Sleep in humans is controlled through a cycle in the brain, which releases the melatonin hormone. This hormone has an impact on our sleep cycle.
So if you find it difficult to sleep early, it probably means your body is suppressing melatonin production. Some causes of this might include stress, exposure to bright light, or disorders like insomnia. The irregular production of cortisol due to these events causes difficulty in sleeping.
I once experienced sleep difficulties during my internship year. But I was able to control my sleep patterns by doing several activities, such as keeping a sleep schedule, exercising, using sleep aids, and more. In this article, I’ll explain nine of them you can try out to help you sleep earlier.
A Brief Overview of Your Sleep Cycle
Melatonin, a natural hormone in the body, influences your body’s sleep-wake. The pineal gland releases it at high levels during certain hours.
The light effect is responsible for controlling the entire process. So when there’s a high reflection of light on the eye retina, the pineal gland secretes less melatonin (and more when there’s low light). This explains why you feel sleepy at night and active during the day.
But melatonin isn’t the only hormone that controls the sleep cycle. Growth hormones, cortisol, ghrelin, and leptin, are also closely related to sleep.
Your activities, such as your job, eating or drinking habits, and other physical and emotional conditions, affect the production of these hormones. So, to develop an early sleeping habit, you need to change or adopt some activities.
Nine Activities to Help You Go to Bed Earlier
Here are some activities to improve an early night’s sleep.
1. Exercise Regularly
Developing a regular workout routine can help boost mental wellness and positively affect sleep patterns (getting you to sleep earlier).
Also, aerobic exercises improve slow-wave sleep, which is good for the body. During this sleep phase, the body goes into deep rest, giving enough time for your system to rejuvenate.
Note that the impact of exercising on sleep depends on time. However, there’s no wrong or right time. For example, I prefer exercising a few minutes before bed, but this might not be suitable for others. So, you can choose a time you find more comfortable.
But, to get the best out of exercising before bed, try working out an hour or two before your scheduled early bedtime. This will allow your brain time to relax and settle into sleep mode.
And to maintain a proper exercise routine, choose an exercise you love doing. If you enjoy yoga sessions more than running, then why not. This way, you enjoy working out and can commit to it. You can exercise for 30 minutes daily – that should do the trick and help you sleep earlier.
2. Maintain an Early Sleep Schedule
Your sleep schedule refers to your sleeping and waking time within a 24-hour cycle. Factors that determine these include age, work schedule, illness, and eating habits.
It can change over time because the human body is sensitive to change. So, a deviation from the usual arrangement of activities can cause it to adjust. This explains why your body can adapt to any sleep schedule you desire.
To create a proper sleep schedule:
- Choose a desirable sleeping and waking time
- Ensure your schedule covers at least seven hours of sleep
- Set alarms or reminders toward the sleep schedule
- Discipline your body to follow the plan by putting off all activities once it’s time for bed
- Rinse and repeat for the next five to six months
The last point is as vital as the first. Continuously doing an action, especially those with time stamps like a sleep schedule, causes the brain to adapt. After a while, your brain naturally sends sleep and wake signals to your body within the plan you set.
3. Use Natural Sleeping Aids
Occasionally, you might need extra help to get that desired sleep. A natural sleeping aid will come in handy.
These aids are herbs or supplements that help improve sleep. While we have natural sleep hormones in our bodies, sleeping aids can help boost their production when they’re low. Consequently, we get our desired sleep.
Some popular natural sleeping aids include:
Sometimes, we experience cases of irregular melatonin production, like during jet lag. In that case, melatonin supplements can act as a sleeping aid to help boost the sleep hormone.
You can consume the supplement without any side effects, but you should get a prescription from your physician before doing that.
Magnesium helps the central nervous system relax, leading to the production of chemical reactions that induce sleep. It also regulates the secretion of melatonin, which explains the reason for its sleep-inducing feature.
The primary source of magnesium in humans comes from the food we eat. When meals lack this nutrient, it causes several defects, including sleep disorders in aged people. You can prevent this and improve your sleep health by taking magnesium supplements.
Passionflower or maypop is a herb found in tropical areas of North America. It has several benefits, including sleep-inducing effects. Drinking a cup of passionflower tea before bedtime can send relaxation signals to your brain and boost sleep.
Valerian root is a herb located in Asia and some parts of Europe. Studies show decent improvements in human sleep routines after consuming this herb. So it can be a good option when building an early sleeping habit.
You can find lavender in almost every part of the globe. But its method of application is different from other herbs. Instead of consuming it, its scent is inhaled, which produces the desired effect. This refers to a process called aromatherapy.
4. Limit Blue Light Exposure
Blue light is a type of visible light we get primarily from the sun. Besides the sun’s blue light radiation, we can get blue light from our technological devices.
Modern devices like phones, laptops, and televisions now use Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology which has high amounts of blue light radiation.
This radiation has high energy and can limit the production of melatonin when exposed to the eyes. So, reducing your exposure to it can help you sleep early and keep your eyes safe.
Here are five tips to help you reduce exposure to blue light:
- Choose light bulbs with a warm tone for your bedroom
- Avoid using your devices before bedtime
- Use blue light toning software on your devices
- Use a blue light-blocking glass on your devices
- Wear a blue light protective glass at night
5. Avoid Overworking During the Day
Stressful activities can contribute to poor sleeping habits. These activities trigger your nervous system, causing it to release cortisol and adrenaline hormones. With these two hormones in high concentrations, sleeping earlier is almost impossible.
Sometimes, we can’t control our daily activities, such as work pressure or school tasks. But there are several ways you can reduce your stress levels, and here are some job-related ones:
- Understand the causes of your workplace stress
- Develop a healthy work schedule
- Create time for rest and recreation
- Talk to a superior about your challenges
- Get support from colleagues, friends, and family members
- Try regular exercise routines
- Develop a work-life boundary
As a student, you can manage stress at school by:
- Get enough rest
- Exercise regularly
- Do something recreational, like listening to music or playing football
- Eat healthy meals
- Get support from your school counselor, teachers, or family
6. Avoid Late Night Coffee
While trying to finish a project, a cup of coffee might help keep you up. But after that, you might find it hard to go back to bed. So instead of gulping that much caffeine, try other healthy alternatives like:
- Drinking water
- Eating fruits
These activities won’t only keep you up for the time you require to finish working, but they’ll also relax your mind and help you sleep better.
7. Take a Shower
A warm shower can help put your body in a state of relaxation, especially if you have just finished working out. It can also help to reduce your body temperature, signaling your mind that it’s time for bed.
8. Read a Book
Reading a book with a good plot can help move your mind from your current state to an imaginary state – making it easier to fall asleep. But while this can work, reading on a phone, tablet, or any device with a screen can cause the opposite effect – delayed sleep. So, read a hard-copy book instead.
To sleep faster, you can try reading books that you find boring or those that remind you of good memories – something along the line of a romance novel. Avoid horror books or any type that puts you in suspense – they might keep your mind up and prevent you from sleeping.
9. Listen to a Song
Songs help create a pathway for the mind to transit into a calm state. It affects parts of the nervous system, leading to reduced blood pressure, lower heart rate, and slower breathing – traits needed for sleep.
You can create a playlist with songs that are suitable for this purpose. One thing you should consider when choosing your playlist is the beat per minute (BPM). It describes how fast or slow the song will be.
The songs you choose should have a BPM that resonates with that of the heart – 60 to 100 BPM.
Benefits of Going to Bed Early
Sleeping earlier can help you rise early, which is best for workers or students. It also has a lot of health benefits, which I’ll discuss below:
Boosts Your Mood
Have you ever watched the sunrise? How did it feel?
Waking up early to watch the sunrise creates a feeling of excitement or pleasure. The brain produces an enzyme called serotonin while doing this activity, leading to an improved mood.
And you can only catch the beautiful sunrise when you’re up early. And you can get up early when you sleep early.
Improves Memory Retention
Have you noticed how you remember things you read in a clear way after waking up from a proper sleep? Sleeping earlier enables you to get good sleep, which boosts your brain’s ability to store and remember things.
During the day, our brain accumulates several memories. While some of these memories disappear, some go to temporary storage.
The brain connects to our memories during the deepest phases of sleep. While sleeping, the brain has enough time to go through the recent memories from our activities during the day and choose which ones to keep and remember.
Regulates Your Body Weight
Are you currently hitting the gym to cut off excess fat? While your regular exercise schedule and diets are vital, an early night rest can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Research has shown that adequate sleep has a positive impact on weight. This is because early sleep lowers the body mass index and causes weight loss.
Conversely, sleeping late can affect your appetite hormones – ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin affects your hunger level, and leptin tells you when you’re full. When you sleep late, your body suppresses leptin levels and increases ghrelin, which causes hunger and night eating – a step toward obesity.
Improves Heart Health
One in every three adults suffers from a stroke or high blood pressure in America. These are examples of heart illnesses in adults caused by several reasons, including late or poor sleep.
When we sleep, our blood pressure drops. This helps the heart circulate blood around the body. But sleeping late means our blood pressure remains high, which can lead to stroke or hypertension.
Boosts the Immune System
The immune system fights to keep the body healthy, and going to bed earlier can support this process. How?
Deep sleep can help memory. But this doesn’t only refer to the brain’s memory; it includes the immune memory. It means that sleeping earlier can help our immune system remember how to recognize and fight against antibodies. So, our immune system is at one of its best states while we sleep.
In the deepest phase of sleep, the body also has enough time to regenerate damaged cells and tissues.
Lowers Exposure to Diseases
Since sleep boosts our immune system, we have a better defense against diseases.
For instance, going to bed early can help prevent diseases like diabetes. It does this by boosting metabolic processes, which helps break down complex sugar and control hemoglobin. This explains why we urinate more in the early morning.
Sleep and stress are intertwined; stress causes late sleep, and early rest eliminates stress.
Sleeping early can also help improve your mental health. It happens as the brain recalls our memory and groups some of it as vital information. So when we wake up, we have a clearer mind.
Boosts Energy Levels
During the day, we’re more active, and we carry out several activities, which force our bodies to use a lot of energy. The only time when our body can regain the lost energy is during sleep. This explains why we feel tired after a short one – the body hasn’t fully recovered the lost energy.
So sleeping earlier will provide the body more time to regenerate lost energy, dead cells, and damaged tissues. This way, you’ll wake up much stronger with new energy levels.
Sleep is essential to our health and well-being. It affects our mood, work performance, and our judgment. Yet, many of us don’t get enough of it.
However, a few small changes in your habits can make a difference in improving the quality of your sleep. And since sleeping earlier helps with quality sleep, you want to put in the necessary effort to get it. Some activities you can do include exercising, using sleeping aids, listening to music, reading, and more.
- I Can’t Sleep Without My Partner – How to Deal With It? - March 11, 2023
- Why Does Sleeping Feel So Good? - March 10, 2023
- Broken Sleep: What Is It, and What Does It Mean? - February 28, 2023