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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mitteness

5 Unconventional Ways to Improve Your Sleep

I've written on the importance of sleep before and given you 10 conventional ways to improve your sleep. Here are 5 unconventional ways that you may not have tried yet to improve your sleep.

Read fiction: I love reading! I read from all kinds of genres, but when I want to go to bed, I pull out the fiction. It's often much lighter than non-fiction and can induce more relaxation then reading the news or more fact based books. If you are prone to nightmares, you may want to avoid anything too scary or suspenseful, but an enjoyable fiction novel may be just what you need to wind down and get a good night's sleep.

Breathe through your nose: The way you breathe matters. It plays a very important role in activating your nervous system. When we are riled up, exercising or stressed out, we often breathe through our mouth because our sympathetic (fight, flight or freeze) nervous system is activated. Breathing through your nose activated your parasympathetic (rest, digest) nervous system. Notice which you are doing more throughout the day and actively work to breathe more often through your nose. Also, sleep in a position that allows you to easily breathe through your nose.

Write everything down: Do you find your mind racing when you lay down to go to bed and are worried you'll forget it all in the morning? Keep pen and paper by your bed so you can write anything down you want to remember the next day. Then you won't be further stressed to remember it. This type of brain dump may allow you to calm down and focus on sleeping rather than what you need to remember tomorrow.

Spend more time outside: Have you ever experienced a day when you spent too much time outside and you were just spent and tired in the evening? Good! You already understand the importance of fresh air and the regulation of our circadian rhythm. Enough fresh air, exercise and movement outside can lead to much better sleeps. No matter the time of year, dress appropriately and make an effort to get outside during the day.

Catch the sunrise: Sun and light exposure do wonders for our circadian rhythm and mood according to a few studies, including this one. Sunrise exposure is nature's way to guide you to wake up. When we are in sync with it, it makes going to sleep, ideally after nightfall, much easier. Sunrise exposure directly affects our hormones and brain. Want to try this one out? I challenge you to the 30 Day Sunrise Challenge: get outside for any amount of time within 30 minutes of the sunrise for 30 days in a row. Let me know how it goes!

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