Sleep is one of those things that feels good, but can sometimes be hard to do. Because sleep is vitally important to our physical and emotional health, doing what you can to help your body and mind shut down is essential. No need to toss and turn all night. Here are some steps you can take to improve the quality of your sleep.
- Avoid too much stimulation right before bedtime.
Even mild exercise during the day can help you sleep, but exercising within three hours of when you go to bed can keep you awake instead. Forego stimulants like caffeine for four to six hours before bedtime.
- Avoid heavy meals before bed.
Stick to lighter fare in the evening, and avoid eating late. If you like a snack at night, make it light. Reader’s Digest put out a great article on bedtime snacks that will help you sleep.
- Skip the nightcap.
Although a drink at night can seem to relax you, having a nightcap or too much alcohol right before bed can diminish the quality of your sleep. You may not have trouble getting to sleep, but staying asleep can be difficult with alcohol in your system.
- Establish a bedtime routine.
Our bodies tend to respond to established routines, so create one for pre-sleep. Relax in a warm bath, read in bed for a few minutes or listen to soothing music every night to help you relax for sleep. Consider meditating or using relaxation techniques.
- Go to bed and get up at regular times.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night and avoid sleeping in. By getting your body used to a regular schedule, a having good night’s sleep is easier.
- Block out noise at bedtime.
If there are noises that routinely bother you when you’re trying to sleep, like traffic or the sound of a television in the next room, use ear plugs or a white noise to block out the noise. White noise can also be helpful if you experience chronic ringing in the ears that makes it difficult to sleep.
- Keep the room dark.
Make sure your bedroom is dark. If you can’t put up heavy drapes try wearing a sleeping mask. When your bedroom is dark, you’ll get a better night’s sleep.
- Put the cell phone away.
Resist the temptation to stare at your cell phone screen, or any other backlit screen, at bedtime. The light can keep you from relaxing and make it hard to get to sleep.
If you have ongoing sleep issues no matter what you try, talk to your physician about possibly seeing a sleep specialist to see if you have a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea.