I do not have the best sleep habits. I like to watch TV or mess with my iPad while lying in bed. I usually have a snack when I should be hitting the sack. I have a hard time shutting my brain down so I can fall asleep. And then I don’t want to get up in the morning.
In a recent blog, we talked about the health benefits of getting more sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep or getting enough sleep, here are some tips to help you get a better night’s rest:
Set a regular bedtime
Go to bed at the same time every night. By going to bed at the same time, you condition your body to follow a regular pattern of sleep. Then, your body can set its natural clock to help you initiate and maintain sleep.
Wake up at the same time
On the flip side, you need to wake up at the same time every morning – even on weekends. This will also help regulate your sleep patterns. If you sleep in on weekends, you are more likely to feel draggy during the day and then be unable to fall asleep at your usual time that night. Once the work week starts, your natural sleep rhythm will be out of whack and you’ll have to reset your system again.
Power down the electronics
I know it’s hard, but turn off all the gadgets. That means no TV, laptops or tablets at least an hour before bed. No cuddling with your smart phone either. Some research has shown that using backlit screens before bedtime interferes with sleep.
Read a book
It’s time to go old school and read a book if you need to relax before bed. Preferably a real book or an e-reader that doesn’t use an internal light source. Also, a fiction book can help you lose yourself in the story and forget about the worries and stress of the day. When you’re trying to fall asleep, think about the story to keep your mind occupied until you drift off.
Make yourself comfortable
Turn your bed into a comfy retreat. If you wake up with a sore back or stiff neck, it may be time to think about a new mattress or a different pillow. Make up your bed with a bedspread or comforter that you love and add soft sheets. The more cozy you feel in bed, the easier it may be to go to sleep.
Keep the room cooler
Another way to be more comfortable is to keep the temperature in your room slightly cooler – around 65 degrees. If you are too hot or too cold, it can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
Watch what you eat and drink
Try not to got to bed either hungry or feeling too full. Your discomfort may keep you awake. If you need a snack to keep you from feeling hungry when you get in bed, keep it small and avoid high-fat foods that will take longer to digest. You also want to limit how much you drink before bed, so that you aren’t making frequent trips to the bathroom in the night.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that raise blood pressure and energy levels, making it harder to fall asleep. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can act as a sedative but when the effects wear off, your sleep patterns will suffer.
Get some exercise
Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and experience a deeper sleep. However, you should exercise earlier in the day. If you exercise too close to bedtime, it can actually energize you and make it harder to fall asleep.
Take a power nap
A short nap (15 to 20 minutes) can help you feel energized during the day. However, a long daytime nap will actually interfere with your nighttime sleep, especially if you already struggle with falling asleep or waking up during the night.
Trust me, I know that this is easier said than done. I am a huge, obsessive worrier. When I go to bed at night, my brain just won’t shut down. I keep a notebook beside my bed so that I can write down things that I think of as I try to fall asleep. Or, I have found that sometimes it’s better to get up and take care of something I forgot to do before I got in bed. Otherwise, I will just continue to lie in bed and think about it.
Do you have trouble falling asleep? What are your tips to getting a better night’s sleep?