Imagine it is 2:30am, and you are laying in bed staring at the clock and just watching it get later. You start to count down the amount of sleep you will get if you are able to fall asleep in the next 20minutes. We all know the scenario way too well. Falling asleep may sometimes seem like an insurmountable task… especially at 2:30am, but there are small ways in which you can change your night time routines to improve your sleep.
Researchers have found a number of “sleep hygiene” habits, and practices that can help anyone get more and better quality shut eye. That is good news for everyone, because it means that anyone can benefit from a few proven changes.
Whether you are looking to get tips for getting more relaxed for bed, sleeping through the night, or waking up actually feeling refreshed you will be sure to find some great tips in the list below… (because it’s no funny being tired and grumpy all day).
1. Make a list of to-dos for the next day
Thinking about everything that needs to be done can definitely keep you wide awake well into the morning hours. Before you go to bed write down your most pressing to-dos so that you can get them off your mind, and be sure to remember them tomorrow.
need help getting things on that to-do list done?
2. Cut yourself off from caffeine by 2pm
Caffeine can cause problems with the flow of melatonin (which is the natural chemical your body makes to put itself to sleep). Caffeine can stay in your system anywhere between 4-6hours so cutting it out of your routine earlier in the day will make sure it is not disturbing your natural sleep.
3. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is a great way to combat insomnia. Getting regular eexercise can lower anxiety levels, and make it easier for you mid to relax at night.
Regular exercise will allow your body to have a natural heat-up then cool-down which helps relax you and regulates your sleep cycle.
Make the hour before bedtime an electronic free zone
Bright blue light from electronics is a huge disturber of sleep. Blue light interrupts your sleep wake cycle, and makes it hard to fall asleep. To prevent this it is best to power down all electronics an hour before bedtime to make your brain realize it is time to sleep.
4. Surround yourself in calming colors
Relax yourself before even laying in bed by keeping the colors in your bedroom tranquil, and calming. Pale colors like lavender, pale pink, cool grey, and light blue can really help you relax and calm yourself before bed.
5. Keep your bedroom dark
Light is one of the most effective disturbers of sleep. Light affects your sleep both directly and indirectly. Even a little bit of light can affect the light sensitive cells in your retinas, and disturb your internal clock.
Blackout curtains are a great way to keep your room dark, or if that is not an option you can always invest in a soft eyemask to get better sleep.
6. Temperature matters
A room that is too hot , or too cold can mess up your sleep. In general a room temperature between 60-67 degrees is optimal.
7. Keep your bedroom quiet
Noise is a huge distraction for both getting, and staying asleep. Try to minimize outside noises with either a calming white noise machine, or a handy pair of earplugs.
8. Keep your bedroom a pet free zone
Pets are cute, and you want to let them into your life as much as possible, but the truth is that they are huge sleep disturbers. Pets are not still and any little wiggle movement purr or bark can easily wake you.
Get your pet their own bed and take your own back to improve sleep for everyone.
9. Reserve your bed for only two things
Reserve you bed for only sleep, and sex. This is considered one of the cardinal rules for good sleep hygiene. By doing things besides these two in bed you are sending a signal to your body that your bed is a place to get things done. You need to train you mind that your bed is for sleeping. After a couple weeks of not doing anything else in bed you will find yourself falling asleep a lot faster and easier.
10. Lose the snooze
The snooze button is so easy to use, and sooo tempting, but can actually be doing more harm then good. Any sleep that you tend to catch within a snooze cycle is not going to be of any benefit. Since you cannot complete a R.E.M. cycle during a snooze cycle it can actually make you even grogginess then if you would have gotten up in the first place.
11. Don’t eat to close to bed
Your body is not meant to have to digest food during sleep. Your digestion time slows down considerably during sleep hence why eating late can also lead to excess weight gain.
12. Keep a sleep schedule
Try going to sleep around the same time every night. Your body has an eternal clock to help it know when it is time to power down, but I can easily get out of whack when you do not keep a consistent bedtime. It doesn’t have to be at the exact time every night, but try to make your bedtimes within an hour of each other. In a couple weeks you will notice yourself getting more tired around the same time everyday.
13. Also try to avoid sleeping in…. yes even on weekends
Yes it can be so so tempting to sleep in on the weekend especially if you had a late night or are feeling tired. It is the same thing with waking up though as it is with going to sleep. By keeping a consistent wake schedule you are keeping your internal clock ticking the way it should be. If you are super tired try getting a cat nap in around the early afternoon hours.
14. If you do nap don’t do it for to long, or to late in the day
Yes I know I just told you napping is better then sleeping in, but you still need to limit yourself. Try to keep naps to under 30 minutes. There are many study’s saying these “cat naps” can help with all sorts of issues such as blood pressure, and memory.
Do not nap to long though. Naps longer then 45 minutes can leave you having to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, which will keep you groggy.
15. Keep lights as dim as possible if you get up in the middle of the night
Ugh al out nothing is worse then waking up in the middle of the night, and not being able to nod back off. One of the biggest triggers for you body to think it should be awake is light.
Try to minimize the light you have on if you have to get up as much as possible. Use a small flashlight, or nightlight to get yourself to the bathroom if you have to.
16. Get up if you can’t sleep
I know it seems counter productive, but it can truly help to not let yourself just toss and turn. If you just cannot sleep getting out of bed, and doing something calming like reading a book can help relax you. Spend about 15-20 ,imutes out of bed then when you are tired again get back in. This will not only help you feel less anxious of the amount of sleep you will be able to get, but also help your body further it’s bed/sleep association.
17. Use separate blankets
Do you constantly wake up in the middle of the night because your spouse has stolen the blankets? It happens often enough to have inspired plenty of debate between couple, and a meme or two. Two blankets may sound like overkill, but can actually be the quickest and easiest solution to nighttime quarrels.
Plus if you use your own blanket you can pick one based on your own taste, and comfort levels.
18. Try a warm bath
When your body is warm, and then has a drop in body temperature it signals to your brain that your body is ready to sleep. A warm bath is the perfect way to not only give you a slight rise that your temperature can fall from later, but it also helps to relax your whole body.
19. Try hypnotic muscle tension, and release
Start at your feet and squeeze your muscles together really tight for about twenty seconds then release. Now pay attention to how relaxed your feet feel really concentrate on them for another 20 seconds.
Now move you your calves and repeat the process all over again. Move up your body from your calves to your thighs, the pelvic are, abdomen, right arm, left arm, shoulders, and head.
This tension, and release is a great way to relax your whole body, and help put you to sleep.
If the above tension, and release method does not help you sleep you can also try visualization. It is very easy just picture yourself somewhere calm, and relaxing. You can picture yourself in a hammock by the beach, on a boat in a calm ocean, or even under a tree that is blowing a warm slow breeze over you body.
21. Above all dont stress
Now yes sleep is important, but stressing out about how much you are needing, and not getting is the worst thing you can do. Sleep anxiety is a real thing, and can really hinder your shut eye. You cannot improve your sleep if all you do is worry about your sleep.
Help to stop your sleep stress by practicing some of these easy sleep hygiene tips, and be on your way to a better rest tonight.