Sleep plays a key role in our overall health. So getting a good night’s rest is not just helpful, it’s imperative!
Unfortunately, going to sleep, staying asleep, and waking up refreshed is not always the easiest process. But we’re here with solutions.
Here are 14 proven ways to help you start sleeping better tonight.
Increase Daylight Exposure
Your body keeps time through circadian rhythms. This natural body clock reacts to the physical, mental, hormonal, and behavioral changes in a 24-hour cycle. Primarily responding to light and dark, circadian rhythms alert you when to stay awake and when it’s time to sleep.
If you’re not getting enough light, you will throw your body clock off. Natural sunlight or other forms of bright light will help keep your circadian rhythm healthy. In various studies, those with insomnia saw a significant improvement in their sleep quality and duration after exposure to bright light in the daytime.
Decrease Blue Light Exposure at Night
While you need plenty of light in the day, tons of light at night can be damaging. This goes back to circadian rhythms. Bright lights at night can trick or confuse your brain into believing it’s daytime. And blue light is the worst.
If you use electronic devices at night, large amounts of blue light are sending signals to your brain that decrease the sleep hormone melatonin. When it comes to deep sleep, you need to produce melatonin. Consider wearing blue light glasses, installing blue light blockers, or turning off your devices two hours before bed.
Limit Daytime Naps
A quick power nap can do wonders for your energy level, but long or irregular naps will likely have the opposite result. Anything longer than 10 to 20 minutes can throw off your sleep cycle.
If you are a fan of the daytime nap, don’t worry. This varies from person to person. Set alarms to figure out when you wake up feeling refreshed and which nap length leaves you feeling groggy. The key is to be consistent once you figure out that sweet spot.
Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day
Caffeine keeps you going–but it does not stop just because you are ready for bed. Drinking caffeine later in the day stimulates the nervous system. The effects can last for six to eight hours, so you may have trouble relaxing at night.
Sometimes, we crave a cup of coffee in the afternoon or evening. And it’s okay to indulge, but consider making the switch to decaf with deep and uninterrupted sleep in mind.
Exercise Daily, But Not Right Before Bedtime
According to science, exercise is one of the best ways to improve your sleep and overall health. In fact, it’s proven to enhance every area of sleep significantly, including battling insomnia. Exercise may also help you fall asleep sooner.
But oftentimes, exercising at night can increase sleep problems. The main reason is that exercise stimulates hormone production that leads to alertness. However, some people have no trouble sleeping after nightly exercise. So if you enjoy a light workout before bed and sleep soundly afterward, don’t sweat it.
Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
For solid sleep, consistency is key. Going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time can significantly improve your sleep quality and your health.
In contrast, irregular sleep patterns can disrupt and alter your circadian rhythms. If you’re looking to improve your sleep, being consistent with sleep is one of the best and simplest ways to do it.
Create a Soothing Environment
Your bedroom should be a place that encourages relaxation and restfulness. Studies show that your sleeping environment plays a big role in how well you sleep. You should create a space that feels calm.
Start by reducing all disturbances. Limit external light sources like alarm clocks, aim for cooler temperatures (as a warm room can keep you awake), and decrease noise. Some people opt for blackout curtains to keep unwanted light out. Air purifiers or sound machines may help to create consistent, non-interruptive sounds for light sleepers.
Lavender is considered a wonderful natural remedy to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality. It can be incorporated into your sleep routine in various ways. From essential oils to candles and sleepy teas, lavender has soothing properties that can help you unwind.
Chamomile is another earthy sleep aid option to help you relax before bed. In fact, it is considered a very mild and natural tranquilizer. The plant’s calming effects are believed to be caused by apigenin. This chemical binds to receptors in the brain to decrease anxiety and start the sleep process.
There are a wide variety of natural supplements all designed to aid in a good night’s sleep. The king of these is melatonin, the primary sleep hormone in the brain.
Valerian root, gingko biloba, magnesium, l-theanine, and glycine are all great options as well. Make sure to talk to your doctor before adding any supplement to your routine.
Don’t Eat Late at Night
A late-night snack is tempting, but it’s never a good idea. Eating before can lead to extremely poor sleep and hormone disruption, especially if it was a large meal.
Generally, the rule for late-night eating is to close the kitchen four hours before bed. Also, consider the quality of your snack. Not-so-great food choices also contribute to poorer sleep.
Take a Hot Bath or Shower
A relaxing bath or shower is by far one of the most popular and effective ways to improve relaxation. Not only will it help you unwind, but it is also said to help some people fall asleep faster.
If you don’t feel like getting all the way in the tub or you’ve already showered, studies show that soaking your feet can have the same positive impact on your sleep quality.
Turn Off Your Devices On Time
The National Sleep Foundation recommends you stop using electronic devices like cellphones, computers, or televisions at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
If you’re not ready to sleep, reach for a book on your nightstand instead. Studies have shown that reading a book before bed can help you relax faster–and unlike devices, won’t cause damage to your sleep cycle.
Clear Your Mind Before Bed
A healthy pre-sleep routine is key to a good night’s rest. Jotting down thoughts and worries, doing deep breathing exercises, meditating, and listening to relaxing music are some of the most helpful ways to unwind before bed.