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Five tips to help you fall into the blissful sleep you need

By Christie Melhorn, January 31 2017 —

Before going to sleep, most of us are guilty of curling up in bed with our phones to catch up on texts, scrolling through Instagram or creeping our exes on Facebook. Between staring at a bright screen and dropping your phone on your face, the phone-time-before-bed-time tradition does more harm than good. But even if you don’t cruise your phone before bed, trying out some of the following sleep rituals inspired by Canadian Living and The Huffington Post can help you ease into a deeper sleep.

Avoid sugar and caffeine:

Sometimes all you want is a sweet treat to reward yourself after a hectic day. While a little bit of chocolate or candy doesn’t hurt when the boost from your morning coffee has long worn off, try not to overdo it. Sipping a Coke or even snacking on a sugary granola bar before bed can prevent a proper sleep. The Sleep Apnea Center of Texas explains that an overdose of caffeine and sugar will keep you tossing and turning throughout the night. This will leave you extra irritable in the morning and more likely to grab another coffee to cushion your fatigue. Then the cycle starts again and you might forget what it’s like to have a thorough sleep.

Not willing to abandon your evening coffee? Try herbal tea or a warm glass of milk instead. If you’re hungry before bed, University of Chicago sleep specialist Lisa Medalie recommends eating a protein-rich snack full of complex carbs, such as a handful of nuts, a banana or some beef jerky.

Turn the volume down:

One of my professors at the University of Calgary once referred to music as “acoustic caffeine.” This term is definitely applicable to the diverse sounds we encounter daily, especially living in a city constantly under construction. While not all of us can fully insulate our walls and windows, keeping your bedroom door shut at night can muffle more intrusive sounds. Powering off your electronics and avoiding running the washing machine or dishwasher can also help improve your sleep. And while it may be tempting, try to save listening to your favourite power anthems for the morning when you can carry that boost into your day.

Set the mood:

If you’ve always wanted to decorate your room with those ethereal, soft fairy lights, a better night’s sleep might offer you justification. According to anxiety and insomnia psychologist Steve Orma, dim environments trigger melatonin production that helps us sleep. At least an hour before you want to sleep, start turning the lights down. The early melatonin
release will have you snoozing sooner when your head hits the pillow. As for lighting options, simply flicking on a lamp will do the trick. I also find lighting candles before bed extremely soothing. 

Sink into a stretch:

Throughout the day, stress can gather and bundle into uncomfortable pains in our bodies. Shake this off by unfolding into a nice deep stretch. Downward facing dog is a great full-body stretch that will loosen tension in your legs, smooth your spine and melt your shoulders.

Start on all fours with your knees and hips aligned. Place your hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Splaying your fingers, raise your knees off the floor. Lift your pelvis up and lengthen your legs. Elevate your heels off the ground. Keep your knees slightly bent and allow your head to hang. Flatten your shoulder blades and push your tailbone back. Drop your heels if possible. This will
maximize the stretch in your hamstrings and calves. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat at least twice.

Dump out your head:

Before bed, try to declutter your mind by writing out a list of what you need to get done or journaling about your day. Whatever thoughts or feelings are bouncing around your head, physically articulating them will help dislodge them and allow you to fall asleep more smoothly.

Whether or not sleep is a struggle for you, these tips and tricks can offer you higher quality rest. When you’re a student running on four to five hours of shut-eye a night with 100 things stressing you out, those few hours need to count. So next time your phone beckons you from your nightstand, flip it face down and take some time to nurture your mind and body.

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