Here are a few tips to get you off to sleep a little better. Sound sleep is important for a sound mind and healthy body. Let's do this!
1. Turn Off your Devices
This is an obvious tip and maybe you can't imagine sleeping without your phone next to the bed. However, studies show that blue light from devices can mess with our natural sleep patterns. Not to mention, that answering emails and texts up until the minute you close your eyes, can prevent your brain and body from relaxing and slowing down for sleep.
2. Relaxing and Consistent Bedtime Routine
This should be great news for you! An excuse to take some me-time and get better sleep as a result. Try doing something relaxing you enjoy before bed: read a chapter of a book, work on a puzzle, take a bath/shower, sketch or draw, have a cup of chamomile tea, etc. Feel the stress of the day melt away as your brain and body relax and get ready for sleep.
3. Dark, Quiet and Cool
There are three things you need to remember for an ideal sleep environment: dark, quiet and cool.
Dark - If your bedroom isn't dark enough consider taking electronic devices out of your room or turning your alarm clock display away from your bed, invest in blackout blinds or for a cheaper option, a sleep mask.
Quiet - Don't listen to the television, music or street noise while your trying to sleep. If needed, invest in a white noise machine or less expensive ear plugs.
Cool - The ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 degrees Fahreheit. Do you have to share a thermostat with a frigid roomie who keeps cranking the heat? Get yourself a fan for the bedroom, lighter bedsheets and sleepwear.
Keep a regular sleep and wake-up schedule, even on weekends, can help you sleep better overall. I know, our parents having been telling us this since we were teens, annoying, but true.
5. Finish Eating at Least 2-3 hours Before your Bedtime
Did you ever wonder why people say you shouldn't eat before bed? Is it because you'll have nightmares? Acid reflux? Because the food will just sit in your stomach all night long? No. The real reason is more interesting. After we eat, our bodies expends energy to digest our food. When our bodies expend energy, our body temperature increases by a couple of degrees. If you remember Tip #3, coolness is key for sleep. When we are laying restless in our beds at night, with our covers on and then off and then on again, it could actually be the increase in body temperature that comes with digestion. So cut back on those late night meals.
6. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine
This is a boring tip, isn't it? But caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are all things that can keep our bodies up at night. Our brain may be saying "Hey, I'm exhausted. Let's turn off for the night," but our brains are saying, "Let's keep this party going!" Maybe you won't really be able to attribute your poor sleep to chocolate, wine or cigarettes, other than having that familiar feeling of restlessness or anxiety. For some people having an afternoon coffee is no big deal, but for others caffeine after 10 am in a no-no. You'll have to experiment to see what's best for your body. Are you thinking of relaxing with a little Netflix this evening? Maybe with a little wine or a sweet snack? Maybe it's time to think again. I know, it's boring being an adult.
7. Eliminate Naps
Do you like to nap? Yes! A twenty minute power nap? Yes! Trouble falling asleep at night? Yes! This is a no-brainer, you need to cut that nap out.
8. Exercise Daily
Exercising during the day can help you sleep better at night. So go out and expend some energy. Get it out of your system. There's probably more energy in there than you realize. Are you unable to exercise because of time contraints or health/physical reasons? That's okay. Try to get some extra movement in throughout the day. Take the dog out for an extra walk. Park futher away. Do more household chores. Take the long way around.
9. Avoid Bright Lights
As the evening winds down, start turning down those lights in your home and on your electronic devices. The change in lighting is a signal to your brain and body to start turning things off. Consider getting a dimmer for your lights or maybe switch from overhead lighting to a lowlight lamp.
10. Ask for Help if you Need it
Have you tried all the tips on the list, perhaps many times? Then it might be time to consider consulting your doctor. Maybe something else is interferring with your sleep. You may think it's silly to go to at doctor to "complain" about your sleep quality, but the truth is, your sleep quality is integral to your quality of life.