TIPS TO SLEEP WELL
Set an alarm to go to bed.
If you find yourself consistently wishing you had hit the hay earlier but staying on track with a calming bedtime routine is virtually impossible for you, consider setting yourself an alarm — to go to bed.
Keep a sleep diary
To help you understand how your habits affect your rest, track your sleep every day for at least 2 weeks. Write down not only what’s obviously sleep related—what time you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how many times you wake up during the night, how you feel in the morning—but also factors like what you ate close to bedtime and what exercise you got. Comparing your daily activities with your nightly sleep patterns can show you where you need to make changes.
Reason number 1,001: Nicotine is a stimulant, so it prevents you from falling asleep. Plus, many smokers experience withdrawal pangs at night. Smokers are 4 times more likely not to feel as well rested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers, studies show, and smoking exacerbates sleep apnea and other breathing disorders, which can also stop you from getting a good night’s rest. Don’t worry that quitting will keep you up nights too: That effect passes in about 3 nights, says Lisa Shives, MD, sleep expert and founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine.
Keep your bedroom dark.
Even the most inconspicuous glow — like that from a digital alarm clock — can disrupt your shut-eye. If you can’t seal up all the light sources in your room, consider using a comfy eye-mask.
Keep it cool.
Temperature in the bedroom is a little bit of a Goldilocks situation: A room that’s too hot and a room that’s too cold can both mess with your sleep. Aim for somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit
Power down an hour before bed.
Dim the lights and turn off all your devices — smartphones, laptops, TVs, all of which belong outside the bedroom — about 60 minutes before bedtime. Bright light is one of the biggest triggers to our brains that it’s time to be awake and alert, so start sending the opposite signal early.
In the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep In America survey, regular, vigorous exercisers reported getting the best sleep. The best news is that it doesn’t take much: Adding even just a few minutes of physical activity to your day can make a difference in your rest.
Avoid heavy meals when it’s late.
Your body isn’t meant to be digesting while you sleep, so a big meal too close to bedtime may keep you up at night. Protein is especially hard to digest, so if you haveto eat late, opt for lighter fare.
Paint your bedroom a tranquil color.
Maybe it’s a relaxing blue or a warm yellow — the exact shade doesn’t matter so much as long as it calms you. But do go for a matte finish rather than a high-gloss one
Keep your bedroom quiet.
Noises like whirring electronics or ticking watches can easily be left outside the bedroom. For snoring bed partners or blaring sirens outside your window that are slightly more difficult to avoid, try a handy pair of earplugs.
Make sure your mattress fits.
Believe it or not, lots of tossing and turning may be less about you and more about what you’re lying on. That’s right: An uncomfortable mattress might the source of your sleepless nights. Whether that’s because it’s lost its cushioning or because it’s simply too small, it’s important to recognize the signs that it’s time to buy a new one. Expect to make a swap every five to 10 years, according to Consumer Reports.
Nap — wisely.
When done right, a little daytime snooze won’t destroy your nighttime slumber, and can boost memory, alertness and job performance while you’re at it. Just make sure you limit your nap to 30 minutes, max, and don’t snooze too close to bedtime.
Keep a consistent sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends.
Sticking to your work-week sleep and wake schedule over the weekend sounds like torture to most of us, but it’s actually a wise move where sleep is concerned. Staying up and sleeping in later than normal can shift your body’s natural clock in the same way that cross-country travel does. This so-called social jet lag can make it extra difficult to fall asleep when Sunday night rolls around, making for even more unpleasant Monday mornings.
Take deep breaths.
If the quiet reflection above isn’t your style, some simple breathing exercises may do the trick. Breathing deeply mimics how your body feels when it’s already relaxed, so after inhaling and exhaling for a few rounds, you just might find yourself feeling calmer. That’s because deep breathing stimulates the body’s naturally-calmingparasympathetic system, NPR reported.
Take a hot bath.
A cozy soak raises your body temperature slightly. Then, when you hop out, you’ll cool down quickly, which mimics the natural drop in body temperature caused by the brain as it readies the body for sleep. A warm bath before bed seems to help people fall asleep more quickly, but also get better quality sleep, according to a small 1985 study.
Get some sunlight first thing in the morning.
There’s nothing quite like bright light to trigger your brain to stay awake and alert. Getting some natural light — you’ll want to aim for about 15 minutes — first thing in the morning can help night owls reset their biological clocks and ease into sleep a little earlier.
Cut caffeine after 2 pm
That means coffee, tea, and cola. Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for about 8 hours, so if you have a cappuccino after dinner, come bedtime, it’ll either prevent your brain from entering deep sleep or stop you from falling asleep altogether.
Listen to a bedtime story
Load a familiar audiobook on your iPod—one that you know well, so it doesn’t engage you but distracts your attention until you drift off to sleep, suggests Dr. Shives. Relaxing music works well, too.