A better night of sleep is never guaranteed, after all, 27% of Americans report problems falling asleep each night.
The good news is that with a few tips and a little effort it’s definitely possible.
Decades of research have helped sleep specialists pinpoint a handful of sleep tricks and tips that can help you sleep better and night–tips that apply for seniors, adults, women, men, and even teens.
I’ve put together 10 of my go to tips to help clients get to sleep faster, sleep better, and have more energy throughout the day.
These tips will reveal the most effective ways for anyone to start sleeping better tonight naturally.
Here’s your quick and easy sleep guide for better sleep.
Ditch the Electronics
Alright, not literally. I’m not saying you need to throw your iPhone and Apple TV in the trash- but using electronics at the wrong time can affect your sleep more than you realize. Here’s how:
From cell phones to laptops, tablets, and our TVs, we’re constantly bombarded with blue light. The problem? Seemingly innocuous blue light suppresses production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep by regulating the body’s bio clock and sleep-wake cycles.
Maybe you’re not convinced just how much blue light from your smartphone can be leading to sleepless nights– but research shows it can affect our ability to get to sleep, stay asleep, and get that deep quality sleep we need to wake up feeling energized.
A 2017 study from the University of Haifa showed blue light exposure between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. negatively impacted sleep in three ways: it suppressed melatonin production for participants, shortened sleep time, and hurt their sleep quality by increasing the number of times they woke up during the night. The study reinforced what several others had found in years prior.
Before you shun your electronics completely, though, it’s important to understand not all blue light is harmful to your sleep, it’s all about the power of when. My best sleep recommendation here is to cut down on blue light exposure 90 minutes to two hours before bedtime. That’s ideal, and also reduces stress because we aren’t checking emails.
I know that can be difficult, especially if you have work to finish. So I designed a pair of blue light-blocking glasses that’ll let you use your devices, without having to deal with the side effects that hamper quality rest.
Avoid Alcohol Right Before Bed
Here’s one of the 10 sleep tips I’ve covered extensively in the past: drinking alcohol right before going to sleep can derail quality sleep.
I can’t tell you how many people have come to me, not understanding why they aren’t waking up energized who use alcohol to help them fall asleep.
While alcohol can initially help you fall asleep faster, it’s not a reliable sleep aid.
Research has shown that alcohol not only leads to more bathroom trips at night, but may even be associated with an increased risk of disordered sleep, including sleepwalking, sleep apnea, paralysis and less quality sleep overall. But the problem is, alcohol gets in the way of consistent sleep, since it leads to going to the bathroom more during the night.
Make no mistake — I’m not saying you have to stop drinking to get great sleep. But you’ll want to give yourself at least a one hour buffer between when you have your last sip of alcohol and when you fall asleep. The reason? Research has shown having alcohol within an hour before bed can reduce melatonin production by 20%.
Exercise Regularly to Improve Sleep
Staying active by exercising consistently not only keeps us physically fit; it can improve our sleep too. Exercise increases the time the body spends in deep sleep, which is the most physically-restorative sleep phase.
Regular daytime exercise, according to one 2018 study, has been shown to increase melatonin production — which we know is a big deal for getting to, and regulating, sleep.
Having a consistent exercise routine has also been helpful in treating common sleep disorders like insomnia, while other research suggests that low levels of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle are often linked to poor sleep and sleep quality. Your goal should be to get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, which comes out to 30 minutes per day, five days per week. That’s the baseline recommended by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.
Know Your Chronotype
Do you know what your chronotype is? If not, it’s an important piece of information that outlines your individual preferences for sleep. Your chronotype impacts virtually every part of your life, from the best time to fall asleep, exercise, schedule a big meeting at work, and even the best time to be intimate with your significant other.
There are four types of chronotypes – lion, bear, wolf and dolphin – and each has its own distinct characteristics. It’s not hard to find out your chronotype, either. Just head over to chronoquiz.com and take the quick survey.
Turn Down the Thermostat
I say this all the time when it comes to sleep – the cooler the better. For most people, the ideal room temperature is 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit when going to bed.
Hot temperatures get in the way of quality sleep in a number of ways. One issue is that when it’s hot, research shows you’re more likely to get up during the night – which impacts sleep efficiency, making it tougher for your body to properly complete its sleep cycles. Hot temperatures also decrease the time spent in REM sleep, the final sleep cycle that’s associated with dreaming; REM sleep has been shown to help with memory consolidation and regulating mood.
Also, one nice benefit of staying cool at night: it triggers brown fat, which helps you burn calories throughout the night.
As summer heats up, though, AC may not be enough, or even the most effective way to stay cool so you sleep better. Rather than investing in expensive sleep tech, I recommend looking at a sleep system like Chilipad a look. The Chilipad keeps your mattress cool by using microtubes to circulate water that can drop your bed temperature to as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, they’re an excellent way to keep your bed cool.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
You may think a bedtime routine is just helpful for kids; in fact, bedtime routines are important for regulating sleep cycles, getting quality sleep, and may help with common sleep disorders like insomnia. Set a time you want to go to bed each night and wake up each morning, and fill-in routines that will help you accomplish this goal. A few good options include journaling, reading a book, and spending some time with your spouse or kids before nodding off. Make the ritual yours, and try and stay within a half hour each night of when you want to perform your habits. This will let your body acclimate to the schedule you’re trying to set – and helps your body wind down each night.
And if you need more help crafting your ideal bedtime routine, I’ve got you covered. Check out this full breakdown, which includes a number of sleep tips, when you have a moment.
Tension and sleep go together like ketchup and ice cream. They just don’t mesh. More than 50% of adults with sleep problems also suffer from anxiety, according to Harvard University.
I know it’s easier said than done to simply relax after a long day. But finding a way to calm down will help you avoid laying in bed, unable to fall asleep. Meditation is one popular option I’ve always been in favor of, and taking a warm bath is another great stress reliever. (Ironically, warm baths also work to cool down the body by improving blood circulation, fostering better sleep in the process.)
And if you find your mind racing at night, try this trick I’ve written about in my books: counting down from 300 by 3s. It should help distract your mind – and it’s so mundane that it often helps put you to sleep before you reach zero.
Adopt a Sleep-Savvy Diet
What you eat impacts how you sleep. Luckily, your options aren’t limited – there are a number of foods that promote better sleep.
In particular, you’ll want to focus on protein-rich foods, like eggs, fish, broccoli, almonds and chicken breast. Meals that are high in protein have been shown to help people fall asleep much faster, with an average of 17 minutes to fall asleep, compared to 29 minutes for those who didn’t have similar meals. You’ll also want to eat your meals at least three hours before going to bed, when you can.
Fiber is another sleep-booster. High-fiber diets have been connected to longer times spent in REM sleep, according to Columbia University. Foods that are high in fiber include avocados, pears, chickpeas, dark chocolate and lentils. You’ll also want to target foods that are high in magnesium and potassium as well. You can read more about how your diet impacts sleep here.
Optimize Your Bed and Pillow
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you don’t see Tom Brady taking the field in flip-flops, so why would you go to sleep without the right equipment? In particular, keep your eye on your mattress and your pillow. A worn out mattress can lead to back problems – and anyone who’s dealt with back pain knows that can harm not only sleep quality, but the ability to feel energized throughout your day. A mattress topper can be one of the fastest and easiest ways to fix an old or worn out mattress.
But a new mattress can be pricey. That’s why I tend to argue pillows are more important than your mattress; it’s much cheaper to replace your pillow, usually falling somewhere in the $40 to $100 range. Aim for a pillow that’s supportive for neck and alignment- I especially recommend the EverPillow by InfiniteMoon.)
Don’t Let Sleep Problems Linger
You may think your sleep problems are common, and therefore not serious. While we all suffer from a sleepless night from time to time, it’s important, if your sleep problems persist, to seek the advice of a sleep or medical professional.
That’s because waking up through the night, or even just never having energy, can be a sign of a sleep disorder, or even more serious health issue. For example, snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Though common, OSA should not be taken lightly. Sleep apnea has been linked to serious health problems. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack.
I’m not trying to alarm you– it’s true that some sleepless nights can be harmless. But even if your sleep problems aren’t linked to a sleep disorder or serious health issues, a sleep deficit undoubtedly lowers your energy levels, productivity, and even mood. Trust your instincts – if it feels like something is wrong, something probably is wrong. There are dozens of common sleep disorders out there, many of which can be easily treated. Don’t let one phone call and one appointment stand in the way of you getting quality sleep.
Otherwise, follow these 10 sleep commandments, and you’ll give yourself a rock-solid foundation for building upon. That’s it for this week – thanks as always for reading along!
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