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Wouldn't it be great if you could stop experiencing that mid-afternoon fatigue that requires you to get another cup of coffee or reach for an unhealthy snack?
What if you could go into work and be able to return the sentiment when someone yells, “Good morning!” These are things that many people wish for but don't have because their quality of sleep at night is so poor.
Sleeping well has a direct impact on both your mental and physical health, as well as your quality of life. Without proper sleep hygiene, your daytime energy can steadily decline, along with your productivity, your emotions, and your body weight. The truth is, many of us spend our evenings tossing and turning, struggling to get comfortable or to ease into the sleep that our bodies and minds need. (This could be prevented by creating a good evening routine.)
There is a fix to this problem. Making some simple changes to your daily routine and bedtime habits can have a huge impact on your quality of sleep. This will help you feel increasingly mentally sharp, full of energy, and even emotionally balanced throughout the day.
Getting quality sleep may seem like an impossible task when you’re staring at your ceiling at 3:00 in the morning, but it is important that you realize just how much control you have over the quality of sleep that you get. By experimenting with these 41 tips, you will likely be able to find what works best for you, allowing you to enjoy better sleep and improve your overall health.
What You Will Learn
- Understand your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Be mindful of your light exposure.
- 6. Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning.
- 7. Spend more time outside during the day.
- 8. Let natural light into your home or workspace.
- 9. Use a light therapy box if you can't spend time outside.
- 10. Avoid bright screens one to two hours before your bedtime.
- 11. Avoid watching late-night television.
- 12. Don't read with backlit devices one to two hours before bedtime.
- 13. Make sure the room is dark when it's time to sleep.
- 14. Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.
- Exercise during the day.
- Watch what you eat and drink.
- Relax and clear your mind.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment.
- 27. Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet.
- 28. Keep the noise down or use soothing sounds.
- 29. Keep your room cool.
- 30. Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex.
- 31. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- 32. Teach pets to sleep in their own beds.
- 33. Try a leg pillow to relieve back pain.
- 34. Use a cervical pillow to relieve neck pain.
- 35. Try using essential oils for sleep.
- Learn to fall back asleep faster.
Understand your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
1. Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
Setting your body's internal clock will help you get the most out of your sleep. The key to doing this is to choose a bedtime that feels right for you, and then stick with it. Eventually, your body will get used to this schedule, and you will be able to fall asleep easily at the same time every night.
Likewise, if you wake up at the same time each morning, your body will also get used to this. Eventually, you will not need an alarm clock to wake up because your body will be ready to get up at the same time every day.
2. Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends.
Many people think the weekends are “meant” for sleeping in. While this may be true after some long nights in college, there is little truth to this sentiment once you are a bit older. The more your sleep schedule differs on the weekends from weekdays, the more you will feel the effects of it.
If you do stay up much later than normal one night, take a nap the next day instead of sleeping in. This way, you can get back on your normal schedule that night by going to bed on time.
3. Avoid napping, especially if you have trouble falling asleep.
If you stick to your regular sleep schedule, it is best to try to avoid napping during the day. While napping is an effective way to catch up on some sleep, if you can't sleep at night, taking a nap during the day may make it even more difficult to get some ZZZs. If you have to nap, aim for a 20-minute power nap after lunch.
4. Do some light physical activity after meals.
You may tend to feel a bit drowsy after meals and want to just sit down or lie down in front of the television. But here is the thing: If you give in to this fatigue, you are likely to stay lazy for the rest of the day.
Do some light physical activity after eating, whether this is going for a short walk or just cleaning up the dishes. Stay up and move around for a little bit to avoid getting sleepy.
5. Keep a sleep log.
Keeping a sleep log may be a key factor in helping a medical professional diagnose a sleeping disorder of some sort. To keep a sleep log, make a chart to record your bedtime, wake time, duration of your sleep, number of times you woke up at night, and the quality of your sleep.
You can compare this with notes about the activities you did during the day and the foods you ate so you can see how your actions are affecting your sleep. Once you pick up on some patterns, you will likely be able to determine a few things that are hurting your sleep hygiene.
Be mindful of your light exposure.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep/wake cycles. It is controlled by light exposure, meaning your brain secretes more of this hormone when it is dark outside and you are not being exposed to light. This makes you tired.
Alternatively, when it is light outside, you are more alert because your body is producing less melatonin. The problem is, many things in modern life, such as televisions and computer screens, can change your body’s production of melatonin, which will then shift your natural sleep/wake cycle.
6. Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning.
Try to do this as close to the time that you get up as possible. Open your blinds to the bright sun as soon as you wake up, or take your breakfast outside to eat on the porch. Having natural light exposure will help your body and mind wake up and be ready for the day.
7. Spend more time outside during the day.
Get as much exposure to natural light during your waking hours as you can. Go for a walk during any breaks you take during the day, take your dog to the park, or meet a friend at an outside cafe for a snack.
8. Let natural light into your home or workspace.
To get even more natural light during the day, expose yourself to it as much as possible while you are indoors. Put your desk by a window if you can, and make sure you keep your blinds open.
9. Use a light therapy box if you can't spend time outside.
Light therapy boxes can be really helpful if you are either not near a window or you work in a dark room all day. This will help normalize your circadian rhythm as much as possible if you can't get outside much.
10. Avoid bright screens one to two hours before your bedtime.
Screens on your television and computer emit a blue light that disrupts your body's natural production of melatonin. Avoiding looking at screens for two hours prior to bedtime will help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.
11. Avoid watching late-night television.
Watching television at night can also keep your brain active if you are watching a stimulating show. Read a relaxing book instead, or listen to some quiet music.
12. Don't read with backlit devices one to two hours before bedtime.
These screens will mess with your melatonin production as well. Instead, read a regular book under a dull lamp before going to bed.
13. Make sure the room is dark when it's time to sleep.
Having any light in your room can disrupt your sleep at night. Make sure all lights are turned off, and cover up any small indicator lights that are on any technology in the room.
Get blackout curtains to block any street lights as well. A small nightlight can help you get to the bathroom if you need to get up in the middle of the night.
14. Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.
If you do need to get up, hopefully, the small nightlight will be enough to lead you to where you need to go. Avoid turning on the lights, as they will shock your system into waking up, and you may not be able to get back to sleep.
Exercise during the day.
15. Exercising for even just 10 minutes a day helps.
If you want to fall asleep faster and wake up rested, get some exercise during the day. Even taking just 10 minutes to do moderate exercises such as walking or biking can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep.
Exercise also helps reduce your risk of developing sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. It will also help reduce anxiety and depression, which can also help you get a good night's sleep.
16. Avoid exercising too close to your bedtime.
Exercising too close to bedtime might give your body too much stimulation and decrease your ability to calm down and fall asleep. Try to finish your exercise at least two hours before you go to bed so you give yourself a chance to relax before trying to go to sleep.
Watch what you eat and drink.
17. Limit caffeine and nicotine.
These stimulants can keep you up at night. Try switching to water or decaf tea after lunch so you won't be jittery in the evenings. If you smoke, try to cut out the habit completely to improve both your sleep and overall health.
18. Avoid big dinners.
Not only can big dinners leave you uncomfortably full, but they can also cause you to experience heartburn or acid reflux at night. Eat a light dinner a few hours before bed to avoid feeling the after-effects of your meal when it is time to get some sleep.
19. No alcohol before bed.
While you may think that alcohol relaxes you and will help you go to sleep, it actually disrupts your sleep in the middle of the night. While it may help you fall asleep quickly, you will likely wake up in a few hours, thirsty and uncomfortable.
20. Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening.
If you drink too much before bed, you will have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Try to drink your last cup of liquid about two hours before you go to bed so you can empty your bladder and not have to get up.
21. Cut back on sugary foods and refined carbs.
If you tend to eat a lot of sugar and refined carbs, such as candy and white bread, you may experience more sleep arousals. This is because these types of carbohydrates delay the release of melatonin in your body.
If you want to get a better quality of sleep, try cutting back your sugar intake. Skip the dessert after dinner and try to limit your simple carbs during the day.
22. Some nighttime snacks help you sleep.
There are some great things you can eat at night to help induce sleep. These include:
Relax and clear your mind.
23. Do some deep breathing.
Doing some deep breathing can help you relax and prepare your body for sleep. Try this breathing exercise before going to bed:
24. Try progressive muscle relaxation.
Progressive muscle relaxation is an effective technique to help you sleep. This type of relaxation therapy involves systematically tensing and then relaxing all of the muscles in your body. Often, people have trouble falling asleep because they are physically tense and restless. Doing this exercise will help relieve your body of that tension. Additionally, when you focus on this exercise, you will calm your mind and allow it to rest for the day.
To do progressive muscle relaxation, lie down on your back. You will be focusing on each muscle group in your body by tensing the muscles for a few seconds and then relaxing them. This process should take about 30 seconds for each muscle group.
Breathe steadily as you progress through your muscles. Start with your face by lifting your eyebrows up and then slowly relaxing your forehead. Tightly close your eyes and then relax as you slowly open them. Tense the rest of your face little by little, including your lips, cheeks, and jaw muscles, and then relax all your facial muscles at once.
Then move down to your shoulders and arms. Lift up your shoulders toward your ears and tense your muscles before letting them relax. Beginning with your upper arms, flex your muscles and then allow them to relax, releasing any tension. Then tense your forearms and then let them relax.
Do this for every body part until you get down to your toes. This will help you fall asleep and focus on your breathing.
25. Visualize a peaceful, restful place.
Imagine you are at the beach or in a quiet park. Think about all of the details that would be going on, such as the sounds, the feelings, and the smells. Pretend you are in this place and feel the relaxation that you would be feeling if you were actually there.
26. Establish some bedtime rituals to help you relax.
Consider adopting some bedtime rituals that will help you wind down. This may include listening to some quiet music, using some essential oils, or reading a book. Once your body gets used to a routine, it will be aware each night when you are telling it that it is time to calm down and get ready for sleep.
Take a warm bath.
Taking a warm bath will help you relax your muscles and your mind. Add some essential oils into your baths, such as lavender or ylang-ylang, which will also help you relax.
Listen to soft music.
This is a great alternative to watching TV at night. Listen to some relaxing music to help you escape from the day and relieve your mind from stress.
Write down your important tasks for the next day.
One reason you may not be able to fall asleep at night is that you have so much going on in your mind. If you are constantly trying to remember your to-do list, you will not be able to quiet your mind.
Take some time each night to write down everything you need to remember for the next day so you know you won't forget anything. This will help empty your thoughts before you go to bed, and help you relax and focus on sleep instead of the following day's work.
Listen to audiobooks or sleep podcasts.
This is a great escape from reality that doesn't involve looking at a screen. Listening to someone else tell you a story is an effective way to calm down and end your day.
Sleep podcasts may also help you get better sleep. Here's our review of the best sleep podcasts of 2020.
Create a comfortable sleep environment.
27. Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet.
It is easier to fall asleep if your body is slightly cool than if you are warm. Make sure that your room is completely dark (unless you have one small nightlight to use for emergencies) and there is as little noise as possible. To drown out background noise, consider using an ambient noise app or getting a white noise machine or even using a fan.
28. Keep the noise down or use soothing sounds.
Close your windows and doors so you are not disturbed by outside noise. In addition to this, as previously mentioned, look into white noise machines. Not every sound may be relaxing for you, but you can get a noise machine that plays sounds from the beach or the jungle if you find those to be more relaxing than white noise.
29. Keep your room cool.
Research has shown that the ideal temperature for getting high-quality sleep is lower than you may think. Try to keep your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees F for optimal sleep. Your body temperatures peak and decline throughout the day.
Your internal temperature is typically at its highest during the early afternoon hours and lowest around 5:00 am. When your body falls asleep, you naturally cool down. If you can help keep your body at that lower temperature, you will be able to encourage deeper sleep.
30. Reserve your bed for sleeping and sex.
Don't watch the news or television, read, or even talk on the phone in bed. Keep focused on the fact that your bed is only used for two things: sleep and sex. This way, when you get into bed at night, your mind will know that it is time to go to sleep.
31. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Your mattress and pillow may not actually be right for your body type. Go to a mattress store to get fitted for the correct type of mattress and pillow to optimize your sleep. This will help you sleep deeper and wake up feeling more refreshed. Additionally, it will cut back on any aches and pains that you tend to feel during the day.
32. Teach pets to sleep in their own beds.
Not only can the movement of your pet keep you up through the night, but their hair and dander can give you allergies. This may cause you to wake up sniffling or coughing, and interrupt your sleep. Although many people enjoy sleeping in bed with their pets, it is best to let them have their own beds so they, too, can get a full night's sleep.
33. Try a leg pillow to relieve back pain.
Back pain is a common problem for people, and can certainly keep you awake at night. If you are experiencing back pain, try putting a pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side. This will help align your spine and relieve pain. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees so your lower back sits closer to the bed.
34. Use a cervical pillow to relieve neck pain.
To straighten your neck and reduce pain, get a cervical pillow. This will allow your neck to align with your back, and you will reduce the amount of strain that you are putting on your muscles and joints.
Essential oils can make your everyday life easier in a variety of ways. Several of them can be used to not only help you fall asleep but also stay asleep. Here are some of the best essential oils to use for sleep.
Other Uses of Essential Oils:
Learn to fall back asleep faster.
36. Get out of your head and stay present.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep, don't start to stress over the amount of sleep that you are losing and how tired you will likely be the next day. Focus on your breathing and your muscle relaxation to help you slip into a deep sleep. The more you think about your lack of sleep, the more you will work yourself up and lose even more sleep.
37. Count your blessings (for the day).
Think about everything that you are grateful for. Thinking about positive things in your life will help make you happy and push aside any negative feelings that you might have from the day.
38. Postpone worrying and brainstorming.
Worrying all night or thinking about new ideas for work will likely cause you to have anxiety. One thought will lead to the next, and you could spend hours either brainstorming for work or worrying about an upcoming project or deadline. Tell yourself that you will handle these things tomorrow, or write down what you are thinking and set it aside.
39. Don't check the time
If you constantly check the time when you are trying to fall asleep, you will psych yourself out while trying to rush to get some rest. Turn the clock away from your bed so you cannot see it. This will also help reduce the amount of light that you are exposed to throughout the night.
40. Give yourself a sleep signal.
Next time you are in bed and trying to go to sleep, try giving yourself a sleep signal. Pick a signal and keep it the same every night. This may be something like stroking your chin or holding onto your earlobe. Your body will begin to interpret this signal and know that it is time to go to sleep.
41. Wear socks to bed.
Wearing socks to bed will prevent you from having cold feet that could keep you awake at night. When your feet are cold, your blood has a more difficult time circulating because the blood vessels become constricted. Warming your feet prior to going to bed will help give your brain a signal that it is time to rest.
In conclusion, many people are sleep deprived and are looking for solutions to get a better night's rest. Try out a few of these tricks to see what works best for you. While you may not need to do all of these things, it is best to have a solid routine so your body can get the rest it needs. This will help you be more active and productive during the day, and also help you avoid the mid-afternoon slump that you may be used to experiencing.
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