It’s really easy to develop bad bedtime habits. Whether you watch TV right before bed, have late night cravings, or sleep in a messy, cluttered space, there are so many things that can make falling asleep and staying asleep seem difficult or impossible. But it doesn’t have to be so stressful.
We’ve created a quick list of the best, surprisingly simple ways you can start to get better sleep tonight–no medication required. If you try these easy tips and tricks, you’re likely to start getting better, more restful sleep so you can face each day refreshed.
1) Develop a Clear Bedtime Routine
This is so important to getting great rest! A bedtime routine works in two specific ways: first, it signals to your brain that you are now starting to prepare for sleep; and second, it allows you to relax and focus on routine, habitual tasks like bathing or brushing your teeth.
Sometimes referred to as sleep hygiene, a routine allows your thinking to start slowing down and pulls you away from the stress of work or other responsibilities that can interrupt your sleeping process. Another way to ensure you get good sleep is to try going to bed and waking up at the same times everyday (yes, even on weekends). This way, you are on a schedule and your brain can get accustomed to routine.
2) Create a Relaxing, Stress-Free Space
Everyone has little quirks to their sleep routine, but it’s important for every single person to cultivate a quiet, relaxing space for sleeping. Try using a dimmer on your light to create a darker, more comforting room. You can also try different methods of stress reduction like meditation, aromatherapy, humidifiers, or calming soundtracks to center your focus on just getting great sleep.
3) Monitor Your Eating & Drinking
It may seem like a little thing, but monitoring your eating and drinking habits before bed can help your body slow down and prepare for sleep. Don’t eat dinner too late or too early–being too full or too hungry can distract your brain from relaxing. Similarly, avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol that can ruin quality sleep. Even though drinking alcohol may make you feel tired initially, the rebound that occurs after consumption can be strong enough to wake you up from a deep sleep.
4) Exercise Daily
Exercise is an important part of your overall health, and it can also be the key to getting better sleep. Making sure to include some kind of exercise or physical activity during your day will help you feel more tired at night and encourage quality sleep. Note: you don’t want to exercise too close to bedtime or the release of endorphins will likely keep you awake longer.
5) Set Yourself Up For Good Sleep
Stack the deck! You want to ensure you’re giving your body every opportunity to get good sleep. This can include basic stress management techniques or even talking to your doctor to see if there is something causing your sleep concerns. It’s possible that your poor sleep is the result of a sleep disorder like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Especially if you have untreated OSA, you should ask your doctor about sleep testing that will not only reveal your condition but lead to effective treatment. If you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, it’s important that you find the cause and a possible solution as fast as possible. If left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to far more serious long-term health concerns.
6) Manage Your Exposure to All Light
You may already know that blue light (e.g. the light emitted from electronics) is counterproductive for good sleep. Blue light signals to your brain that it is still “daytime” and then prevents the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. If you have a television in your room, or spend time on your phone in bed, this can confuse your brain and make falling and staying asleep especially difficult.
However, normal sunlight or artificial light can also be an issue if you sleep at odd hours or are close to outdoor light sources. If you find sleeping difficult because of these reasons, you should purchase blinds or blackout curtains. Creating a dark, relaxing space that makes you forget about the outside world will help you sleep better.
Sleep can be difficult for many of us, but there are ways to give yourself the best chance to start sleeping better. These are just a few simple solutions to try and create a space, both physically and mentally, where you can relax and unwind. By making quality sleep a priority, you will enhance your quality of life and make you better prepared to deal with life’s stresses.