The role of sleep in our lives is more well-recognized than ever before. Our cells literally undergo repair and our brain recharges while asleep. And without an adequate night’s rest, we simply aren’t our best the next day. If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep at night or simply want some easy rules to stick to, here are 8 things you can do immediately with ease.
1. Create a Bedtime Routine and Schedule
Consistency is a powerful tool when it comes to sleep, and performing a daily ritual before you lay down can make a huge difference in sleep quality. Your ritual could include taking a hot bath, doing yoga, meditating or reading a book. As long as you perform the task every day at about the same time, your brain will begin to associate that particular activity or ritual with sleeping.
2. Keep Your Bedroom Dark
Light has a strong effect on your body’s circadian rhythm, and the absence of light typically tells your body and brain that it’s time to power down. You can, therefore, trigger sleepy feelings by making your bedroom as dark as possible.
If streetlights or other light sources are visible from your bedroom window, make sure that your curtains are thick enough to block them. Even small lights, such as LEDs on your computer or other electronic devices, can keep you awake, so consider covering them with electrical tape.
3. Get More Exercise During the Day
You’ll likely have a harder time getting to sleep if the majority or your day is spent doing sedentary activities, such as sitting behind a desk for 8 hours. Try to spend at least 15 minutes every day walking or exercising. Activities that increase your blood pressure and heart rate for a short time use up energy reserves, helping you feel more tired at the end of the day.
4. Only Use Your Bed for Sleeping
If your bed is used for other activities, such as reading during the day or watching movies with your family, it’s often more difficult to associate the space with sleep. You should also avoid snacking or hanging out in bed, no matter the time of day.
5. Clear Your Thoughts Before Laying Down
“Concentrating on things” is the top reason people have trouble sleeping, according to the CDC, behind only “remembering things.” The mind can be difficult to shut down, so instead of laying awake worrying about the future or ruminating on the past, set aside a few minutes before bedtime to sort out your thoughts.
This could mean making a list of tomorrow’s tasks or jotting down what’s on your mind, both the good and the bad, in a notebook or journal. When you integrate the practice of writing down your thoughts and fears into your bedtime routine, you may find that you fall asleep more easily and wake up less often.
6. Change Your Eating Habits
Along with your mind, your diet may be contributing to inadequate sleeping patterns. While laying off caffeine halfway through the day may be a no-brainer when it comes to getting more sleep, you may need to alter your eating habits as well.
By integrating more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet and reducing sweets and high-calorie convenience foods, it may become much easier to fall and stay asleep. You should also avoid going to bed on either a stuffed or empty stomach.
7. Shut Down Your Screens Earlier
Many people unwind by watching a favorite TV program or surfing social media, but this habit can lead to restless nights. At least one hour before bedtime, turn off your screens and leave them off.
Additionally, resist the temptation to pick up your phone during the night. The bright screen may trigger feelings of wakefulness, even in the middle of the night.
8. Find Better Ways to Wake Up
Finally, you may need to alter the way you wake up in order to get better sleep. Fully committing to the day as soon as your alarm goes off may seem nearly impossible, but it can make a huge difference when it comes time to sleep.
Avoid hitting the snooze button, no matter how tired you are. Five or 10 more minutes of sleep isn’t going to make you feel more rested, and you may have even more difficulty waking up after the second alarm. Once you’re out of bed, open the curtains. Sunlight tells our interior clock that it’s daytime, making it easier to wake up and get going.
Featured photo credit: imsa.edu via sites.imsa.edu