It is important to get a good night’s rest, but so few people manage it consistently. Any insomniac can tell you that sleep is so much more than just laying down to go to sleep. There are, however, certain behaviors and practices that can help you not only fall asleep, but stay asleep.
1. Have a routine. Before going to bed, you should do the same things each night. This will signal to your body and mind that you are preparing to go to sleep and winding down for the evening.
2. Exercise. There are two important things to note about exercise. The first is that it will help you to sleep better if you are more active during the day. The second thing is that you should not exercise too close to bedtime. Try to limit any activity that is too straining two to three hours before bed, otherwise you will be too awake to drift off easily.
3. Decrease caffeine. Many people are addicted to caffeine and consume it in large amounts throughout the day. After dinner time hours, you should steer clear of coffee and other caffeinated, sugary drinks.
4. Limit napping. If you absolutely have to take a nap during the day, follow a cat’s example and keep it short. You should only sleep long enough to feel rested, about fifteen minutes, and then get back to your day. Too much snoozing during the day will limit the amount of tiredness you will feel at night.
5. Slow down in the evenings. Exercise is not the only activity that increases the heart rate and brain waves. Too much excitement, talking, and shouting can make it hard for the body to prepare to sleep.
6. Avoid liquids. Drinking water too close to bed is a great way to ensure that you will be getting up during the night to use the bathroom. You will rest more soundly if you avoid drinking two to three hours before bed.
7. Decreasing alcohol. There is a misconception about night caps, thinking they will help you to sleep better. However, it has only been shown to help in very small amounts, two to three hours before bedtime. Too much alcohol does not help you to drift off peacefully. Instead, it leads to restless sleeping and possibly a hangover in the morning.
8. Increase melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical in the brain that aids sleeping. There are several foods that naturally help increase these levels in the body.
9. Have the right bed. A great mattress is worth the cost if you are going to spend so much of your life on it. It is important to get a mattress that you think is comfortable.
10. Keep everything out except sleep and sex. Too many people use their computers, phones, and televisions in their beds, which does not prepare the mind for rest. In fact, it does the opposite by stimulating the mind and making it harder to fall asleep.
11. Eat right. Some foods that are overly fatty or spicy can make sleeping hard, leading to more waking up during the night. Overeating can also lead to discomfort.
12. Be consistent. Go to sleep and get up every morning at the same time. Your body has an internal clock that depends on you being consistent. If you can set a schedule and stick to it, your body is going to be primed for sleeping and waking consistently, helping you feel more well-rested and energized each day.
13. Limit who sleeps with you. Parents and pet owners know all too well that having kids and animals in the bed can interrupt sleep patterns. If it becomes a big struggle, you need to kick the intruders out of your bed and into their own so that you can all sleep better.
14. Manage stress. Stressful situations and events are part of life. However, if it weighs too heavily on your mind, you may find that it is hard to get to sleep at night. Take up stress management techniques like yoga or meditation to help calm your nerves before heading to bed.
15. Don’t smoke. Nicotine is a stimulant that can keep you up for long hours in the evenings. Addictions to this substance can also make it hard to get a good night’s rest because your body wakes up, wanting to get another fix. Quit smoking and start sleeping.
16. Avoid watching the clocks while trying to sleep. One of the worst parts about laying in bed wide awake is staring at the clock, waiting to fall asleep. If you have an electronic, glowing clock, it is often helpful to get rid of it so that you aren’t counting the minutes. Seeing how long it is taking to fall asleep can often cause stress, making it harder to drift off.
17. Use the sun. The sun and its light are a natural trigger to the body that it is time to be awake, and the dark signals sleep. Get out in the sunlight during the day so that you can help your body adjust to these natural cues.
18. Clean sheets. If your sheets, pillows, or other bedding is dirty or overly disheveled, it can be uncomfortable and disruptive to peacefully sleeping. It can also become a breeding ground for bed bugs.
19. Good hygiene. When you go to bed dirty, you can become itchy and uncomfortable. It also leads to uneasy resting on subsequent nights. Allergies can get worse when you have pollen or dirt in the bed, too.
20. Manage your weight. Controlling your weight is important because being overweight is going to interfere with the ability to sleep well.
If you have a hard time to getting to sleep and you have tried all of this, you can always go talk to your doctor. A sleep aid may be necessary in some instances, so talk to your medical professional to determine what is best for you.