Want to learn how to sleep better? Our bodies are designed to work on a sleep-wake cycle, and if you’re having trouble sleeping, it could be because your natural rhythm has become disrupted by external factors such as your environment, stress levels, or even blue light from your electronics.
You may have noticed that you feel better when you get a full night’s sleep. You might also have observed that all of your daily tasks are easier to do and more efficiently performed with a good night’s sleep.
That’s because sleep is a basic need, like eating, drinking, and breathing fresh air. When you rest for an adequate number of hours each night, your body and mind function at its best the next day.
Maintaining healthy sleep habits can be quite challenging. It requires making lifestyle changes in order to attain the appropriate quantity and quality of sleep necessary for optimal health.
Here are 10 ways to sleep better at night so you can wake up feeling refreshed and energized!
How to Sleep Better: Top 10 Best Ways
1. Set realistic goals
Have you ever told yourself that you’ll go to bed early tonight only to stay up watching Netflix? If so, know that setting unrealistic goals can do more harm than good when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.
As much as we wish we could fall asleep instantly upon closing our eyes, sometimes it takes some time for your body and mind to wind down. Setting realistic expectations will help ensure that you’re not disappointed if you don’t drift off right away—and give you something to work toward.
For example, try telling yourself that you will read in bed for 30 minutes before turning off your light—rather than promising yourself an instant snooze fest. Not only is reading relaxing, but putting forth effort can also make you feel like you deserve that full eight hours of rest.
The same goes for listening to music or having a cup of tea or warm milk before bed: these are small steps that can lead to better sleep in no time.
2. Improve Sleep Hygiene
The first tip I can give on getting enough rest is an oldie-but-goodie. Make sure your room is dark during the entire time that you are trying to fall asleep. This may include buying blackout curtains if necessary.
Also, this means no television or computer screens glowing bright right before bedtime. Instead, choose something relaxing, calming, and restful to do right before bed. Read a book or journal, talk to your partner, family member, or friend, practice relaxation exercises, or listen to soothing music.
The darkness is important because it allows your mind to know that the time for sleep has arrived. This process follows our natural circadian cycle of waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night.
When our eyes are exposed to bright light, our brains become stimulated rather than sleepy, making it much harder for us to fall asleep at the appropriate time.
The darkness is also important so that your body gets the signal of rest rather than wakefulness, which can be sent by watching television or staring at a computer screen right before bedtime.
As an added benefit, you will protect your retinas from damage if you do not expose them to bright light just before bedtime!
3. Minimize blue light exposure before bedtime
Using blue light-emitting devices like smartphones and tablets for prolonged periods of time before bed can have a negative impact on your sleep cycle—it throws off your circadian rhythm. The less exposure to blue light you get before hitting snooze, the better for your sleep quality.
Instead of keeping your phone within arm’s reach while you sleep, consider downloading f.lux (for Windows) or Twilight (for Mac). These apps automatically adjust your computer screen so that it emits more red light; research has shown that red light doesn’t interfere with melatonin production as much as blue does.
If you really want to go old school, try using a pair of orange goggles! They might look silly, but they work by filtering out excess blue light. You could also experiment with limiting your smartphone usage prior to bedtime.
4. Avoid Caffeine
The second tip is very important: avoid caffeine in the afternoon! Caffeine can keep you up at night by blocking the effects of adenosine, a chemical in your brain that helps you feel sleepy.
This means that drinking a cup of coffee or green tea at 4 PM may cause you to have a hard time falling asleep that evening. Some experts estimate that it takes about 6 hours for half of the caffeine from one cup of coffee to leave our bodies. Therefore, be sure not to spend those six hours before bedtime drinking beverages containing caffeine.
In addition, alcohol should ideally be avoided in the evening because it can worsen your sleep quality. The sedative effects of alcohol wear off within a few hours, causing you to wake up during the night even after drinking two or three hours before bedtime. If you drink alcohol, be sure to do so early enough that its effect will subside long before you try to go to sleep. See Energy Drinks And Healthy Alternatives.
5. Create a bedroom routine
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try establishing a regular routine for when you go to bed. Taking a bath, reading for a bit, and setting an alarm clock can all help make your bedroom feel like a special place that only invites sleep.
Getting into a bedtime routine is an easy way to boost your sleeping patterns. Adhering to these mini-routines will train your brain that it’s time for bed and help you drift off into a relaxing slumber faster than ever before.
Just be sure not to do anything too stimulating (such as playing video games or watching TV) right before going to bed. You want your body to be able to fall asleep quickly once you get in bed, so avoid anything that might cause excitement or agitation.
6. Exercise for Better Sleep
It sounds counterintuitive, but exercising during your day will help you sleep better at night. Exercising releases feel-good hormones called endorphins that will boost your mood and relax you for bedtime. It also decreases stress, which is another major cause of sleeplessness.
Exercise is a great way to tire yourself out so you’ll fall asleep faster once it’s time for bed. Make sure you exercise in the morning or afternoon; working out too close to bedtime can have a stimulating effect on your body. The key is to make sure you don’t exercise within three hours of going to bed.
If getting up early makes it difficult for you to fit in an hour of workout before work, you can engage in relaxing physical activity before bed, such as breathing exercises, or consider strolling around your neighborhood after dinner. See Cardiovascular Exercise Benefits.
7. Relaxation for Sleep
As for the fourth and final tip, I believe it is very beneficial for everyone to practice relaxation techniques on a daily basis. These can be great ways of winding down at night and preparing yourself for some restful slumber.
One technique that works well for some people is progressive muscle relaxation. Starting with your feet, tense all of the muscles in each part of your body while taking slow deep breaths. Hold the breaths briefly (5-10 seconds), and then relax those muscles while exhaling slowly and completely 4-5 times. You can repeat this process with other parts of your body if desired. See Why Am I Not Sleep So Well?
8. Don’t eat too close to bedtime
It’s important not to eat right before you go to bed. A heavy meal can make it hard for you to fall asleep, and even if it doesn’t, a full stomach might be uncomfortable.
You don’t want your body focused on digestion while you are trying to sleep. If you must eat a big meal or late-night snack, try eating earlier in the evening instead of later in order not to disturb your sleep cycle.
If possible, allow two hours between dinner and going to bed. This gives your body time to digest food and get into rest mode. Otherwise, large meals before bed take the energy that you need for sleep, causing you to stay up longer.
Even if a big meal doesn’t prevent you from sleeping well, it might make you restless because your body will still be busy digesting food when it needs to be resting and recuperating. See 18:6 Intermittent Fasting.
9. Check your mattress quality once in a while
The mattress is key in keeping your spine aligned and supporting your neck, so make sure it’s of good quality and not too soft or hard. If you suspect that your bed isn’t treating you right, get a new one as soon as possible.
Also, keep an eye on your sleeping position: most people sleep best when they lie on their side with their knees bent slightly. Your pillow should support your head without pushing it forward; if you wake up with a stiff neck every morning, try replacing your pillow with one that better suits your sleeping style.
10. Adjust temperature based on personal preference
First, you need to figure out how warm you like your room. This might be different depending on whether it’s summer or winter, but if you’re not sure where to start, a good rule of thumb is to keep your thermostat around 68 degrees in colder months and around 75 in warmer ones.
You can always make adjustments from there based on what feels best for you. If your bedroom tends to get too hot or cold, use an extra blanket as needed (or even a space heater/air conditioner combo).
You can also adjust the temperature by moving furniture around; for example, placing a desk close to an outlet can help warm up that area during winter while creating more distance between it and other furniture could help cool down that spot during summer.
11. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night
While it might sound obvious, it’s vital for good health that you get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. This amount is enough time for your body and mind to repair themselves from a hard day’s work—or from a long day of fun.
Aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep per night may seem like an unattainable goal if you have trouble falling asleep; however, if you follow all the tips shared in this article, you’ll experience an extremely restful sleep.
Other Tips to Sleep Better
Deep restorative sleep can be established with a personal nighttime routine. Starting about 30 minutes before you go to sleep, try to complete a series of daily tasks that will allow you to relax and prepare yourself for sleep.
These routines can consist of such things as taking a warm bath or shower (the heat from the water helps calm your body down), reading fiction (non-fiction tends to be too stimulating since it is full of facts and information), breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, journaling, talking with your partner about the day’s events in an emotionally supportive way (without fighting or arguing), or anything else that works well for you.
Practicing these relaxation techniques every night will help you establish good habits and make it easier to unwind at bedtime to prepare for a restful night of deep restorative sleep.
At the end of the day, nothing feels better than lying down in your own bed and closing your eyes to get some much-needed rest. But unfortunately, many people aren’t able to close their eyes and enjoy their sleep as much as they would like because they have problems sleeping well at night.
Whether you toss and turn all night or wake up feeling tired every morning, there are tons of things you can do to improve your sleep such as setting attainable goals, minimizing bluelight exposure, avoiding caffeine, creating a routine, and improving your mattress quality among others.
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