You might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep. However, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep.
It’s well-established that sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. But despite its importance, a troubling percentage of people find themselves regularly deprived of quality sleep and are notably sleepy during the day.
Many factors can interfere with a good night’s sleep — from work stress and family responsibilities to illnesses. It’s no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive.
You might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep. However, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Start with these simple tips.
1. Power Down
The soft blue glow from a cell phone, tablet, or digital clock on your bedside table may hurt your sleep.
Tip: Turn off TVs, computers, and other blue-light sources an hour before you go to bed. Cover any displays you can’t shut off.
2. Block Your Clock
Do you glance at it several times a night? That can make your mind race with thoughts about the day to come, which can keep you awake .
Tip: Put your alarm clock in a drawer, under your bed, or turn it away from view.
3. Try a Leg Pillow for Back Pain
Your lower back may not hurt enough to wake you up, but mild pain can disturb the deep, restful stages of sleep. Put a pillow between your legs to align your hips better and stress your lower back less.
Tip: Do you sleep on your back? Tuck a pillow under your knees to ease pain.
4. Set Your Body Clock
Go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day, even on weekends. This routine will get your brain and body used to being on a healthy snooze-wake schedule. In time, you’ll be able to nod off quickly and rest soundly through the night.
Tip: Get out in bright light for 5 to 30 minutes as soon as you get out of bed. Light tells your body to get going!
5. Work Out Wisely
Regular exercise helps you sleep better — as long as you don’t get it in too close to bedtime. A post-workout burst of energy can keep you awake. Aim to finish any vigorous exercise 3 to 4 hours before you head to bed.
Tip: Gentle mind-body exercises, like yoga or tai chi, are great to do just before you hit the sack.
6. Eat Right at Night
Don’t eat heavy foods and big meals too late. They overload your digestive system, which affects how well you sleep. Have a light evening snack of cereal with milk or crackers and cheese instead.
Tip: Finish eating at least an hour before bed.
7. Rethink Your Drink
Alcohol can make you sleepy at bedtime, but beware. After its initial effects wear off, it will make you wake up more often overnight.
Tip: Warm milk and chamomile tea are better choices.
8. Lower the Lights
Dim them around your home 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Lower light levels signal your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep.
Tip: Use a 15-watt bulb if you read in the last hour before bed.
9. Free Your Mind
Put aside any work, touchy discussions, or complicated decisions 2 to 3 hours before bed. It takes time to turn off the “noise” of the day. If you’ve still got a lot on your mind, jot it down and let go for the night. Then, about an hour before you hit the sack, read something calming, meditate, listen to quiet music, or take a warm bath.
Tip: Even 10 minutes of relaxation makes a difference.