10 Hacks to Bulletproof Your Sleep and Maximize Recovery
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When it comes to living with a thyroid condition, our day-to-day habits can go a long way towards improving our symptoms. One of the most important lifestyle factors we can leverage is sleep.
Even on the proper dosage of thyroid medication, there’s a good chance you still feel run down and fatigued much of the time. A good night’s sleep is more critical than ever, to ensure adequate time for your body to rest and recover. But when you’re battling thyroid problems, sleeping well can become elusive and frustrating.
Here are our top 10 tips for regularly sleeping restfully so you can maximize recovery.
1) Get to bed on time
The first step to getting a good night’s sleep is going to bed on time, yet it is one of the things that many of us struggle with the most! Try to stop eating, working or watching television earlier in the evening, and aim to be in bed by 10 pm. Allow enough time for 7–9 hours of sleep (not just time spent in bed) and even more if you feel your body needs it.
2) Keep a gratitude journal
Unload your mind from the stresses of the day and put yourself into a positive and relaxed state of mind by keeping a gratitude journal as part of your evening routine. Before you go to bed, write down the answers to these three questions:
- What am I thankful for today?
- What did I learn today?
- What am I proud of myself for doing today?
You will be amazed at the effect this can have on your stress levels, sleep quality, and mindset the next morning.
3) Move more
It can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise when you have a thyroid condition, particularly when you are tired all the time. But moving more can make a huge difference to your sleep quality. Gentle exercise such as an evening stroll or a light yoga practice can help put your body into a parasympathetic state and help you fall asleep. Be careful not to overdo it, as too much exercise will increase cortisol levels and do more harm than good. Also, try not to exercise within three hours of bedtime.
UP NEXT: Your Guide to Exercising with a Thyroid or Adrenal Issue
4) Cut down on the coffee
Caffeine intake increases cortisol levels and puts your body into a stressed state, making it difficult to fall asleep. Either cut out caffeine completely or keep it for the mornings only, when it is less likely to disrupt your sleep routine.
5) Make your room as dark as possible
Sleep in as close to total darkness as possible by using blackout blinds or a sleep mask. Turn off any electronics so that there are no lights at all in your sleeping environment. Even the tiniest amount of light can disrupt your circadian rhythms and throw off your sleep hormones, as well as your thyroid hormones!
6) Pass on the wine
Although a glass of red wine may make you feel more relaxed before bed, research shows that alcohol does not actually improve sleep quality. Studies show that, though alcohol may help you fall asleep quicker, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (which is hugely important for healing and recovery). Additionally, the closer you drink to bedtime, the more pronounced the effects.
UP NEXT: THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP AND SLEEP HYGIENE FOR THYROID PATIENTS
7) Create a calming bedtime routine
Try to avoid over-stimulating activities before bed, such as watching television, studying, or having intense discussions with family. Instead focus on calming practices, such as gentle stretching, reading a novel, or having a warm bath with Epsom salts. Choose activities that make you feel relaxed, and do the same things at the same time every day—having a consistent evening ritual will signal the body that it is time for sleep.
8) Keep electronics out of the bedroom
Not only do electronics (like televisions and smartphones) prevent us from getting to sleep on time, they also emit harmful electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) that interfere with sleep quality. Either remove all electronics from the bedroom or disconnect completely at the power source. Try to charge your phone in another room and invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock instead.
9) Use sleep supplements and essential oils
Talk to your physician about utilizing some of nature’s most calming ingredients to help you nod off. Valerian root, Californian Poppy, passion flower, l-theanine, and lemon balm are options known for their positive effects on insomnia, anxiety, and stress. CBD oil is another alternative that may help prolong restful sleep. Diffusing essential oils such as lavender or bergamot can also help create the perfect environment for a deep and peaceful sleep.
10) Avoid artificial lights after sunset
Avoiding exposure to artificial lighting after sundown is one of the most important things we can do to help restore our circadian rhythms and sleep better. Bright lights convince our body that it is morning, and sleep becomes that much more difficult. Turn down the lights as much as possible and use candles where you can. If you can’t avoid having lights on, invest in a pair of blue-blocking red glasses, which will filter out the harmful light frequencies and help prepare your body for bed.
Try one or more of these tips today and you’ll be amazed at the difference in the way you feel. Sweet dreams!