A restless night here and there is normal, whether it’s due to an important meeting the next day or watching a scary movie before bed. However, if you struggle to fall asleep or remain asleep most nights, there are bigger issues at bay. Not only does disrupted sleep leave you feeling groggy, but it can interfere with your work performance, affect your mood, and even have long-term health consequences.
Don’t settle for insufficient sleep. Instead, try these 5 simple steps to improve your sleep in no time:
#1: Follow a Sleep Schedule
Your body’s internal clock is important to helping you maintain regular sleep patterns. However, that can easily get thrown off for many of us who find ourselves snoozing the alarm morning after morning or staying up well past our intended bedtime night after night. These inconsistent sleep patterns may be to blame for your restless nights and groggy mornings. Luckily, there is a way to go about resetting your internal clock.
Following a set sleep schedule will help your body restore sleep stability. By choosing a time to go to sleep and a time to wake up, and more importantly sticking to it, you can teach your body to begin to feel tired and start waking up around the same time. If you keep it consistent, you might not even need your alarm anymore.
While it may be impossible to ensure that you’re asleep by an exact time, you can give yourself guidelines. Choose a time for winding down, getting into bed, and a goal for when you should be sound asleep by. For example:
- Start winding down by 9:30pm (brush your teeth, wash your face, read for 15 minutes)
- By 10 pm you should be in bed without any distractions (lights out, phone down)
- By 10:30 you should be asleep, or on your way to it
#2: Invest in High-Quality Bedding
If you’re not able to get a good night’s sleep because you’re tossing and turning all night, it might be because your bedding isn’t supporting your body in the right way. Just like a good sleep routine, comfort is key to a peaceful night of rest. It’s easy to put off upgrading your bedding, even if your mattress is 10-plus-years old, but it’s a worthwhile investment for most if it means getting good sleep and saving your body from the long-term damage of bad sleep posture.
Here’s a good start for your bedding shopping list:
- Bed pillows that provide support by keeping your head and neck in the right position
- Sheets made of breathable fabric like bamboo to regulate body temperature
- High-quality mattress that contours to your body and keep your back supported
#3: Put Your Phone Away
For many of us, scrolling on our phones is a regular part of our pre-bedtime routine. However, exposing yourself to blue light so close to bedtime can interfere with your sleep cycle by preventing your body from producing enough melatonin. Not only that but taking in all that information before bed, especially news on current events, can keep your mind reeling well into the late-night hours. Instead of perpetuating this cycle that keeps you up at night, set a cut-off time for yourself when it comes to using electronic devices. Once you reach that time, put your phone away, preferably out of reach or eye-line so your notifications aren’t disrupting your efforts to fall asleep.
#4: Stop Eating Before Bed
It can be easy to munch while watching your favorite series or put dinner off until late at night when you have a busy schedule. However, going to bed with a full stomach can also interfere with your quality of sleep. To avoid the sleep-interrupting side effects of food digestion, and the potential to put on extra pounds, try to adjust your nighttime eating habits.
- Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime
- If you have to eat within this time frame, make it a smaller meal than usual
- Snack on easy-to-digest foods such as bananas, nuts and almonds, or turkey (these foods are even said to potentially enhance sleep)
#5: Exercise Daily
Daily exercise has many health benefits like keeping you physically fit and protecting your heart health, but it can also contribute to better sleep. While you should try to get some activity every day to help you sleep more peacefully, that doesn’t mean you have to do a full-on workout each day of the week, just get moving whether it’s a walk, yoga, or HIIT training. Add working out to your to-do list to make sure it becomes a daily habit that you can stick to. Writing it in your planner or adding it to your phone’s calendar can provide a helpful reminder that keeps you accountable.
If you already work out regularly, you might need to take your exercise regimen up a notch. Just make sure you avoid doing high-intensity exercise before bed or it might have the opposite effect.
Making these small changes to your lifestyle can help you sleep better and enjoy the many benefits that come along with getting a good night’s rest.