You eat healthy, you exercise, you drink lots of water. Then you crawl in bed at night and count sheep for hours.
Are you healthy? Science says maybe not.
Want to know how to get better sleep? Try these 12 proven tips!
The Importance of a Good Night’s Rest
Research shows that not getting enough sleep has several negative consequences when it comes to your health. It can:
- Impact your metabolism
- Increase your risk of diabetes
- Increase your risk of heart disease
- Cause high blood pressure
- Decrease energy
- Weaken your immune system
- Impair brain function
- Cause weight gain
In contrast, a good night’s sleep can have several positive impacts. It’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
So, if you’re not sleeping well, what are some ways to improve your sleep?
How to Sleep Better
1. Establish a Routine
Go to bed around the same time each night. And try to wake up at the same time each morning.
Why? Your body has a natural time-keeping clock, also known as your circadian rhythm.
Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop. Keeping it consistent improves sleep quality. Research shows that people with irregular sleeping patterns have poor sleep.
2. Watch your late night eating habits
A big bowl of popcorn may be tempting as you cozy up on the couch, but eating late at night can have an impact on your sleep.
Research shows eating carb close to the bedtime may affect the quality of your sleep.
Instead, if your stomach is grumbling, go for something like berries and yogurt or a bowl of nuts.
3. Skip that afternoon cup of joe
Coffee has a ton of health benefits, but when it comes to sleep, keep your brew to the morning.
When you drink it late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and can make it hard for your body to relax and and fall asleep. In fact, one study found that drinking coffee 6 hours before bed can have a significant impact on your sleep.
4. Stop Snoozing in the afternoon
Short power naps can beneficial, but a long nap (or irregular napping) during the day is not.
Why? Sleeping during the day can confuse your internal clock. This can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
5. Get out in the Sun
That circadian rhythm we mentioned earlier has a lot to do with sunlight. Exposure to natural light or bright light during the day can help keep it healthy.
That said, once the sun goes down, keep your exposure to bright light, especially blue light, to a minimum. This can trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime, upsetting your circadian rhythm.
Blue light from electronic devices like smartphones and computers is the worst, so relax, read a good book, or take a bath.
Speaking of baths…
6. Fill up the Tub
Research shows that having a warm bath (or shower) before bed can help you fall asleep faster. Here’s why.
Again we come back to that all knowing circadian rhythm. Your body relies on temperature as a cue that it’s time to sleep. At night, your body temperature cools slightly, telling your brain that it’s time to sleep.
When you take a warm bath or shower at night, your body heats up thanks to the water. Then, when you get out of the bath, your body temp cools down, signaling to your brain that it’s bedtime.
7. Love Your Lavender
For a long time, the scent of lavender has been associated with relaxation.
And research proves it. In one study out of Wesleyan University, researchers had participants sniff lavender essential oil one night, and then distilled water the next. Participants’ sleep was monitored, and researchers found that people slept more soundly on the lavender night and reported more energy in the morning.
Grab a diffuser and set it on low at bedtime, add some to your bedtime bath, or place a few drops of essential oil inside your pillow.
8. Take a Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin is a sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax and go to bed.
It’s naturally produced by the body, but you can add a supplement to increase it. In fact, studies show that’s it’s incredibly effective at improving sleep quality as well as morning alertness.
9. Avoid Alcohol
Some people believe that a glass or two of wine or beer makes them sleepy, and thus can be a good way to get some sleep.
Unfortunately, while that alcohol might make you feel a little drowsy, it isn’t going to improve the quality of your sleep.
It’ll actually do the opposite. Research shows that alcohol before bed can cause snoring and increase sleep apnea, both of which disrupt your sleep.
But that’s not all. It also alters your body’s production of melatonin, which we know signals to your brain it’s time to relax and sleep.
10. Create a Blissful Bedroom Environment
If you have trouble sleeping, create a space that’s ideal for sleeping. For most, this means cool, dark and quiet.
Turn down the temperature, get some good blackout curtains, and turn off any background noise.
11. Get Some Exercise
We all know we sleep better, and fall asleep faster, when we’ve had a busy day. When your body is tired, your mind doesn’t have much trouble catching up.
So, get some exercise, every day.
That said, for some people, exercise at night can have the opposite effect. If you find that your body is revved up and ready to go, making it tougher to fall asleep, just keep the exercise to the daytime.
12. De-stress and Meditate
One of the main causes of sleeplessness in Americans is anxiety. If you have trouble sleeping, if you think about it, it might be because of all those thoughts running through your mind at bedtime.
Telling yourself you’re not going to worry is easier said than done, so do a few relaxing, meditative exercises before bed to clear your mind. Breathe deep, clear your thoughts, and drift away.
Sleep if crucial to your overall health and wellbeing, If you’re trying to figure out how to sleep better, use some of these tips. We’re pretty sure you’ll be snoozing before you know it.