Because not everyone is going to read a study or an essay (let alone a book) about sleep, I have decided to get straight to the hacks.
I think everyone still deserves to have some advice on how to improve the quality of their sleep.
If you want to feel more rested tomorrow, check out these strategies today.
If you don’t reprogram your brain, your behaviors will run you and keep you from getting shuteye.
Here are some practical actions you can practice tonight to get better sleep:
#1: Make your bedroom as dark as a dungeon.
Also, keep it cool and quiet too. Get rid of the following: light. These include computers, phones, and anything that emits blue-spectrum illumination because it hinders melatonin production. Melatonin helps you sleep. Keep electronics in another room and buy some curtains made of thicker fabric.
#2: Download f.lux.
Powering down your device is easier said than done. So, using this mode on your phone or downloading a program like f.lux. will help you cut back on the blue light before bed. All you have to do is set your location and sleep schedule. (You can also use Night Shift if you have an iPhone).
#3 Set the temperature precisely.
Your bedroom can’t be too hot or too cold. The recommended temperature is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find your toes are cold, put on a pair of socks. It’s worth the good sleep.
#4 Set your clock.
Keep a regular bedtime and wake time. Even on the weekends. When you do, your natural sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) will set in.
#5 Stop hitting that snooze button.
It is a habit that you have to break. For consistent, quality sleep trust me – chances are your sleep is not quality after you hit the snooze button.
#6 Use the BetterMe iPhone app.
Still hitting the snooze? Some social accountability might help. BetterMe will post every time you hit snooze (on your phone’s alarm clock) to Facebook. Snooze to stay or shame to shake this habit? The choice is yours.
#7 Move more.
A regular exercise routine will help you burn energy, so you are not restless when it’s time to sleep.
#8 Get up early (and move).
When you work out at least 4 to 6 hours before bed, your body temperature has a chance to cool down. Remember #1 – elevation in temperature keeps you up at night.
#9 Walk while you work.
Are numbers 7 and 8 too much? Get (or build) a walking desk. All you need is a treadmill and a way to elevate your work surface. If you can’t sneak away from the office, set the pace to 1 mph and use this hack to fit exercise into your busy schedule.
#10 No naps.
I know – who doesn’t love naps. So, if you have to nap; limit naps to 30 minutes. Napping after 12 pm and before 4 pm will not disturb your regular sleep cycle.
#11 Curb the caffeine.
At least in the afternoon. If you drink caffeinated coffee or tea you should know: caffeine’s half-life is about 5 hours. Meaning, that cups can stay in your system for up to 14 hours!
#12 Bake in blue light.
Instead of coffee during the daytime, get exposed to a lamp or screen with a blue hue. Studies show it improves accuracy and focus better than coffee.
Stop using digital devices and lower your lights at least one hour before you call it a night. It will help you unwind by dropping the day’s issues instead of going to bed with them.
#14 No TV.
Some people like to use TVs to sleep. It’s another bad habit. The artificial light is not good for you body’s internal clock.
#15 Stick to a schedule.
If you need to watch tv – plan it by setting a timer. It will turn off the TV (about one hour before bed – see #13), so you don’t have to.
#16 Get digital.
All technology isn’t bad for your sleep. Kindle is an e-reader that does not emit light. So you can wind down reading with one of those (or a real book). Again, your choice.
#17 Welcome white noise.
If you like the TV on for background noise when you sleep, try this instead. Sometimes you need help canceling our noise that keeps you up when it’s time to sleep. These machines have a range of options for ambient noise (from nature to static white and even Brown noise).
#18 Play some tunes.
Another option, better than TV and more accessible than a noise machine, is classical or ambient music. You don’t want big crescendos or changes if you want excellent sleep quality. Find something relaxing before you hit play and lay down.
#19 Try earplugs.
Do you like it to be silent? Noise pollution or a snoring partner can make it hard to sleep. A small strategy with significant impact. You don’t need to use them all the time, but it’s nice to have them by your bed when you need them.
#20 Use noise-cancelling headphones.
They are an investment for sure. But it’s an investment in your health. You can use these during the day to play music, listen to a podcast, or drown out noisy neighbors in the office. They cancel out ambient noise with a frequency so you can focus on sleeping.
#21 Update your mattress.
You need to make sure you and your mattress are a good fit. Also, look at updating every 5 to 10 years. A few signs, other than time, are if you toss and turn or wake up with back pain.
#22. Rub a dub dub.
Sitting in the tub (or standing in the shower) before bed will relax your muscles and calm your mind. It’s a nice way to transition from the day to rest.
#23 Consume chamomile.
A cup of this tea before bed will help you feel relaxed and ready to call it a night.
#24. Breathe deeply and meditate.
A visualization could be a positive way settle your mind, and deep breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system (that’s the opposite of your “fight or flight” system). Together, you will sleep peacefully.
#25 Avoid alcohol.
A few drinks may seem like a good idea, but they will suppress the amount of deep sleep you get at night. You may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night. No booze a few hours before it’s time to snooze.
#26 Quit smoking.
Nicotine is another stimulant that can keep you up at night (see #11). If avoiding lung cancer is not enough, add poor sleep to the reasons you should quit smoking.
#27 Don’t eat too late.
The fewer carbs and sugars before bed the better. Shoot for an earlier dinner or light snacks to allow for proper digestion.
#28 Two words: dog bed.
Pet lovers hate this one, but it’s true. Pet lovers have self-reported poor sleep quality when their best friend sleeps with them. Keep your furry friends in their space so you can get the sleep you deserve.
#29 It is a bedroom.
You should only get two things in bed: sleep and laid. This will decrease distractions and increase your association with sleep in the room.
#30 Get up.
Get up, get out, and do something. Seriously though, get out of bed. If you can sleep, laying in bed can make it worst. Don’t come back until you are tired.
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