Sleep Better at Night by Shifting Your Daytime Habits With 7 Tips From Arianna Huffington

Photo: Getty Images/martin-dm; Graphic: W+G Creative
This isn’t your standard New Year’s plan. No restrictive diets, no weekly weigh-ins, no “whole new you” for this new year—because, hey, you’re pretty great already. These four expert-led plans—designed to help you move your body, eat more veggies, get a better night’s sleep, or show yourself some loving care—are all about developing healthy habits that better align with your goals.

We naturally associate sleep with nighttime, but daytime mindset shifts can make a huge difference for improving our ability to sleep when the sun goes down. These mindfulness practices and movements for better sleep start the moment we wake up and continue until it's time for bed.

Getting exercise throughout the day increases the likelihood that you'll get better sleep later—and that certainly doesn’t have to mean going to the gym.

For example, getting exercise throughout the day increases the likelihood that you'll get better sleep later—and that certainly doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. University of Pennsylvania researchers showed that those who walked for exercise got better sleep and that, as lead study author Michael Grandner, PhD, put it, “these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as running and yoga, and even gardening and golf.”

Small changes in the course of a busy day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator if you are able to do so, are sneakily effective. With that in mind, each of this week's tips for mindfulness practices and movements for better sleep aim to help you optimize your daily routine in small but meaningful ways.

A week of movements for better sleep

Day 15: As you brew your morning coffee or tea, focus on your breathing

Instead of watching television, looking at your phone, or going to your to-do list, focusing on your breathing will help you quickly center yourself for the day ahead.

Day 16: Block time on your calendar for exercise

Treat your exercise time like you would an important meeting or doctor’s appointment. You wouldn’t miss those! So, shift your mindset about exercise to be an investment in your sleep and health, and then prioritize that time for yourself.

Day 17: Turn one of your regularly scheduled meetings into a virtual walking meeting

You and the other meeting attendees can go on walks in your respective neighborhoods (as long as you can maintain safe social distancing), and speak on the phone as you walk.

Day 18: Take a one-minute stretch break whenever you can throughout the day

Frequent movement fuels your body and mind. Stand up, change positions, stretch—anything to get your blood flowing.

Day 19: Every time you brush your teeth, do a few squats

Stacking a new habit on top of an existing one is a great way to add movement to your day with no extra time added.

Day 20: Build recovery time into your day

Take a tip from top athletes who introduce small recovery rituals into their process: Simply stop what you’re doing, and bring your awareness to the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet—or both. Let your awareness stay there for a minute, and feel the tension leave your body.

Day 21: Once a day, take a short walk and focus on your breathing

You can still your mind even when you’re moving your body. If you’re in a place filled with noise and distractions, a quiet walk once or twice a day can help bring you into closer contact with yourself, your breath, and the world beyond your workplace or other sources of stress.

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