Getting the right amount of sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself every night. It is hugely beneficial for both your physical health and mental well-being when you improve your sleep routine.
All of us will suffer from a lack of sleep at some point in our lives, and for some it can be a chronic problem, leading to serious long-term effects. Try these simple tips for improving your sleep routine and, with a little practice, you’ll soon be sleeping soundly every night.
1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends
Choose the same bedtime every night so that your body gets into a regular routine. Yes, you’re an adult, but staying up late past your normal bedtime or sleeping till noon can greatly disrupt your body’s sleep-wake clock! Allow enough hours to rest so that you wake up naturally energized before your alarm clock sounds.
2. Nap at the right times to improve your sleep routine
Be cautious about napping too late in the day as this may interfere with your ability to sleep soundly during the night. Similarly, cut out any evening naps. If you tend to nod off in front of the TV at night, do something to revive yourself. Napping is a great way to relax, recharge, and rid yourself of mental fuzziness, but keep naps to 30 minutes in the early afternoon in order to preserve a healthy night-time sleep pattern.
3. Cool your sleeping environment down
It is important to keep your body temperature down at night to get a good sleep. Sleep with less clothing on and get moving air into your bedroom. Your body needs a chance to breathe during sleep, too! Keeping your sleeping environment cooler helps balance your body’s melatonin and cortisol levels, both of which are very important for regulating sleep. Somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit is a moderate sleep temperature. If you really struggle to maintain a comfortable temperature, products such as the BedJet might help.
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4. Include physical activity in your day
Regular aerobic activity, at least a few times a week, is an absolute must for good sleep. Just be sure to wrap up your physical activity a few hours before bedtime, as exercising close to bedtime will leave you too energized to sleep. Being a couch potato, believe it or not, is one of the major causes of poor sleep!
5. Clear your head of stress
Banish any lingering thoughts, worries or to-do lists from your mind. If you don’t, they will keep you up all night. Make your to do list or action plan for the following day well before bed. Journalling at night can be a helpful way to rid yourself of stress and resolve lingering worries. Take out a page before bed, write your concerns down, and then end by listing three positive things you are grateful for. Put stress away for successful rest!
You could also try soothing, relaxing music to clear stress before bed:
6. Choose a predictable and soothing routine that you enjoy
Whether it’s washing the dishes and then showering, or folding your clothing, reading and having a hot bath before bed, establish a pre-bedtime routine that gets you moving towards sleep every night and allows you to let go of the worries of the day. Consistency matters! Soothing activities before bed add to the quality of your sleep time. Sip chamomile tea, meditate, listen to calming music, lower the lights. Whatever relaxes you and helps you unwind…do it!
7. Create a calming environment
Is your bedroom environment conducive to good sleep? Keep in mind that a third of your life is spent sleeping in your bedroom! Clean out the clutter and make your bedroom a place for relaxation and sleep only, not work. If your office is also in your bedroom, your mind automatically associates this room with work. Remove electronics from the bedroom. They emit artificial light that interferes with the natural sleep cycle. Carefully place your alarm clock where the light isn’t distracting and the display doesn’t keep you awake all night anxiously wondering what time it is. Add heavy or black-out curtains to eliminate light from the outside. Also keep disruptive noise out by slumbering with a white noise sound machine. Aromatherapy scents such as lavender, juniper, vanilla and sandalwood rubbed on your temples or the insides of your wrists can help you slip into dreamland.
8. Take time to unwind from the day
Slow down well before bed. It takes time to unwind! You will not sleep well if you are moving at high speed until the last minute and then fall into bed. Your mind needs ample time to shift gears. You might not like this tip – but shutting off the computer, TV, or video games 30 – 60 minutes before bed is very important to disengage from your daytime mode of over-stimulation and work.
9. Consider where your pets sleep
Pets can be the worst bed hogs and sleep in fits and starts. Pet owners who sleep with their pets often report disturbed sleep. Give both you and your pets the gift of a pet bed, and luxuriate in your own space.
10. Eat and drink right for a healthy sleep
Your body needs the right kind of nourishment for a good night’s sleep. Eating a large meal at night disturbs your sleep because it is too much material to metabolize. Likewise, spicy and heavy foods can keep you awake with uncomfortable heartburn and indigestion. Heavy alcohol intake can also influence the quality of your sleep, therefore keep it to a limit. Hydrate yourself well, but not too much, to avoid trips to the bathroom during the night. Caffeine (found in tea, coffee, chocolate and sodas) and nicotine are stimulants that can affect your sleep even if you’ve consumed them much earlier in the day. Look for herbal teas that help you sleep. Experiment with your sensitivity and definitely avoid caffeine in the evening!
11. Make your bed extra comfortable
The right mattress and bedding play a major role in good sleep hygiene. If you are constantly tossing and turning, changing your pillow, waking up stiff, or removing your blankets, it may be time to change something. Don’t let these things rob you of a good sleep! Choose the right mattress, materials and amount of fluff for you. A cotton weave blanket provides warmth and air circulation, while memory foam mattresses and pillows give flexibility and good support to your back, neck and head.
A great night’s rest is possible! Make a few simple changes to improve your sleep routine using these tips and don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works best for you. Do you have any tried and tested methods that always help you enjoy a great night’s sleep?
My name is Paula Bess and I am the voice behind the articles you will find here, as well as a strong advocate for sleep, if you haven't guessed that by now.