No more tossing and turning.
Sleep quality can have a direct impact on quality of life, so it’s important to make sure you get enough shut eye. However, that can seem easier said than done once the frustration kicks in after tossing and turning in bed for hours.
Experts refer to having healthy sleep habits as “sleep hygiene,” and here are 10 health tips on how to get a better night’s sleep.
1. Power down
We’re glued to our gadgets all day for work or social purposes, but right before bedtime, it’s essential to unwind without them. Not only can you get caught up in a Netflix binge (we’ve all been there — “just one more episode”), conversations with friends, or answering emails, but the blue light sent off by our devices is known to throw off our sleep patterns.
Instead of staring at a lit up screen, power off and give your eyes some rest. This will cue your body that it’s time to get some sleep.
2. Follow a sleep schedule
Your body will get confused if you go to sleep at 9pm one night, midnight the next, and then stay up until 3am. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should try to stick to a regular sleep routine even on your weekends and holidays. This will train your body with an internal clock, letting it know when it’s time to fall asleep and when it’s time to wake up.
3. Avoid naps
This one’s pretty self-explanatory — sleeping during the day can make you less tired at night and throw off your sleep schedule. Experts say that even catnaps can have this effect, so it’s best to try and avoid naps altogether.
4. Take note of what you eat and drink in the evening
Alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals during the evening can disrupt your ability to fall asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Despite the fact that a couple glasses of wine might make you feel sleepy at first, the alcohol can disrupt sleep later in the light. Heavy meals might make you too uncomfortable to fall asleep, and the stimulating effects of nicotine can take hours to wear off.
Regularly exercising can promote better sleep quality by enabling you to fall asleep faster and maintain a deeper sleep. However, experts warn that if you exercise too close to bedtime, the boost of energy may make it more difficult to fall asleep. Timing is key, so plan to exercise earlier in the day.
6. Make sure your room is sleep-friendly
This one sounds a bit silly, but is your room a comfortable environment to fall asleep in? That could be having more of an impact on your sleep quality than you might realize. Most mattresses last about 9 or 10 years, according to the National Sleep Foundation, so if you’ve had yours for longer than that, you may want to consider buying a new one.
Experts also advise sleeping in a room that’s 60 to 67 degrees fahrenheit (15.5 to 19.4 degrees celsius).
7. Don’t watch the clock
It may seem like a good idea to keep an eye on the clock to make sure you (hopefully) fall asleep at a reasonable time, but the experts warn that this can actually be counterproductive. If you glance at the clock several times a night, it can make you anxious about the time and fill your mind with thoughts about your responsibilities for the next day, thus keeping you awake.
8. Don’t get in the habit of taking sleeping pills
If you rely on sleeping pills often, it can turn into a habit, and you won’t be able to fall asleep naturally. Plus, they could have unforeseen side effects. Sleeping pills should ideally be a short-term solution while other lifestyle adjustments are made to improve sleep hygiene — always ask your doctor what’s okay.
9. Get the necessary gear
If you have sleep problems, there’s a bunch of sleep accessories that might help you out — consider blackout curtains to keep light from creeping in, eyeshades, earplugs, humidifiers, fans, and “white noise” machines that could fill your room with a peaceful sound to doze off to.
10. Brush your teeth in the dark
Admittedly, this one sounds even sillier than number 6, but experts advise to brush your teeth in the dark if you want a better night’s sleep. Many people would probably say brushing their teeth is part of their bedtime routine, but the bright artificial lighting in our bathrooms can trick our bodies into thinking it’s time to wake up rather than catch some Zzz’s.