The following sleep hygiene tips are tried and true. Check them off your list and you’ll raise the odds considerably of getting a good night’s sleep. Believe me; you’re going to find that they work a whole lot better than counting sheep.
The best way to make certain that you get seven to nine hours of sleep each night is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day — or close to it. Even if you pride yourself on being a free-spirited, spontaneous kind of person, your body yearns for a regular schedule.
A bedtime that zigzags from 11:00 p.m. one night to 3:00 a.m. the next, and then back to 11:00 p.m. — with a corresponding crisscross of wake-up times — throws your system off and can lead to sleep disruption. Diverting too far from a regular pattern sets you up for a vicious cycle of insomnia and disturbed sleep.
Have A Bedtime Routine
Have you ever felt absolutely exhausted, dropped into bed and then had trouble falling asleep? This is a common scenario, because even if you feel tired, your brain needs time to wind down before it can slip into sleep. It’s not enough to have a relaxed body; you also need a relaxed brain.
Your first line of defense should be to organize your day in a way that’s conducive to helping you slow down in the evening. Get into the habit of quieting down. If you have the time and inclination, take a warm bath — it’s been shown to help hurry sleep onset.
Empty Your Mind
Stress and anxiety can prevent you from falling asleep by making it hard to slip into that relaxed-brain mode I was just talking about. They can also wake you up in the middle of the night, as anyone who’s found himself panicking about mortgage payments at four in the morning can tell you. Before you go to bed (or after you’ve gone to bed but cannot sleep because your mind’s on overdrive), sit quietly in a room other than your bedroom and write down all of the things you need to attend to the next day.
Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine And Nicotine Before Bed
If you need another reason not to smoke besides that it’s the absolute worst thing you can do for your health, consider that smoking also interferes with sleep: Nicotine’s stimulating effect can keep you up at night. What’s more, research suggests that smokers take in less oxygen while they sleep, which may lead to a variety of conditions that can cause premature death. Caffeine, as you probably already know, is also a stimulant, but what you may not know is that it can stay in your body for as long as fourteen hours.
Exercise Often And At The Right Time Of Day
Exercise and cardiovascular exercise in particular, is probably the best natural sleep aid you can find. Regularly getting your heart rate up triggers the release of endorphins and may have a positive effect on serotonin levels, both of which help relieve stress and promote deep, restorative sleep. For those same reasons, exercise also helps lower the risk of depression and one of its side effects: insomnia. Yet to get the sleep benefits of exercise, timing is everything. Vigorous physical activity causes the release of adrenaline, putting your body in an excited state that makes it hard for you to drop off. Try to get your workout in earlier in the day, or at the latest no closer than three hours before bed.
Block Out Stimuli
This is an especially important part of sleep hygiene for anyone in midlife and older. Close the drapes, shut your bedroom door, turn off or remove any electronics giving off ambient light — you might even go as far as installing soundproof windows or blackout curtains. The importance of darkness, quiet and the absence of movement in your bedroom can’t be overstated.
Seek A Solution For Snoring
If your snoring isn’t associated with a health problem such as obstructive sleep apnea and you’re just seeking ways to lessen your bed partner’s sleep disruption, there are a few remedies you can try. One is to nix alcohol at night. Another is to lose weight if needed: Overweight people tend to be more susceptible to snoring (and sleep apnea). You might also try sleeping on your stomach or side.
Arm Yourself With A Good Mattress And Pillow
Comfort is key to a good night’s sleep. Pillows are a personal preference but make sure that you buy one that won’t aggravate allergies or asthma if you have either. Consider a memory foam mattress — it can put less stress on your bones and muscles and decrease orthopedic-related aches and pains that develop with age. You also won’t disrupt your bed partner’s sleep as you change positions through the night.
Minimize Jet Lag
To reduce jet lag when you’re flying east, seek exposure to light in the morning once you reach your destination; this will help your circadian rhythm catch up.
If you’re flying west, seek exposure to light (even artificial light) in the evening. Using a sleep aid while you’re flying or to adjust to the time change once you’ve arrived can also be helpful. You can further help yourself push past jet lag by making sure your accommodations are conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Consistency is key in overcoming sleep obstacles, but on occasions when it’s impossible to maintain your regular habits, you can still catch up on sleep. Sleeping longer on weekends or napping will let you make up for some of the hours you’ve lost. However, be aware that either can throw you off schedule again. Work on getting back into your regular routine and try to avoid the need to play catch up very often.
The Easiest Trick for Better Sleep
Most of us grew up listening to our parents tell us to straighten our room and make the bed. I’m sure I am not the only one who wondered why it was so important to make the bed, especially because it was just going to be unmade again that night! To be honest, some of us may still feel that way.
It turns out that, like many things, mom and dad may have been right about this one. A recent article suggests that a clean room could lead to a better night’s sleep.
Your bedroom is more than just the room that happens to house your bed — it is your personal environment for sleeping. A proper sleep environment is essential for quality sleep. We’re talking about more than sweeping the room to keep allergies at bay (though a clean room is incredibly helpful if you suffer from seasonal or dust-related allergies).
Believe it or not, the perfect sleep environment is all-inclusive. The study found that participants slept better when…
* they made their beds every day,
* bed sheets were clean and changed once a week,
* the bedrooms were dark and cool,
* they slept on comfortable mattresses and pillows.
The participants even reported that sheets with a clean, fresh scent helped them to sleep more comfortably.