There’s a holiday for everything I guess. However, in all seriousness, sleep is a big deal. Sleeping well can help you maintain a healthy weight, keep anxiety at bay, and feel energized during the day. Unfortunately, today’s modern lifestyle isn’t the best at supporting a good night’s sleep. While insomnia can have more serious underlying causes, for a majority of people, seemingly unimportant lifestyle habits cause of tossing and turning all night. Here are a couple simple practices that can help you sleep better.
1# Stick to a Schedule.
Establish a regular sleep schedule for your body. When you go to sleep at 10 pm one night and 1am the next, your body never gains a sense of when it’s “bedtime.” In this case, it takes you much longer to wind down before falling asleep each night. On the other hand, going to bed each night and rising each morning at roughly the same time makes it easier for your body to sleep soundly. You’ll naturally begin to feel tired before bed each night, fall into a deeper sleep more quickly, and you’ll maybe even begin to wake up without the help of your alarm in the morning.
2# Quick Naps Only.
If you’re in the habit of sleeping in the daytime, make sure you truly keep this sleep a “nap.” Do not sleep longer than 45 minutes during the day. When you sleep longer, it throws off your body’s natural schedule. You’ll find yourself more energized late at night, and you may have trouble falling asleep. Instead, keeping daytime naps to 20 minutes will give you a boost of energy without seriously disrupting your sleep cycle.
3# Avoid Alcohol and Cigarettes.
Alcohol should be avoided for the 4 hours prior to sleep. Although it can cause drowsiness initially, it messes with your sleep in the middle of the night. As the body metabolizes the sugars in the alcohol, it releases energy and adrenaline in the early morning hours when you should be in your deepest sleep. Instead, you may find yourself sweaty, thirsty, and wide awake at 4 am.
Cigarettes should also be avoided if you’re having problems sleeping. Nicotine is a powerful stimulant, and smoking too close to bedtime or too frequently during the day can keep you up at night or leave you tossing and turning.
4# Avoid Caffeine.
If you’re having problems sleeping, caffeine could be the issue. Many of us don’t realize that our late afternoon coffee stays in our system long after bedtime. For a deep sleep, avoid any sources of caffeine- coffee, tea, energy drinks, or chocolate- for at least 6 hours prior to going to sleep. Generally speaking, it’s good to stop consuming caffeine after 3 pm. This gives your body plenty of time to process the caffeine and wind down for the night.
5# Avoid Spicy or Sugary Foods.
These foods pack a punch of flavor when you eat them, but they can also throw a couple swings as they make their way through the digestive tract. This can keep you from sleeping soundly. Instead, avoid these kinds of foods in the 4 hours before you go to sleep. If you’re really struggling to get some rest, consider avoiding these foods altogether until you get your sleep under control.
6# Exercise Regularly.
Exercise can help eliminate extra energy and stress your body builds up during the day (especially if you work a desk job). Aim to exercise at least 20 minutes per day. It doesn’t need to be intense; even just a walk around the block will do. This can help your body calm down when it’s time to head to bed. Just make sure you’re not exercising too close to bedtime. Getting the heart pumping and the blood flowing before you try to get some rest can make it difficult to fall asleep.
7# Love Your Bed.
Make your bed as inviting and as comfortable as possible. Invest in some nice, soft sheets, and make sure the warmth of your bedding suits the climate you live in. You should love the time you spend in bed, and it should be something to look forward to at the end of a long day.
8# Manage Your Room Temperature.
Make an effort to ensure that your bedroom is a comfortable temperature. If it’s been a hot day, maybe that means opening the windows after sunset, turning on the fan, and allowing the breeze to come through. If it’s a cold winters night, find a space heater to warm up your room just a touch before you crawl into bed. Sleeping in a comfortable space greatly increases your chances of getting quality rest.
9# Block Out Noise and Light.
Have a street light that shines into your room? It could be keeping you up. Invest in some decent curtains or shutters, and you may notice you drift off to sleep quicker. If you live on a noisy street, close up the windows and try to find some comfortable earplugs. Earplugs take a while to get used to, but once you do you’ll be able to sleep much more soundly.
10# Reserve Your Bed for Sleep.
Take other activities like Netflix and emails elsewhere (sad news, I know). Your bed should be a space only for sleeping or cuddling with a significant other. Bringing work, social life, and scheduling to bed can make it more difficult to turn your brain off at night. Instead, leave these activities for the kitchen table, living room, or office. Your body will associate your bed with only sleep, and in turn, you’ll get more of it.