It’s no secret that getting a good night’s rest can have positive effects in your life. In fact, getting enough hours of quality sleep can vastly improve the quality of your life and your health. But, how can you make that happen in your hectic life? Well, you've got to, and this truly can be accomplished.
It’s possible to get the best sleep of your life if you follow these easy-to-implement techniques.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
“One of the best things you can do for sleeping better is to stick to a sleep schedule,” says Miranda Marquit. “Go to bed at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning. This applies even on the weekend.”
Marquit also suggests that you “try not to stay up too late or sleep in on the weekend. While an occasional deviation for special events can make sense, don’t make it a habit. A regular sleep schedule trains your body to rest.”
Set the Mood
Try all you might, but those tricks that you’re using to sleep better are ineffective if you don’t have the proper environment for sleep. For starters, keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Any type of light can interfere with melatonin production, which can impair your sleep. Wear a slumber mask is you need to, just make sure it is not too snug or too loose. You also want to keep your bedroom as quiet as possible. While some of us rely on the noise of a fan or some other "white" noise to help us sleep, background noises like traffic can disrupt our sleep patterns.
Finally, set the temperature to your room at between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Sleep.org, “When lying in bed trying to snooze, your body temperature decreases to initiate sleep—and the proposed temperatures above can actually help facilitate this. If your room is cool, rather than warm, it will be much easier to shut your eyes for the night.”
In short, think of your bedroom as cave - cool, dark, and quiet.
Position Your Comfy Bed Correctly
Psychologist Richard Wiseman writes that humans have “evolved to fall asleep faster when they feel safe and comfortable.” By placing your bed as far from the door as possible, and with your feet facing that direction, you have a clear of view of the entrance, which means you can notice whether or not there are intruders.
Besides the position of your bed, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that mattress should be comfortable and supportive. “The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years is the best you are going to hope for with most good quality mattresses.” Don’t forget to invest in comfortable pillows as well.
Lose the Electronics
How can you keep your room dark if you’re on your smartphone or tablet or watching TV? You can’t, because the blue light that’s being emitted from these devices disrupt our natural melatonin production.
Besides the blue light, sleeping next to your smartphone or tablet may tempt you to wake-up in the middle of the night to check your texts, emails, or social media notifications. Games anyone? I actually found that by charging my phone outside of my bedroom I was able to sleep. One exemption: I personally use Snore Track which helps me snore less. This causes me to sleep better. It cost me $100, I highly recommend it.
Know What and What Not to Eat and Drink
Joan Salge Blake, RD, a clinical associate professor at Boston University, informs Leslie Barrie of Health.com you should avoid a big meal prior to going to bed. However, there are some foods that may be able to help you drift off to sleep. For example, “a light whole-wheat-pasta dish with fresh vegetables, a little diced chicken breast, tomato sauce, and a sprinkle of Parmesan for dinner” is a “friendly combination of protein and tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to sleep-promoting serotonin in the body.”
If you get hungry later at night, try consuming a small bowl of cottage cheese with banana slices since it also contains tryptophan, or milk and graham crackers or yogurt sprinkled with cereal. But avoiding food altogether later at night is probably best, as late night snackers seem to be those that have a few pounds sneaking up on them, too.
Avoid spicy meals and if you are going to have any alcohol or caffeine, try to do so at the right times. For example, have your last caffeinated beverage around 2pm and a glass of wine with your dinner at 6pm. Most people recommend that you have nothing to drink for about 4 hours before you go to bed.
There have been numerous studies over the years that have a correlation between and sleep, including one study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity. “Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep,” said Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise science at Oregon State University and one of the study’s authors. It seems that no one sleeps better than someone who is actually physically tired.
Change Your Sheets Frequently
“There are so many people who I’m surprised don’t clean their sheets at least once a week and have dust mites, which can also disrupt your sleep,” Jennifer Adams, a sleep environmentalist, designer, entrepreneur and author of the book Bedrooms That Inspire: Rest, Relaxation & Romance, told the Huffington Post. “Make sure to clean your bedding frequently — especially if your pets sleep with you.”
Having at least one extra set of sheets is really helpful in case you don't have time to get your sheets ready in one day. Many people change their pillowcases even more frequently and find this helps with their sleep.
Relax Before You Go to Bed
Barrie writes that “Getting in a little gentle, restorative yoga before you hit the sack can help put your mind at ease, steady your breath, and reduce muscle tension without revving up your heart.” But, you don’t need just yoga when relaxing before bed. You can also try these relaxation techniques before hitting the sack;
- Write down you to-do-lists for tomorrow so that they don’t occupy your thoughts.
- Take five breaths to calm your nervous system.
- Pay attention to your senses, like how comfortable your freshly washed sheets feel and smell.
- Tense and relax your toes. This calms your entire body down.
Having a relaxing bedtime routine will help you unwind and remove any stress or anxiety that keeps you tossing and turning throughout the night. Maybe your routine is not exactly relaxing, per se, but it should be a simple reproducible routine. For instance: wash face, brush teeth, brush hair, stretch, sit on edge of bed, breathe, lie back, relax, arm over face -- and your out. The exact routine doesn't matter, but if the routine is reproducible and done in the same order night after night, it helps to make sleep a better friend.