With our lives getting busier and busier, maintaining proper sleep hygiene has never been more important. Below, we have provided some simple yet effective tips for getting better quality sleep at night.
1. Limit Your Intake of Caffeine, Nicotine, and Other Sleep Inhibiting Chemicals
Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that can keep you awake. This chemical is commonly found in tea, coffee, cola, chocolate, and certain pain relievers. It is recommended that you avoid taking anything containing caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime. Likewise, if you are a smoker, avoid using tobacco products close to bedtime.
While alcohol can help you to fall asleep faster, it will interfere with your sleep later on in the night as it is being metabolized, decreasing your quality of sleep. So, try to limit your alcohol consumption to no more than one or two drinks per day. And also avoid any alcoholic beverages in the last few hours of bedtime.
2. Create a Sleep Inducing Environment
The ideal environment for sleep is dark, quiet, and cool. To achieve this, consider using blackout shades, heavy curtains, or an eye mask to block out light – darkness gives your body a signal that it is time to sleep. To block out unwanted outside noise, you can invest in some earplugs or a white noise machine. The perfect bedroom temperature for sleep ranges between 60 and 75°F, so before heading to bed ensure that the thermostat is set around this range. Having a comfortable mattress and pillow is also crucial for quality sleep. On average, a good-quality mattress should last between 7 and 10 years. Therapedic’s 2022 mattress breakdown will help you to find the perfect mattress for you.
If you have pets, as much as you love them, consider keeping them out of the bedroom if they get active at night.
The bedroom should only be for sleep and perhaps sex only. Avoid using electronic devices including TVs, computers, phones, and so on while in bed.
3. Create and Stick to a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine
Setting aside some time for relaxing activities before going to bed will help ease the transition from wake time to sleep time. These can include calming activities like reading a book, taking a bath, and some relaxation exercises. Leave work stuff at work and avoid thinking about or talking about stressful or emotional issues. Psychologically and physically stressful activities often stimulate the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases alertness. Instead of taking your worries to bed, consider noting them down to address them the next day.
4. Only Go to Bed When You Are Truly Tired
Laying awake in bed and struggling to fall asleep only increases your frustration making it even harder to fall asleep. If you are unable to fall asleep within half an hour, get up, go to another room and engage in an activity that relaxes you until you feel tired. Repeat the process again until you fall asleep.
5. Avoid Looking at the Clock
When you are trying to fall asleep, you should refrain from checking the clock in your bedroom as this increases stress and makes it harder to fall asleep.
In the event that you wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to go back to bed in less than half an hour, get out of bed, go to another room and engage in a calm relaxing activity, for example, reading or listening to music. Ensure to keep the lights dim. Once you start feeling tired, you can go back to bed.
6. Expose Yourself to the Morning Sunlight
Exposure to natural light helps to keep your internal clock in check. It is thus recommended that you let in the light the first thing you wake in the morning. Also, consider taking a sun break during the day.
7. Establish a Sleep Schedule
Experts recommend that you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day – even during the weekends. Doing so helps to condition the body to expect sleep at a certain time every night, making it much easier for you to fall asleep. Keeping your routine even on the weekends helps to avoid Monday morning sleep hangovers. Ensuring that you wake up at roughly the same time every day is an effective way of keeping your internal clock set, helping you to better manage your sleep cycle. To find out more about the importance of synchronizing the clock, check out The Drive to Sleep and Our Internal Clock.