If there is one thing that every single one of us could stand to get more of, it’s sleep. Almost seventy million Americans struggle with some form of sleep disorder, with insomnia being the most common of the bunch.
If you’ve found yourself staring at the ceiling or the glare of your phone more nights than not, you might wonder how you can develop better sleeping habits. Here are some crucial tips from sleep experts to help you stop counting sheep and start catching some “z”s.
Stick to a Consistent Schedule
If there’s one crucial element to forming new habits, sleeping habits included, it’s consistency. As much as is possible, you should attempt to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each and every day. This backs up your internal clock and makes sure you get tired at the right times.
Just make sure that you set your bedtime at a point where you can get around seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Otherwise, you may still struggle with daytime sleepiness.
Unplug Before Bed
Experts have shouted this tip until they’re blue in the face, but we must echo it once again here. You should make unplugging from your phone and all other electronics a regular part of your nighttime routine.
Most electronics we use produce blue light, which has the effect of fooling our eyes and brains that it’s still daytime out. This makes it much harder than it needs to be to get to sleep. Even if you’re not looking at your phone, it may still prove a distraction if it’s on your bedside table.
Use Your Bed for Its Intended Purposes
According to sleep experts, you should only use your bed for two purposes: sleeping peacefully and sex. If you’re not in bed to sleep or sleep with someone else, you shouldn’t be in bed. Using your bed for anything aside from its intended purposes builds associations in your brain that can make it more difficult to get the sleep you need.
This is part of the reason why it’s recommended that you take a small walk or move to another room if you can’t get to sleep at night. You don’t want to associate your bed with not sleeping. On that note…
Sleep When You’re Tired
If your designated sleep period arrives and you aren’t tired in the slightest, you won’t be sleeping peacefully. You’ll toss and turn and wish that you could sleep. So, instead, try a relaxing activity until you start to feel tired, then go to sleep from there.
Try to Limit Caffeine and Naps
Caffeine and naps are two things that we rely upon to the point of addiction in order to function. They’re also two of the things that can disrupt our bedtime routine like no other.
If you take frequent naps during the day, your body thinks it’s already gotten the rest it needs. (It hasn’t.) This makes it more difficult for you to sleep at night.
If you struggle with daytime sleepiness and need caffeine to perk yourself up enough to work, make sure not to drink it within ten hours or so of your bedtime. If you do, you might be too wired up to sleep when you need to.
Improve Your Diet and Exercise
Often, sleeping better comes down to a matter of adjusting other elements of your life as well. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise can cause issues with insomnia, anxiety, and stress.
So, try to get adequate exercise throughout the day, and don’t push yourself too hard before bedtime. It can take your body time to wind down from the high exercise gives.
Dehydration and other types of poor nutrition can lead to difficulty sleeping, so try to drink enough water before you head to sleep as well.
Adjust Your Sleeping Environment
Sometimes, your current sleeping environment does not work for sleep. If you live right by the road, the noise from outside can keep you awake. If your bed’s near a window, the sun shining through or the street lights might wake you up sooner than you need to. If your room is too cold or too hot, chances are, you’re doing more tossing and turning than sleeping.
Try to adjust for as many of these circumstances as you can to make your sleeping environment as conducive to restful sleep as possible. Wear an eye mask or earplugs to cut out outside light and noise pollution. Make sure your bedroom temperature is comfortable for you.
De-Stress Before Bed
Never go to bed angry, scared, or stressed. If you do, you won’t be sleeping at night, but seething and stewing over the possibilities. As part of your bedtime routine, you should set aside anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour to de-stress from the events of the day.
You can do this by reading (a paper book, not an e-reader), drawing, journaling, or coloring. If you enjoy meditation, you might benefit from a few guided files before bed. Or, if that doesn’t appeal, you can curl up beneath a weighted blanket, which can offer some of the benefits of deep pressure therapy.
When all other methods of improving your sleeping habits fail, you can always turn to supplements or medication. It may well be that your body doesn’t produce enough melatonin on its own. If that’s the case, a supplement like sugar bear sleep vitamins may well help you to get the sleep that you need.
Let’s Recap: How to Improve Your Sleeping Habits
So, to review: How can you improve your sleeping habits? You can start by setting your environment up for sleeping success and reducing stress. Try to avoid stress and stimulants as much as possible. After that, maintaining a consistent bedtime routine is key to building and reinforcing the habit.
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