting there, staring at you while you eat your food one piece at a time: but once the meal is over, only then it will get drunk. It is worthy. But if you’re not like me, try giving the water/healthy beverage of choice some attention before or while you eat. Much like eating a salad to fill your stomach before you gorge on meat or heavier foods, water will sate you enough to give you discipline as you eat. It will mean that you will eat less potato salad when you know you’re not hungry—as it takes roughly twenty minutes for your stomach to alert you that you are actually full.
“Ohh, so I wasn’t hungry enough to eat three fistfuls of food—I was just compensating for thirst? I should work on that daily water quota!”
 

Be active in the day

I know, it’s difficult to live an active lifestyle when we’re so busy all the time; and if you add in a full work schedule or a quiver of children, you hardly have time to take intermittent sips of your wine (Just kidding… kind of.). When you exercise, especially to the point of sweat, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. I’m sure you heard of what these babies can do for you, but I’ll tell ya. Endorphins are by and large pain relievers, like that good feeling you get when you go on a run. But, once you finish the run, when your legs turn into Jell-o, you need someone to carry you, and you forgot how to function. You’re sore. The natural chemicals were exuded in you to relieve pain so that you can continue exercising and pushing your body past its comfortable limits. Once the endorphins run out, though: Let the hurt come in. (It’s the same thing that happens when you laugh so hard that your stomach hurts: the endorphins ran out.) Exercising in the day will rob you of your excess energy you get from your food, and that’s good! You won’t be restless when dusk comes, and the energy needed for the arduous walk to the fridge to get another handful o’ chips well be much harder to muster, considering your body already used it.
“If I were active earlier in the day; then the leer of that cake on the counter that *SOMEONE* bought won’t mesmerize me anymore because I’ll be too tired to get up.” Muahaha.

  These are a few quick tips to help you control your appetite and defend against the midnight siege upon your appetite! What are some other life hacks you’ve used that have been successful?