Because sleep affects your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, getting a good night’s rest is crucial. But getting quality sleep isn’t always easy. If you have difficulty falling asleep, spend the night constantly tossing and turning, or wake up over the slightest nuisance ⎼ you are not alone. Lack of sleep is an issue for over one third of Americans. The good news is that making simple lifestyle changes may be all you need to start falling asleep faster and waking up more rested. Find out what is keeping you up at night and what you can do about it.
1. Your Environment
At the end of a long day, your mind and body need to unwind. But if you are surrounded by distractions such as light or noise, you will have a more difficult time reaching REM sleep. That’s why it’s important that you arrange your bedroom to promote calm and relaxation.
- Paint your walls a light, cool color such as muted blue, soft grey, or a pale beige. Avoid warm colors, as they tend to stimulate your creativity and increase focus – which is not what you need when you are trying to fall asleep.
- Block out the light. Studies show that light can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, which regulates sleep. To reduce your exposure to artificial light, stop using your phone, computer, and television at least one hour before your bedtime. If that’s not possible, consider getting tinted glasses designed to block out blue light. If your bedroom gets a lot of light from street lamps, consider investing in blackout curtains or using a sleep mask.
- Find your perfect temperature. If your bedroom is too cold or too hot, you are likely to wake up throughout the night. To avoid this, maintain your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Studies show that keeping your thermostat between 60 and 68 degrees is ideal, but everyone is different, so it’s important that you find the temperature that is right for you.
- Declutter your room. A messy room can lead to a busy mind. By keeping your room organized, you provide your brain with the peaceful environment it needs to recharge. So, be sure to put away your clothes, only keep essentials on your nightstand, and take a minimalistic approach to decor, particularly when it comes to wall art.
- Turn your bed into your oasis. Comfort is important when it comes to sleep. So, if you’ve had your mattress for years and it’s filled with lumps or leaves you with a sore back, get rid of it. Invest in a high-quality mattress as well some comfortable pillows and plush blankets to create the perfect bed to help you catch some Z’s.
2. Your Eating Habits
Everyone knows that drinking coffee before bed isn’t a good idea, but coffee isn’t the only thing that affects your ability to sleep. All of your eating and drinking habits play a role.
- Avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime. Eating a lot right before you go to bed can leave you feeling stuffed, which can make it difficult to find a comfortable position to fall asleep in. This is particularly true if you suffer from acid reflux. If you suffer from acid reflux, stay away from spicy or acidic foods at night.
- Don’t skip dinner. While eating a lot before going to sleep isn’t good, neither is going to bed hungry. Hunger pangs can cause restless sleep and even cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
- Eat more sleep-inducing foods. Kiwis, cherries, bananas, nuts, and spinach are not only healthy pre-bedtime snack options, but they also have plenty of sleep-inducing nutrients.
- Stop drinking water two hours before bedtime. Staying hydrated is important for your overall health, but drinking water right before you go to sleep can cause you to wake up throughout the night to use the restroom. These interruptions in your sleep cycle can leave you feeling tired the next day.
3. Your Exercise Routine
Exercise has countless benefits. One of them is improving sleep quality. Individuals who don’t exercise enough often have trouble sleeping through the night, leaving them feeling tired and sluggish the next day. Because exercise helps to reduce stress and boost mood, those who exercise regularly tend to sleep better.
- Work out in the mornings. Exercising first thing in the morning not only helps jump-start your day but makes you less likely to blow off going to the gym. Studies have also shown that those who workout in the mornings sleep better than those who work out later in the day.
- Try yoga. Any form of exercise will help you sleep better, but yoga can be the perfect transition between your busy day and a restful night. Ease into a state of relaxation with some breathing techniques and simple yoga moves.
- Do some light stretching. Opening up and releasing pressure from tight muscles will allow your body to relax and relieve some of the discomfort caused by everyday stress.
4. Your Mental State
Feelings of depression, anxiety, worry, or stress can keep your mind racing all night long, preventing you from getting any rest. Taking control over your mental health will not only help you sleep better but also will improve your overall well-being.
- Get to the root of the issue. Do some emotional exploration and discover what is causing your feelings of stress or anxiety. You can try doing this by recording your emotions in a journal, trying cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or speaking with someone you trust.
- Meditate. While it can be intimidating at first, even just five to ten minutes of daily meditation can send you into a deep slumber, once you learn to quiet your mind. Try out a meditation class, or check out the countless videos online to get a general understanding of how you can incorporate meditation into your everyday routine.
- Practice self-care. Carve out time in your daily schedule to do something for yourself ⎼ read a book, go on a walk, take a bath, cook your favorite meal, call a friend. How you treat yourself trickles down into every aspect of your well-being.
Making sure you get enough sleep every night is pivotal to your health and to the prevention of any potential relapse. So, look at your sleeping habits and where you can implement change. The better your sleep, the more prepared you will be to tackle anything that comes your way.