While getting to sleep is a nightly delight for some people, it can be a cause of anxiety for others. If you have ever had difficulty in falling asleep quickly, you know just how stressful it can be to lie in bed while staring at the ceiling and worrying about how much sleep you are missing. Use some or all of these 20 tips to improve your bedtime habits, create the perfect sleep environment and ready your body for the restful night ahead.
1. Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night
Your body has a natural sleep/wake cycle. By keeping a regular bedtime, you can harness this cycle and feel more rested while improving the quality of your sleep. Plus, you will be more apt to fall asleep quickly if you are not overly tired.
2. Invest in Blackout Curtains
Blackout curtains keep light from the moon as well as morning sunlight out of your bedroom, giving the room a cavelike feel. Extreme darkness at nighttime works well with your natural circadian rhythm.
3. Keep Your Bedroom Cool
Most people sleep well in rooms kept at cool temperatures. Try to keep your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit each night. This temperature helps match your falling core temperature as you go to sleep.
4. Create a Comfortable Bed
While the air in your room should be cool, you do not have to spend the night shivering. Invest in blankets to keep warm as well as a supportive pillow designed for your ideal sleep position. In addition, if you have had your mattress longer than 7 to 10 years, consider replacing it to improve your comfort while sleeping.
5. Relax with a Shower or Bath
A warm bath or shower before bed also works well with your body’s natural temperature changes. By heating up the body and rapidly cooling it afterwards, a bath or shower signals your brain that it is time to sleep.
6. Ban Electronics from Your Room
Electronics with blue light not only light up your room but also delay your body’s natural release of sleep-inducing melatonin. Plus, beeps and vibrations from your devices could awaken you.
7. Turn Your Clock Around
Your bright alarm clock could also be affecting your sleep by shining in your eyes. If you need to have it in your room to awaken you at the right time, try turning it around so that you are not tempted to look at it as you fall asleep.
8. Create a Bedtime Routine
Following the same bedtime routine every night will signal to your brain that it is time to wind down and get ready to sleep. Your routine does not have to be lengthy. Consider taking a nightly bath or reading a book in bed.
9. Try Soothing Essential Oils
Certain essential oils can help you relax, and some research has shown that they may aid in sleep. Lavender is the most popular option, and chamomile, sandalwood and cedarwood can also help if you place them in a diffuser.
10. Use Visualization Techniques
As you lie in bed, try visualizing a peaceful place. By picturing calming surroundings, you can help drive worrisome thoughts from your mind.
11. Try Progressive Relaxation
Another way to calm your thoughts and reduce physical stress is to relax each muscle in your body. Start at your toes and work your way up to your head while progressively clenching and relaxing muscle groups.
12. Focus on Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can soothe away anxieties as well. Inhaling for four seconds, holding your inhalation for seven seconds and exhaling over eight seconds has proven to be particularly effective for falling asleep.
13. Journal Away Your Stress
If you tend to worry over your day or stress over what you have to do tomorrow, journaling for even a few minutes before falling asleep can get your worries out of your mind and onto paper and can also help you sort through your feelings.
14. Avoid Daytime Naps
Daytime naps can ruin your nightly sleep, especially if they are two hours or longer. If you absolutely have to nap to get through the rest of your day, opt for a power nap lasting less than 30 minutes.
15. Stay Away from Caffeine in the Evening
Caffeinated drinks and even such foods as chocolate can keep you wide awake. Try eliminating any caffeine after 2 p.m.
16. Exercise Regularly
Regular cardio exercise in the morning or afternoon improves high-quality sleep. If you prefer evening exercise, stick to more relaxing types, such as yoga, which focuses on deep breathing.
17. Get Plenty of Sunlight in the Morning
By throwing open your curtains in the morning, you are actively regulating your circadian rhythm, helping your body produce sleep-inducing melatonin at the right time in the evening.
18. Watch What You Eat
Besides staying away from chocolate, try to choose sleep-inducing foods if you like to nibble on something before bed or are too hungry to fall asleep. Carbohydrates mixed with proteins are particularly sleep-inducing. Consider a banana, almonds, oatmeal or cheese and crackers.
19. Consider a Supplement
After checking with your doctor, you may want to try a known sleep-inducing supplement. Melatonin is the most well-known option, but magnesium, GABA or 5-HTP could also work for you.
20. Try to Stay Awake
Although it sounds paradoxical, telling yourself that you want to stay awake to read the next chapter in your book could actually trick your brain into wanting to fall asleep while turning off the stress surrounding this time.
Your nightly sleep not only affects your physical health over time but also impacts your mood and overall mental health for the next day. When you do not get enough sleep you may feel crabby, indecisive and emotional. By using these 20 tips, you can get your sleep back on track while increasing your daily energy, improving your mood and giving your body plenty of time to care for itself.